Salmon is one of the fattiest and yummiest affordable fish that my bf and I love to make and eat. We usually buy our salmon whenever it goes on sale, which is usually $5.99/lb. There are many ways to make salmon, but we don’t think we’ve had a better tasting salmon than one that is simply salted and peppered. We also enjoy the fishy taste of salmon, which doesn’t taste like the ocean, but something savory instead. We also undercook the salmon just slightly to keep it as tender as possible. It’s also safe to eat salmon raw by the way as it is often done so when eating sushi.
Salmon filet is a thin slice cut of the fish with one side covered with skin, while the steak is a complete cross-section of the salmon body. We prefer the filet over the steak as the filet has no bone and the skin offers layer of protection to the fish when frying it.
- salmon filet or steak (1/4 lb per serving)
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- vegetable/canola oil
- To prep the fish, clean and paper towel dry the fish. Be careful of protruding bones.
- (Optional) Sprinkle some kosher salt on the filet on the meat side and let that rest for 5 mins to force water out of the fish (osmosis process). Do this for both sides of the fish for the steak. Start heating the frying pan at medium-high heat. After 5 mins, pat dry the new moisture that formed on the fish’s surface. This is to keep the fish as dry as possible to form the crispy crust.
- Generously season the fish again with kosher salt and pepper. Use less salt if you are using table salt.
- Oil the pan and place the salmon filet non-skin side down first onto the pan. It won’t matter which side for the steak.
- While watching the exposed side of the fish, flip the fish over when the cooked salmon side has turned from pink to less pink. The change in color will start from the side closest to the pan and you will see a change in color going upward to the top When the side of the fish has changed color half-way up, flip the fish over. This can happen in less than 4 mins so watch carefully. It also wouldn’t be hard to flip when it’s ready. If you see any sticking, then it was probably not ready to flip. It is normal to see some white stuff (albumin) ooze from fish (see picture below).
- After flipping, you should see a nice brown crust on the surface.
- The fish should be ready in the next 2-3 minutes and you can tell by watching the color change on the side of the fish again.
- Remove from pan immediately if you don’t want the fish to keep cooking. It’s ok if the skin side of the filet remains stuck on the pan as people generally don’t eat fish skin anyways even though it is edible.
- (Optional) Garnish with chopped ginger.
- (Optional and Recommended) Serve with white rice and lightly-seasoned steamed vegetables.
Steps 2 is optional if you feel your fish is dry enough and the pan is hot enough. We have done this recipe omitting it before as long as those 2 criteria are met.
We love making this salmon with this simple recipe as it’s fast and easy. It basically boils down to prepping the fish to be as dry as possible, making sure the pan is hot, and just salt and peppering it away. We really enjoy biting into the savory, crispy surface that is met with the tender meat inside. The oils from the filet skin also keep the inside meat tender as well.
Tip #1: When buying salmon, try to find to pick the one that has the same thickness throughout for more even cooking. If possible, choose wild caught over farm raised types.
Tip #2: If the salmon was not bought pre-frozen, plan to cook it within a day for maximum flavor.
Edit: I came across this NYTimes Cooking article that gives the whole low-down on the buying and cooking of salmon after publishing this post. It is worth the read.
- We don’t recommend saving leftovers as the beautiful crust won’t be as good the following day. My mom has always said that any leftover fish is a far greater waste than the leftovers of anything else.
- If your salmon is really thick (>1 in) and you find the salmon meat to be too raw, simply put it back on the pan again for a few more mins and keep watching the change in color from the inside of the meat.