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How to Cook the Perfect Salmon Filet

Updated on November 16, 2015

Cooking a perfect salmon fillet is not hard!

Living in the Northwest, salmon is pretty much a regular item on the menu. When we are actually managing to catch some at least. Being that I blog a lot about fishing, the question occasionally comes across my desk of how to cook a perfect fillet of salmon. There is no reason to think that you need to go to a high end fish house to get a perfectly seasoned and cooked salmon fillet. With a little bit of information you too can turn out perfect salmon fillets for your family and guests!

Take your time and lets go through what you need to know to cook a perfect salmon fillet that will leave your family begging for more!

Photo used under Creative Commons from Another Pint Please.

The Perfect Salmon Fillet Starts With Top Notch Salmon!

The fresher the salmon, the better the finished fillet will be!

The first thing you need to find is really fresh salmon. Fish starts breaking down fairly quickly after it is caught and will quickly start smelling and tasting 'fishy'. For more info on why check out "Why does my salmon smell fishy?" In general, if you are going to buy fresh, never frozen salmon you need to find a busy store to buy it from. If your local grocer got a great shipment of salmon on Monday and it is now Friday and you want fish for dinner, the quality is going to suffer.

Don't discount frozen salmon!

If you have having a hard time finding really fresh salmon, consider frozen salmon! This may seem like sacrilege, but the fact is that FAS (frozen at sea) salmon is quite often superior to the salmon that has been hanging around in the grocer's case for a week.

Salmon Recipes and Cook Books - Need ideas on how to cook your salmon?

How to pick a good salmon filet

Salmon Fillet - To marinade or not?

There are two camps when it comes to preparing salmon fillets for cooking, those that marinade their fillets and those that don't. Personally it is a matter of what fish I am cooking and my mood. If I have a good piece of fresh, wild Chinook, I will go minimalistic with just some sea salt or seasoning salt and enjoy the flavor. Other times I want to give my salmon more flavor and will marinade it for a while to kick the flavor up a notch.

Salmon Fillet Marindade I

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets

lemon pepper to taste

garlic powder to taste

salt to taste

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Salmon Fillet Marinade II

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 c. onion, grated

1 tsp. freshly grated ginger

1 tsp. minced garlic

2 tbsp. Tamari soy sauce

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. paprika

With either marinade, you simply place all the seasonings in a zip-lock type bag, mix then add the salmon fillets. Marinade up to two hours in the fridge before serving.

Salmon Seasoning Mixes

Sometimes your salmon just needs a little more kick to make it really shine!

Cooking the Perfect Salmon Fillet on Your Stove Top

If your are going to cook a perfect salmon fillet on your stove top, then the first thing you need is the right pan. Modern aluminum non-stick pans excel in keeping food from sticking, but beyond the fact that they leech hazardous chemicals into the air and food, they don't have enough thermal mass to properly cook things like steaks and fillets of fish. In my book the best pan for the jog is a solid cast iron cooking pan, preferably with grills. It will get as hot as you want, will hold heat beautifully and you will never have to replace it if you treat it right!

Instructions for Cooking a Salmon Fillet on Your Stove Top

1. Heat your pan on high until water sizzles when splashed on it.

2. Swirl a thin layer of vegetable oil onto the pan.

3. Add salmon fillets skin side down and cook for 3-4 minutes.

4. Turn once when the fish is well browned and easily releases from the pan

5. Cook 3-4 minutes more until the salmon is flake and still moist but not translucent

WARNING!: Whatever you do, don't fiddle with your salmon fillets! All you will do is mess them up. If you are checking for doneness, just lift one edge a slight bit.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Your Neighborhood Librarian.

Video Instructions - Video instructions on how to cook a perfect salmon fillet.

Cooking a Perfect Salmon Fillet on the Grill

Grilling the perfect salmon fillet takes practice and knowing your grill! Essentially the process is much the same as with cooking a salmon fillet in a pan, just with the added challenge of cooking on a grill (along with the added flavor).

Instructions for Grilling a Perfect Salmon Fillet

1. Clean your grill grates. Dirty grates mean dirty fish and contribute to sticking!

2. Oil your grill grates

3. Preheat you grill to medium high.

4. Place your fillets on the grill and cook 7-10 minutes.

5. Flip once and cook 6-8 minutes more until done.

Timing on a grill is a bit more tricky, but you can watch as the fish turns less translucent and gauge when you are needing to flip it or remove it from the heat. Remember, it will continue to cook a little after you remove it from the heat, this is called carry-over and can take perfect salmon and make it dry. So pull your salmon right as soon as it done and is just flaky.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Another Pint Please.

Are you trying to incorporate more fish into you diet? Salmon is an excellent choice being that it is generally sustainably managed and is loaded with lots of Omega-3 oils that we all need more of. Here is an excellent book of salmon recipes that will give you more reasons to have fish for dinner!

Perfectly prepared salmon fillet

Perfectly prepared salmon fillet
Perfectly prepared salmon fillet

Affiliate Disclosure

I (Chris Cliff) am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program (as well as others), an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising. Purchasing anything via a link on one of my lenses may make me some money, but it cost you nothing. Now you have been fully disclosed. Feel better? LOL

I would love to hear your thoughts on what the perfect way to season and cook the perfect salmon fillet is. Do you salt and season or prefer to marinade? Let your voice be heard and declare your side!

Share your favorite salmon marinade or seasoning mix! - Or just tell me what you think of this lens!

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