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Salmon is one of nature’s perfect foods. It’s healthy, nutrient-dense and rich in omega-3 fats which are important for your heart health and your brain function. So, a salmon a day could keep the doctor away!
However, as simple and filling as salmon is, it can pose some challenges in the kitchen. Here are seven of the most common mistakes people make when cooking salmon (and how to avoid them):
1. Thawing In The Microwave
Frozen salmon can be an inexpensive and easy addition to your healthy diet, but be careful when you decide to defrost it for dinner time. Nuking it in the microwave will lead to a rubbery piece of fish. Instead, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight, or toss it in a Ziploc bag and run it under cold water. Or, consider cooking it from frozen. Just rinse off the ice crystals and pop it in the oven (be prepared for it to take longer than a defrosted piece of fish). Try this recipe from Snack Girl.
2. Taking Off The Skin
I am embarrassed to admit this…I used to think that you had to take the skin off the salmon before you cooked it! But, in fact, the skin is one of the most flavorful parts, especially if you cook it correctly and get a nice crisp on it. Bon Appetit says that the only time you should remove the skin is when you’re poaching filets. This recipe from Civilized Cavemen Cooking provides an easy instructions for getting a crispy skin every time.
3. Using The Wrong Pan
It’s not a good idea to use a cast-iron pan when cooking fish. A delicate piece of fish such as salmon does better in a nonstick pan, especially if you are more of an intermediate or novice chef. Nonstick pans have a bit of a bad rap in today’s eco-conscious climate, but the good news is that many nonstick options are are Teflon-free and promise to be better for your health. Check out this option on Amazon.
4. Over-Marinating The Salmon
While chicken can marinate overnight, salmon (and most fish, actually) should not be marinated for more than an hour. Salmon can easily become mushy with an long marinade time, so aim for 15 to 60 minutes and no longer. As for seasoning, less is more. A good piece of salmon can sing with just fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon. This simple recipe from Mom’s Dish calls for just a handful of ingredients, most of which are probably already in your pantry.
5. Not Letting The Salmon Rest
No, I am not asking you to pull over a La-Z-Boy for your salmon! Instead, you just need to make sure that fish is room temperature before cooking it. Aim for about 15 minutes on the counter after you take it out of the fridge. Use that time to whip up a great sauce to accompany your salmon, such as this citrus sauce with lemon, lime and rosemary from BSugarMama.
6. Seasoning The Salmon Too Soon
Speaking of seasoning, here’s a very important tip: If you season your salmon a good bit prior to cooking it, you could pay the price. Salt will draw moisture out of your salmon, so if you apply your seasoning too soon, you could have a dry fishie on your hands! Chef Kelli Foster at The Kitchn advises seasoning your fish right before you toss it in the pan. This recipe from Kirbie’s Cravings provides a wonderful recipe for homemade ranch seasoning that will turn your salmon into something spectacular.
7. Overcooking The Salmon
Nothing is worse than an overcooked piece of fish! If cooking on the stove, the average serving of salmon should only take about 3 to 4 minutes per side. If you are baking it in the oven, it should only take about 15 to 20 minutes in a 425-degree oven. This recipe for pecan-crusted oven-baked Salmon from Simple Healthy Kitchen is restaurant-quality but easy to prepare…and even easier to devour!