It’s true what they say – there are plenty of fish in the sea. But, without a doubt, salmon is gills and fins above the rest.
Packed with more than just incredible flavor, salmon is full of protein, vitamins, and minerals (including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12) and, most notably, omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s are one of the best types of fat you can ingest; they help to lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis. And you have to ingest them in a food or supplement if you want them at all since our body can’t make them.
But why on earth would you want to take Omega-3 supplements when you can get these health benefits in one delicious package? Also known as, the salmon.
This infamous pink fish is a treat year-round, but it’s especially tantalizing in the summertime. (Honestly, what fish isn’t best during the sunniest season?) However, something this incredible for your taste buds and your body isn’t the easiest thing for a novice chef to cook.
There had to be something standing in your way, didn’t there?
Well, never fear! There is a quick and easy way for even the least-experienced cook to nail salmon every time.
Picking Your Salmon
When it comes to selecting your fillets, try to avoid frozen options, if possible. Your local fish shop or fish counter at the grocery store will undoubtedly have the best cuts of salmon possible.
In general, it’s the safest bet to opt for wild salmon over farmed salmon; from an environmental standpoint, salmon farms have been shown to negatively affect both the fish themselves and the ocean itself.
Farmed salmon is more likely to carry diseases and may contain chemicals that are used to treat farmed salmon.
Naturally, some farms use more conscious methods and are considered safer than others. If you know where the salmon was bred, and you feel comfortable with the methods used, then, by all means, invest in farmed salmon.
When in doubt, never hesitate to ask the person from whom you’re purchasing your salmon anything you’d like. Most fishmongers are more than happy to answer any questions you have about where your salmon came from and how to best prepare it.
As for the latter, we have a few tips that should help your cooking adventure go smoothly.
Preparing Your Salmon
Unlike other kinds of fishes and meats, salmon is too perishable to risk defrosting before cooking. That being said, the best practice when cooking salmon is to either cook from a fresh fillet that hasn’t been frozen or directly from its frozen form.
Do not rinse your salmon under your faucet; this will only help to spread germs and bacteria in your sink or onto your fish. Simply pat your fillet with a paper towel on both sides and you’re good to start cooking!
Cooking Your Salmon
Usually, the biggest fear people have when it comes to cooking salmon is overcooking the fish. Salmon can overcook easily, but it shouldn’t be a problem if you know the trick: removing it from the heat just before you think it’s done.
The fish continues to cook after you’ve removed it from the heat, so it’s best to undercook it a tad and let it finish off in the stove.
Salmon is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 145° F. Aim to take it off the heat at 140° F. When salmon has been properly cooked, it will be opaque and will flake easily with a fork.
Plating Your Salmon
If you want to make a meal of your hard work (which, we hope, you do) you’ll want to know what pairs best with your freshly cooked filet.
When it comes to flavors, salmon is an extremely versatile meat; tangy Asian flavors, as well as lemony basil flavors, are just a few of our favorite choices. Putting a Mexican spin on your salmon (fish tacos, anyone?) with some chipotle sauce is also a wonderful choice, or you can choose blander, buttery flavors for your fish.
The world is truly your, er, salmon.
For wines, the rich and buttery notes of chardonnay or the warm spiced nature of pinot noir are usually the best pairings. But, as with seasoning, salmon can be paired with any beer or wine with some acidity.
Now you can enjoy all the flavor, the incredible pairing opportunities (side note, we love salmon with lemon and roasted asparagus!), and all of the health benefits our fishy friend has to offer – without the fear of wasting money and burning down your kitchen!
See? You really can have it all.
Photo Credit: Steven Zolneczko via Flickr