How to Cook Salmon

Dear Tyler,

There are many ways to cook salmon. I am going to suggest one or two simple methods here to get you going.

I like to cook extra when salmon is on the menu because it makes great salmon salad, like tuna salad. When you were little, the first time you have salmon salad, you came home from school and told me it was the best tuna fish sandwich you ever had.

So you will like salmon as a salad, if you don’t recall.

To make the salmon salad, I used Saffron Aioli, which will be the next posting for you.

To address the salmon:

The easiest way for you to cook it is to  start by rinsing the fish under cold water. If you have a large piece, cut it into pieces about 1″ thick, or as thick as you want your portions to be.

Feel along the flesh to locate pin bones. If you find some, pull them out with needle nose pliers.

Pat it dry with a paper towel.

Rub your fingers over the fish to feel for any “pin bones”. Pull these out with a pair of needle nose pliers. They are hard to get out, that is why we use the pliers. If you don’t have pliers, try to pull them out with your fingers, being careful not to destroy the flesh while doing so.

Be careful not to destroy the flesh as you remove the pin bones. If can be pulled apart easily. Look carefully, see how this part of the fish looks ‘damaged’? It isn’t all smooth and together like the rest of the fish.

If the skin is still on, don’t try to remove it. There is a technique I will need to coach you on later and that will be done in person. The skin will be very easy to remove after the fish is cooked.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. (When the light goes out, the oven has reached 350°F) Pre-heating the oven may take up to 5-10 minutes depending on your oven. Plan ahead.

Oil an oven proof dish so the salmon won’t stick.

Season the fish with at least salt and pepper. You don’t have to use much, but a pinch will make all the difference. Use your favorite.
Notice the cut portion size.

Season the fish with your favorite seasonings. Salt and pepper are just fine, add a squeeze of lime or lemon; drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Place a saute pan on the heat and get the pan hot. Add a small amount of oil to cover the bottom of the pan with a thin-film of oil. You can brush it on or pour it and tilt the pan to get the bottom coated.

Place the salmon in the pan, top serving side down first. Sear it until it is golden brown. If the fish is ‘sticking’ to the pan, wait a minute or two. When the salmon is ready to turn, it will release on its own.

Using a metal spatula with slots in it, to turn the salmon over.

This tool is called a fish spatula –  but it is useful for much more than fish!

Place the pan in the oven to finish cooking the fish while you get the rest of the dinner ready.

Total cooking time for salmon is in the general area of 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, the accurate temperature of the oven and how long does the salmon stay on the burner or in the oven.

Safety Hint!

Only place pans in the oven that have oven proof handles! If the handles are plastic or other than metal, they cannot be put in the oven. Check your pans to see if the handles are oven proof before you put the pan in the oven.

Continue to cook the fish until it is no longer raw in the center. You can eat salmon medium rare and even raw, but I would advise buying “Sushi Grade” salmon if you want to eat it less than done.

Sushi grade will cost nearly double. It goes through a freezing process to kill any parasites that won’t be killed by cooking.

If you want to cook some rice to go with the salmon, plan on cooking that just before you start the salmon. It will take about 20 minutes for basmati rice; 50 to 1 hour for brown and heavier grain rice.

While the salmon is cooking, steam some vegetables. In the photo, I chose “Romanesco” which is like a green cauliflower but the florets form a very interesting logarithmic spiral  growth pattern.

English: The fractal shape form of a Romanesco...

English: The fractal shape form of a Romanesco broccoli. Français : Une tête de chou Romanesco et sa forme fractale. Photo prise avec un appareil Canon D-60 équipé d’un objectif 18-135 mm IS de même marque.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It tastes a bit like a mix between broccoli and cauliflower. Sometimes called Romanesco broccoli or Roman cauliflower, this vegetable has been around since the 16th century.

Since you like broccoli, look for this too. I am sure you will love it just as much. I like it for the wonderful oddness of it all. To me it is just a marvel!

Cook it the same as you would broccoli.

Other ways to cook salmon:

Another way to cook your fish is to wrap it all up in a tin foil bundle and bake it at 350°F for 10 -15 minutes; until it is done.

Squeeze some fresh lemon or lime juice over the salmon, plate it and gobble it all up.

Or

Place the fish on a sheet pan or oven proof dish and instead of sauteing it in a pan, simply place the dish in a pre-heated oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until done.

The fish is cooked in all cooking methods when it is no longer dark salmon color in the center, it flakes easily and it reads 145°F on an instant read thermometer.

Cold salmon is delicious too.

It will flake easily when done.

When thinking about what seasonings to choose for salmon, remember salmon has a salty profile with a tinge of sweetness. Sweet vinaigrette such as raspberry vinaigrette or honey Dijon vinaigrette make a great sauce for salmon.

Mix white balsamic (or dark balsamic) vinegar with Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Add olive oil to smooth it out and use that as a sauce. Adjust quantities to taste. You don’t need to make a lot.

Whisk it all together and voila! For raspberries, use melted raspberry jam (seedless) or mash some fresh or thawed frozen berries through a wire mesh strainer to get the pulp without the seeds.

That’s another post!

Let me know if you have any questions.

Bon Apetit!

Love,

Mom

Rungis Market

Rungis Market is located just outside of Paris, France. It is the largest wholesale food market in Europe. The Tokyo Fish market and Rungis rival by claiming each is the largest in the world.

The Rungis Market has huge areas dedicated to fish, meat, cheese, produce and flowers. The place is a city all its own and that city is mostly alive at the very wee hours of the morning. In fact the fish house closes between 5 and 6 AM. Other houses soon follow.

We joined up with a culinary school from Scotland to make the minimum 20 for our all around tour. Phillipe was our guide for 2 years in a row and quite a good guide too. He told us stories of how the fish they are seeing now aren’t as large as fish they got in the past due to over fishing of certain species such as Tuna and Salmon.He told us of growing fields in northern Africa where acres of produce is grown and shipped in to the market.

This market was once located in the Les Halles area of Paris. The army came in and moved the entire market overnight to the new Rungis location. The entire re-location was hush-hush and only revealed after the move was complete.

We were outfitted in silly thin paper coats for sanitation, ice and water all over the floors (slippery) and fish everywhere being hustled about on flat beds, forklifts and all in a rush to finish their business by 6AM. You had to watch and listen for the ‘beep-beeps’ as the fish were hustled where ever they were rushing them to.

The meat house was akin to being in a nightmare. Meat carcasses hung everywhere – pigs, cows, goats, lamb, and even horse. Although the horse was not in when we were there they do, on occasion, carry it.

One pork house had pig heads in a pile. One guys job was to yank the tongues out and toss the tongueless head into a big wheeled basket full of other tongueless heads. One fell out as it was tossed, the next worker came by and  it out of the way of the wheels and moved the entire grotesque basket to another room behind big blood smeared doors.

I know these are cow heads, not pigs. The pigs were in a pile getting their tongues ripped out, these got the distinction of being hung on steel pegs for some reason.

Later that evening on a menu, when seeing “Tête de cochon”, I thought to myself, yeah, saw that kicked too. Next?

They sell birds with the feet and heads on so the type of bird can be identified.

The produce markets are displayed like incredible masterpieces of produce arrangement. Such beautiful fruits and vegetables!

The cheese house features cheeses aging in all stages. There are several cheese Americans would consider spoiled by the amount of mold forming on the outside rind. There is even one cheese you need to knock the bugs out of before you cut it. It looks like a cantaloupe inside and out. The cheese is very tasty. I wish I could remember the name of it.

My favorite cheese is a goat cheese called “Pouligny St. Pierre”, so yummy.

The flower market is spectacular. I wished I could buy a bunch for my hotel room but, they only sell them by the truck load it seems.

This market is a must visit for food tourists. The only thing is you need to have a group of 20 to qualify for a tour. If you go, ask for Phillipe if he is still there. He is a great guide and speaks wonderful English, and French and probably several other languages as well.

We had the best croissants, hot chocolate and cafe au lait at this market. Phillipe arranged for us to stop in one of the restaurants that serve the vendors after our tour. He had to make a special request because the restaurant was typically closing for the day when we finished with our tour. The restaurant is located next to the fish house.

There were coffee stands and a bar inside the meat house. It was odd to see all the meat workers in their chain mail guards over clothes with scimitars strapped in steel sheaths.

I have to apologize for the quality of the photos here, I was trying to be discrete about taking photos. I must say that considering the job these men do, their all white clothing was actually not too bad.

To to end this lovely visit, the produce and flower pavilions.

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