HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Cooking wild salmon

I'm making a wild salmon fillet tonight for dinner and was wondering how to cook it. Bake, broil? Thinking of marinading it in honey, oj, and soy sauce. I've heard that wild salmon doesn't change colors when cooked like farmed salmon. So how do I know when it's done?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Be careful when marinating fish, especially when there's an acid in the marinade ingredients (in this case, the orange juice). Do not marinate for longer than 30 minutes, refrigerated. Longer than this and the fish will start to "cook" and turn mushy.

    Wild salmon is less fatty than farmed salmon, so it's easier to overcook and become dry. Salmon's doneness is not judged by colour, but by opacity - the centre should still be somewhat opaque (glossy and translucent) in relation to the outer portions.

    I prefer to bake fish at high temperatures (425 to 450). No need to turn the fish. Estimate about 10 to 13 minutes for a 6 to 7-ounce fillet. Check the centre of one fillet with the tip of a paring knife at the 10-minute mark. And remember, it will continue to cook after you've removed it from the oven.

    1. It's also a lot drier than farmed, so watch it carefully. Make a topping with panko crumbs butter, mustard, lemon juice salt and thyme. Dry the fillets and press about 1/4 inch of the mixture onto the fish. Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes.

      1. I like to pan sear salmon. I have done it with wild salmon and it turns out quite well. My "recipe" is as follows:
        Pat the fish dry and rub with a spice mixture that includes a bit of salt (whatever you want)
        Sear over med-high heat in a little bit of oil (how long depends on how thick the fish is - something along the lines of 3-4 min/side)
        Remove the fish to rest for a few minutes, meanwhile make a pan sauce (here you could use the orange juice, etc without risking the mushy fish problem from marinading too long)
        Serve. :-)

        1. ditto on the pan-sear. although i prefer it cooked more rare. depending on the thickness, about 2 minutes per side does it for me. remember, it will continue to "cook" while it's resting, off the heat.

          1. Salmon doesn't need a marinade. At most it needs a glaze.

            Get yourself some cedar planks of the type used for barbecuing. Soak them for several hours in water with a filled cup weighing them down. Put the salmon directly on the plank, skin-side down if it has it, and if you must, brush a small amount of glaze over the fish. I think simple salt and pepper is good enough, since you'll be getting the smoke flavor of the cedar.

            Then put on the grill and cook it, the plank both smoking and steaming it. Know when it is done by the finger test, same as any fish, and serve it on the plank itself.

            If you did it undressed, all it will need is a lemon wedge and a salt shaker. Enjoy.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Kevin Andrew Murphy

              Actually, Kevin is right - it's best to glaze salmon, rather than marinate it. My favourite glaze for salmon is a simple mixture of Dijon mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Sometimes I'll add in a bit of ancho chili powder.

              Guess what we're having for dinner tonight? With buttermilk mashed potatoes...

              1. re: FlavoursGal

                hey gal, i'm thinking of using this glaze over farm salmon for v-day...how long and how may i ask do you glaze it? (vegetarian) any help would rock!

                1. re: lollya

                  Glaze #1: Mix about 1 part good-quality Dijon mustard with about 2 parts maple syrup. Add salt and pepper to taste, and some ancho chili powder, if desired. Sorry I don't have exact measurements for this one, but I do for the one that follows.

                  Glaze #2:
                  For 4 salmon fillets (6-8 oz each):

                  1/4 cup mayo
                  2 tsp water
                  1 1/2 tsp liquid honey
                  1 tsp Dijon mustard
                  1 tsp ancho chili powder
                  1/4 tsp garlic powder
                  1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper
                  2 green onions (scallions), sliced.

                  Combine all ingredients except the green onions. Using a pastry brush, coat the salmon evenly over the tops and sides. Bake at 450F until the very centre of one of the fillets is still slightly underdone when cut into with a paring knife, about 14 to 15 minutes.* Garnish with the green onions.

                  *This is the timing for farmed ATLANTIC salmon. For doneness, the very centre of the salmon should look slightly darker than the surrounding area and still be a bit glossy and translucent.

                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                    Thanks so much!!!! I'm sure my boy's belly will be happy with this recipe. I appreciate your time.

                    1. re: lollya

                      Not a problem. I use the maple syrup recipe when I smoke salmon in my electric smoking oven. It's out of this world. It'll be just as good when roasted in the oven.

                      I came up with the mayo recipe a couple of years ago, and it's still a favourite.

              2. re: Kevin Andrew Murphy

                i agree with the cedar planks.

                i usually keep my salmon simple... season with just soy sauce or most of the time i use a little evoo, lemon juice, s&p, and put onions slices on top (while cooking)
                serve with onion and lemon wedges sometimes sprinkle with dill for mostly the color and a little added flavor.

                1. re: Kevin Andrew Murphy

                  where do i buy cedar planks? i love cedar plank-grilled salmon, but i'm always at a loss as to where to buy the planks

                  1. re: ronrkey

                    Lumberyard is easy and cheap. Just make sure to buy untreated. Measure your grill length and have them custom cut. I just made cedar-planked salmon for the first time for Mother's Day and will post about it sometime this week. It was incredible!

                2. Some good answers here....but I'd like to ask some questions before answering. Is your "wild salmon" Atlantic or Pacific? Do you know the breed? (King, Silver or Sockeye, Chum or Dog, etc?). These factors all affect taste before you even get to the question of marinades, glazes, and spices.

                  Ideally, for wild salmon I prefer a grill or better yet a smoker with apple wood, a bit of garlic and apple juice to keep it moist, it cooks quickly, so be careful. (I usually put the juice, garlic, and salmon in a boat of foil, then put it on the grill, then finish it on the grill at the end to give it that "grilled" look. If a grill isn't available then I bake it. OJ I think too powerful for salmon, a good wild salmon doesn't need much of anything except an accent--it should be great on its own.

                  1. Update, for those of you interested (I flatter myself)...It was an individually flash frozen wild Alaskan sockeye salmon fillet from WF. I splashed some soy sauce on it about 1/2 hour before cooking, then threw it into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Moist and flaky, alongside some orzo and salad, it made a great dinner. Thanks for your help - I don't know how I cooked before CH.com!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: superkatie

                      Excellent!! I love sockeye so much better than any other variety of salmon for just eating....I'm jealous since I haven't had any in some time!

                    2. i just found a slow-bake salmon recipe that was incredible- very low heat does the trick: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                      i didn't make the sauce in this recipe, but served it with a sweet soy based glaze.

                      love searing and grilling the fish too- but this is wonderful! the texture is like custard. soooo soft and juicy.

                      1. Here's my fast, "baked in foil" simple salmon recipe...my husband LOVES this:

                        Works best with heavy duty foil. Take out enough to be able to enclose the entire fish with room to spare.

                        Lay fish on the foil.
                        Splash a little lite soy sauce.
                        Scatter 2 bunches of chopped up scallions (white and green part)
                        Scatter several slices of fresh raw ginger.
                        Optional: season with lemon pepper seasoning
                        Seal it up in the foil and bake in a hot oven (about 400 degrees) for about 10 minutes (until fish is done)...don't overcook.

                        This is fantastic!!!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cimero

                          Because wild salmon has such a great flavour, it can handle a strong "topping." I mash a few cloves of garlic in a pestle with salt and a splash of olive oil, then add in a handful of dill and mash until it until it's a paste. (Alternatively, you can finely mince the dill and then mix it with the garlic paste).

                          Then just shmear a nice coating all over the fish and pop in the oven to cook (not broil). I cook it on 500, so that it approximates broiling but doesn't char my dilly-garlic crust.

                          The garlic mellows with cooking in the oven and salmon and dill go oh-so well together....so it's really a nice flavour sensation.


                          1. re: cimero

                            Just a technique reminder when using foil: very gently roll/fold up the sides. People have a tendancy to bear down hard on the folds and crimps, thinking it will better seal all in. Such pressure can result in small tears at the corners, ruining the dish. This tip may be more relevant to us who cannot get the near industrial strength foil available in the US.

                          2. The general rule for cooking fish (but not shellfish) is 10 minutes total per inch of thickness on the stovetop, medium heat. This was a figure arrived at by some Canadian gov't agency.

                            Wild salmon, in particular, has so much flavor that I prefer it only with lemon juice, or maybe with a little homemade tartar sauce (mayo, lemon juice, pickle relish and parsley.

                            1. When my first wife and I lived in Anchorage, though we never fished ourselves someone would give us a salmon at least once a year. The first one we got just after moving into a house that came with a charcoal grill and a hinged wire basket - I just made up some lemon and garlic butter and bathed it in this before and during cooking. It was both my first salmon and the first time I'd ever grilled! And it was wonderful.

                              However, the second time Pam remembered a stuffing recipe she'd gotten from a neighbor on Fort Richardson, and although it sounded a little gross to me we made that and stuffed and baked the salmon in foil. I was amazed at how perfectly the flavors worked - if anything, this was even better than the grilled fish:

                              Have all ingredients at room temperature. To each quart of small stale (but not crunchy-dry) breadcrumbs, add about one-third cup each of minced celery and onion, and toss together. Stir in Heinz Chili Sauce, about a tablespoon at a time, until the crumbs are just lightly moistened (if you can't get Chili Sauce use a combination of good spicy catsup and pickle relish). Add salt (and pepper if you want) to taste - it shouldn't taste salty. Loosely stuff the fish with this and wrap in greased heavy foil. I bake fish at 300º-350º, especially if it's stuffed, so everything gets cooked evenly.

                              If it were totally up to me I'd experiment with dill relish instead of sweet pickle relish, but I de-sweeten recipes around here at my peril ;-)