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Mar 21, 2010 01:08 AM

Recommendations for cooking lean salmon

As far as proteins go, I find seafood the easiest to cook - I am rarely disappointed with the results. That said, I find myself with a freezer full of very lean (skin-on) sockeye salmon filets that seem to dry out no matter what I do to them. Roasting with lube, pan roasting, sauteeing in pieces - it all comes out very unmoist and tough. It's not an overcooking issue, as I'm getting it just to the point of temp. I haven't tried poaching yet (I suspect that poaching in water, wine, or broth wouldn't help the dryness, and I don't want to poach in oil or deep fry because of the residual oil smell). How would you recommend I cook these guys?

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  1. Sockeye salmon is a small-bodied fish--around 6 lb., compared to its massive counterparts like the coho and king salmon. It has a firm meat with little fat in it, making it dry up almost immediately after it has been cooked all the way through. If you don't keep a careful eye on the fish when you cook it, you may end up with a dry, crumbly fillet instead of the moist flakiness most people prefer. I guess this is what's happening to you.

    Use moist cooking methods, like marinating briefly (salmon absorbs marinades readily and you don't want to overwhelm the great flavor) then high-heat grill or cook in hot cast iron, meat side down to start, or glaze and broil, poach in a flavorful court bouillon, grill on a cedar plank (with extra moisture from the soaked plank.) I've even hear of cooking the fillets from the frozen state.

    Sockeye, because of it's full flavor, is also good for tartare or smoked.

    Here's a link for an oil-poached salmon recipe. I think you should give it a try; you may be pleasantly surprised and certainly have moister fish. You don't get the residual oil smell from poaching as you do from deep frying, as you're using a much lower oil temperature.

    Do a search for "oil-poached salmon", "sockeye salmon", "salmon recipes", here at chow. Click on relevance under "sort by." I found a number of interesting older threads but wasn't able to link them to this post; maybe it's a maintenance issue at this hour.

    Anyway, good luck and here's to moister fish.

    1. Marinade (lemon, chives, bit of butter & olive oil OR shoyu, chives, toasted sesame oil,) and cook covered tightly with plastic wrap briefly in the MW.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        This a delicious way to cook wild salmon. We like the soy sauce/minced chives/toasted sesame oil combination best. I usually marinate the fish for 30 minutes. That seems perfect for us.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          I dunno about cooking salmon wrapped in plastic in the Micro. There are questions about cancer causing plastic in microwaves and Sam, this is the least aesthtic means of cooking I have heard from you in 2 years. I'd use a grill, hibachi or wicked hot oven.

        2. I poach in a court buillon, just acidulated water with onion, herbs, black pepper that has been boiled 5 minutes before the fish is put in. Simmer until the fish is solidified (about 5-7 minutes) and then either serve hot or chill in the liquid and serve cold, in each case with a a sauce (hollandaise type or mustard based or even a salsa).

            1. bake it - smother it first with salsa (I enjoy the mango-peach salsa from Costco), cover the dish, and bake it until desired doneness.