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Do you "finish" salmon with olive oil?

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  • rungj Jun 8, 2014 04:24 PM
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I've never understood the logic of putting additional fat on a dish that is already fatty, like putting butter on a steak. I've been cooking salmon frequently and I know some people put olive oil on before serving. What's the point of adding extra fat?

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  1. Flavor. Why put salad dressing on a salad? Not to add fat but flavor.

    3 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      I wish this whole "fat is flavor" trope would go away. Fat can be a carrier for flavor, but most fats are actually very bland. Too much fat can mute flavors, which is why you skim fat from a stew such as boeuf bourguignon. Not for your health, but so it doesn't taste muddy.

      One thing fat does add is a richer mouthfeel. That can be important, but it is not the same thing as flavor. Olive oil does have flavor, but that is due to other compounds in an extra-virgin oil, not the fat itself (pure olive oil is bland). Taste unsalted butter or lard on their own. Bland. Fat is being added mostly for mouthfeel, and sometimes as a carrier for certain flavorful compounds in the other ingredients. And it can be overdone. It is not a the-more-the-better thing.

      1. re: MelMM

        I use unsalted butter and it does have flavor. I can taste the difference between some brands and keep several in my fridge. Same with oils - I have many and flavor is one of the reasons for the variety.

        Bland would be the last word I'd use for anything cooked in duck fat.

        Judicious use of a well chosen fat can be a very important component to a dish.

        1. re: MelMM

          Thank you. More fat is not always better.

      2. I like cold salmon with aoli but I don't oil hot salmon. But butter on steak yessir.

        1 Reply
        1. re: magiesmom

          I have a Meyer lemon olive oil that I love to drizzle a bit over fish.

        2. Cooking is not centered on logic but on flavor.

          Following your train of thought no one would add icing to cupcakes or cheese to a burger.....

          If you don't like it or want to then don't.

          1. it's for people who either
            1) don't have an appreciation of the actual flavor of the underlying ingredient
            or
            2) don't have a high quality underlying ingredient (i.e. freezer burned steak is more palatable when doused with grease. fish, past it's prime, can be salvaged by serving it covered with fat of some sort.)
            or
            3) don't really know how to cook to preserve/highlight the actual flavor of the food.

            63 Replies
            1. re: westsidegal

              http://www.today.com/id/52742677/ns/t...

              Nuff said.

              1. re: mcf

                THAT just got saved!

                1. re: mcf

                  In that case, you have fish cooked in almost no fat at all. And the olive oil in the sauce is being used to carry the flavor of the herbs.

                  1. re: MelMM

                    Did you read the OP?

                    1. re: mcf

                      Yes, the OP asked why you would put fat on a dish that is already fatty. The dish in the video was not already fatty.

                      1. re: MelMM

                        Right.

                        I can't even imagine why that's a question. It's not about macronutrient breakdown, it's about saucing and/or flavoring.

                2. re: westsidegal

                  Seriously? You can have a high-quality piece of fish or meat and add a little flavor with a compound butter or finishing oil. Neither 1, 2 or 3 apply, sorry.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    " westsidegal about 3 hours ago

                    it's for people who either
                    1) don't have an appreciation of the actual flavor of the underlying ingredient
                    or
                    2) don't have a high quality underlying ingredient (i.e. freezer burned steak is more palatable when doused with grease. fish, past it's prime, can be salvaged by serving it covered with fat of some sort.)
                    or
                    3) don't really know how to cook to preserve/highlight the actual flavor of the food."

                    Yes, all those wonderful dishes I've had in Italy that were finished with a drizzle of olive oil were cooked by idiot chefs who were using inferior ingredients. I should write those restaurants for my money back.

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      I'm sorry I didn't know enough to send back my morel risotto that the chef drizzled with a little truffle oil :)

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        Someone needs to talk to Thomas Keller:

                        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/mag...

                        http://books.google.com/books?id=nTI2...

                        Julia Child, butter on salmon:

                        http://books.google.com/books?id=MKeK...

                        Eric Ripert, olive oil on salmon:

                        http://books.google.com/books?id=3hlP...

                        1. re: chowser

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9783...

                          :-)

                          1. re: mcf

                            Haha, i saw that and then forgot. My short term memory is so sad, especially this time of day.

                            1. re: chowser

                              Moi Aussi!

                          2. re: chowser

                            Since we're citing Keller, from Bouchon:

                            "The primary techniques for Bouchon's beef bourguignon are those of refinement. That means skimming the stock thoroughly, removing all fat and particles, straining it well, and then removing the fat and vegetable particles from the the sauce. There will be fat from the searing of the meat, and this fat collects on the surface. It's these particles and fat that muddle flavor and dull the color and sheen of a stew."

                            So, yes, it is nice to add fat to certain dishes, but it is not a case of the more fat the better, or that all fat enhances flavor. Excess fat can muddy the flavor, and Keller recognizes that as much as anyone. It's about balance.

                            1. re: MelMM

                              Everything in moderation.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                including moderation

                              2. re: MelMM

                                It has nothing to do with anything. I eat high fat, I sauce or drizzle oil or butter on lots of stuff, melt cheese on it, etc.

                                But I hate the grease that collects on top of a braise, and I skim, then separate repeatedly before reducing the liquid to a delicious concentration with small dots of fat floated on it. I might also thicken with a beurre manie, though.

                                In contrast, I add butter, bacon and its fat, and cream to seafood stew for the silkiness and richness they add, and I use healthy fats from unpolluted sources. I see no reason not to from any perspective.

                                You're free not to, of course. But to suggest or agree that Keller, Childs and Ripert and pretty much all great chefs and home cooks are lacking skill or talent or taste buds because they add fat is kind of an unsupportable reach IMO.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  I have never suggested any such thing, nor do I say that I don't add fat to things that I think need it. My only point is that it isn't a the-more-the-better thing. There are times when fat enhances flavor, and there are times when it dulls flavor. It should be used appropriately. Fat does not equal flavor. It can enhance flavor. It is a carrier for certain fat-soluble compounds in some herbs, spices, and other ingredients. But in other cases, excess fat can make a dish unappetizing, and dull the flavors.

                                  1. re: MelMM

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9783...

                                    That's your recommendation, right?

                                    You're going all straw man argument here. It has nothing to do with "the more the better" it's about the fact that there's no reason not to. The OP was objecting to adding fat where fat already is. For so many reasons fat *is* flavor.

                                    And different people have different sensory experiences for all sorts of good an scientific reasons.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      I "liked" that post, because I could see it would be a minority opinion here, but I think it is an opinion worth considering.

                                      I don't think the OP was objecting to anything. I think the OP was asking a legitimate question, out of genuine curiosity. I realize some on this post sensed something hostile in the OP, but I did not. I just don't see it.

                                      You may think that fat=flavor, but we disagree there, and always will. I think fat enhances other flavors, in certain, but not all, cases. Some seasonings have fat-soluble compounds that will be more apparent in the dish if there is fat present. (Other seasonings have water-soluble compounds that are not enhanced at all by fat). Fat also adds a mouthfeel that we tend to like. So used with care and knowledge, fat can improve the flavor of your food.

                                      My original comment was simply my own reaction to the inevitable fat=flavor comments here. Which I think are an oversimplification of something more complex. I wasn't even responding to the OP, but to this knee-jerk response we see whenever someone posts such a question.

                                      1. re: MelMM

                                        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/...

                                        "The research found that the areas of the participants' brains which are responsible for the perception of flavour -- such as the somatosensory cortices and the anterior, mid & posterior insula -- were significantly more activated when the non-fatty sample was tested compared to the fatty emulsions despite having the same flavour perception. It is important to note that increased activation in these brain areas does not necessarily result in increased perception of flavour or reward"

                                        This is really telling, because receptors activate when less of something is available, and become less efficient or less active when there is more of it, so they work less efficiently.

                                        Feedback; every receptor in the body adjusts activity based upon the abundance or lack of it of what engages it.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          "This is really telling, because receptors activate when less of something is available, and become less efficient or less active when there is more of it, so they work less efficiently."

                                          Do you have any citations for this? Because I certainly did not get that out of the article.

                                          1. re: MelMM

                                            Nope, it's just something I've learned about receptor activity over many years of reading about it. A sort of analogy is a flooded engine vs. one that's getting just enough fuel. Response vs. slow or no response.

                                        2. re: MelMM

                                          So you agree that those chefs lack skill, appreciation for good or fresh ingredients, etc?

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            No, and I have not said anything to indicate that. Really, I think you are extrapolating wildly from what I have actually said, and trying to make an argument where there is a minor difference of opinion.

                                            1. re: MelMM

                                              You recommended a post that stipulated 3 things.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                I guess I did not realize that recommending a post means that I agree with every word of it, and all the assumed implications of those words by other readers. I already stated why I recommended the post, and have nothing else to say on the matter.

                                            2. re: mcf

                                              Remodeling still going on?

                                              '-D

                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                LOL :-)

                                                In punch list hell with a house full of painters and everything back under plastic and canvas.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  It's not too early for a drink '-)

                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                    We have a non-working, antique, wall clock that is set at 5:03. So it IS five o'clock always at our house :)

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      I need to get myself one of those.;-)

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        No, you don't :) We were visiting friends last year. It was about 430 and Tom asked me if we still had that clock. When I confirmed it, he suggested that it was martini time. You can 'use' our clock also :)

                                            3. re: MelMM

                                              your theory only works if you're talking about a spoonful of Crisco right out of the can.

                                              Other fats -- olive oil, duck fat, walnut oil, bacon fat, etc. -- most definitely DO have a flavor, and most assuredly DO add flavor to the dish.

                                      2. re: MelMM

                                        "it is not a case of the more fat the better, or that all fat enhances flavor"

                                        I don't know that anyone has said either. I sure didn't. The OP asked why add fat on fat and westsidegirl responded:

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9783...

                                        If that's the case, then those chefs, according to the post, don't know the flavor, can't cook or are using inferior products. I don't think that's the case.

                                      3. re: chowser

                                        i never said that it isn't done.
                                        i never said that it isn't done by famous chefs.

                                        hell, when i first started cooking as a personal chef, i did it all the time myself.
                                        covering up oily/fatty food with more oil or fat is done all the time.
                                        after i really learned how to cook, and, more importantly, how to source top flight ingredients, i reduced the amount of added fat on everything substantially.
                                        it is the easiest chef's cheat: just douse a dish in fat and everyone will like it.

                                        any home cook can douse his/her output in fat and it will taste fine. doesn't require much to do this, thankfully, because i relied on this cheat myself when i started out.
                                        also, it doesn't require an accomplished chef to do this.
                                        any ham fisted human being can figure out this skill.

                                        i laugh at people who pay upwards of $20 for a side dish of pasta with red sauce that has butter as a major ingredient. doesn't mean that i wouldn't replicate the stuff if that's what they want to pay me to do,
                                        but my take on red sauce is one that has some EVOO and that's IT--saturated fat does nothing to enhance the flavor of top quality tomatoes.
                                        also, since pasta doesn't start out being fatty it's not like i'm pouring fat over an ingredient like good salmon that is already fatty.
                                        of course if the salmon has been overcooked to the point of being dry, this would be a perfect way to cover up the error.

                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                          You are the one who talks about "dousing" or "covering something up" in fat. Good cooks don't do that.

                                          It's all in the deets.

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            Marcella Hazan must have it all wrong, bless her resting heart

                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                              Touché! Haha, thanks for an early morning chuckle

                                            2. re: westsidegal

                                              No on ever said the words "douse" or "pour" until you. The word most used has been "finish" which most of us have taken to mean a drizzle or the equivalent. Big difference.

                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                It's actually in the title. "Finish".

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  It's fascinating how some posters take a subject and totally misconstrue it to fit their own agenda so they can come off looking "superior."

                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                    <<It's fascinating how some posters take a subject and totally misconstrue it to fit their own agenda so they can come off looking "superior.">>

                                                    Uh Oh! Someone notify the mods! Flag ttommyy's post! He just posted something that was off-topic! There are strict, arbitrary and capricious rules governing off-topic posts on this thread. o_O

                                                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                      No big deal. I've had my fair share of posts pulled. :)

                                              2. re: westsidegal

                                                http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/101517...

                                                Maybe you just like to laugh at folks for not being you!

                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                  laugh at people who pay upwards of $20 for a side dish of pasta with red sauce that has butter as a major ingredient. doesn't mean that i wouldn't replicate the stuff if that's what they want to pay me to do,
                                                  but my take on red sauce is one that has some EVOO and that's IT--saturated fat does nothing to enhance the flavor of top quality tomatoes.

                                                  ***have you ever had the spaghetti with tomato and basil at Scarpetta? they "finish" with some butter... being of Italian heritage I thought "how good can it be?"
                                                  It was DELICIOUS!
                                                  You can laugh at me all you want...
                                                  (p.s. knowing where/when/how much fat to use is most certainly NOT a cheat... it's a skill)

                                              3. re: ttoommyy

                                                Well, Italy is known for lacking focus on quality and freshness of ingredients and lack of skillful chefs and home cooks, right?

                                              4. re: westsidegal

                                                You've never used a compound butter?

                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                  TOTALLY agree with #1. I like food to taste like what it is.

                                                  1. re: letsindulge

                                                    So, do you put butter on a baked potato?

                                                    1. re: letsindulge

                                                      Do you put dressing on a salad? Ketchup on a burger? Mustard on a hotdog? Mayo or an aioli on a sandwich? Finishing a dish with olive oil is the same idea. The olive oil is used like a condiment. In Italian, the action is called "condire" and it means "to dress." This is a very common practice in Italian cooking (and other cuisines) and has long been used in the American way of cooking by many restaurants and now more and more by home cooks.

                                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                                        I understand why condiments appeal to some people, but I think coating something that's inherently flavorful with butter or olive oil is a lazy person's way to add flavor. It can be guilding the lily. Herbs and spices can be used to add flavor, too. You can make anything taste good if you throw enough butter or oil on it. I know chefs do it all the time, but it seems to me there are other ways that might actually let the flavor of the underlying food come through more distinctly. I don't put oil on salmon. I have made halibut poached in olive oil, and frankly, I didn't think the results were all that amazing. Poaching in an herb-scented broth works just as well for me.

                                                        1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                          How about butter with lobster or crab?

                                                          Not once have I ever thought to add butter to make something ho hum taste better.

                                                          1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                            "I understand why condiments appeal to some people, but I think coating something that's inherently flavorful with butter or olive oil is a lazy person's way to add flavor."

                                                            No one is "coating" anything. Finishing with olive oil is pretty much understood to be a drizzle. Thanks for calling me lazy; at least I am in good company with Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, hundreds of chefs all over Italy, and many , many more chef's worth their salt.

                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                              Speaking of worth their salt... I even add salt to my dishes, talk about lazy. Mind you, it's just a small amount and I don't dump a bunch on it (just to clarify since "finish" is being exaggerated, too).

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                Chowser, I have a whole set of finishing salts...
                                                                Fleur de sel
                                                                Himalayan Pink
                                                                Cyprus Flake
                                                                I even have a smoked salt (that I'm not that fond of actually)
                                                                I guess using salt to finish something I've made is a lazy cheat too?

                                                                1. re: cgarner

                                                                  I think that I have the same set of salts, cgarner, from Salt Works in square bottles with cork stoppers? I'm just crazy about the Cyprus flakes, although I don't use them to finish anything. I sprinkle a few flakes in my palm and eat them one by one! (Not often, but sometimes I get an intense sodium craving). These are by far my favorite salts from the set, and I keep them hidden in my kitchen. LOL.

                                                                  1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                    (shuuh)-love a secret hidden gem in my kitchen
                                                                    I hide things too-the letters usually start with choc

                                                                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                      Mrs. Patmore, I think that is the set. My mother gave them to me as a gift. I thought the smoke flavor of the smoked salt was more "burnt" and overpowering but the rest of the salts are wonderful (the Cyprus Flake is my favorite!)

                                                                    2. re: cgarner

                                                                      Exactly. A good cook judiciously uses enhancers. It doesn't mean dousing.

                                                                    3. re: chowser

                                                                      Salt is important in balancing flavors

                                                              2. re: letsindulge

                                                                So all you do is cook food plain, no seasoning, salt, pepper?

                                                                1. re: letsindulge

                                                                  Me too. When I put some Irish butter on a fresh blueberry muffin, it tastes like butter and berries and muffin. Delicious.

                                                              3. no, i finish my salmon with sesame oil.

                                                                1. Ive never heard of anyone finishing with oil but my guess would be presentation. The look of a glossy fillet looks great. Salmon is fatty where its fatty and lean where its lean. The fat doesn't ooze out and cover the lean part so the meat can have a dry appearance.

                                                                  1. Personally, I like to finish oily fishes such as salmon or mackerel with just a squeeze o' lemon, but a tarragon or caper butter or drizzle of herb-infused olive oil? I could see that.

                                                                    I am also guilty of enjoying salmon with a sweet & spicy glaze (maple syrup or brown sugar or hoisin, some oyster and/or soy sauce with a good kick of chili peppers), but then I generally can't afford wild caught salmon, which I would pretty much eat without any accoutrements.

                                                                    1. I coat salmon with a thin coating of olive oil before grilling. I don't finish it with oil, though. Before someone assumes something about "don't have a high quality underlying ingredient", all salmon I buy is wild caught and cooked that day, including the Copper River Sockeye I grilled a few days ago.

                                                                      Other fish I'll sometimes finish with butter or a light brushing of a butter-based sauce, such a Dover Sole or other delicate flatfish with butter, or a dill compound butter, etc.

                                                                      I don't often finish steaks with butter, but I have had some excellent steak-house ribeyes or porterhouses finished with butter.

                                                                      Much like many restaurants (e.g. many chains), some people use fat (and salt) to cover up poor ingredients or poor technique. Other, more skilled cooks, use fat (and salt) to enhance flavors, balance dishes, and create textures.

                                                                      1. I put quality EVOO over pasta before serving, adds tremendous flavor. Not sure I'd like it on salmon but, have done so on most white fish, especially if it's grilled.

                                                                        1. I finish just about everything with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

                                                                          48 Replies
                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                            Anyone can up the flavor of anything by adding enough olive oil or butter. I think it's a lazy person's way of adding flavor. I can appreciate the textural and mouthfeel contributions in some dishes, but indiscriminately adding olive oil or butter to everything is a cop out. Chefs who overuse butter and oil set bad examples for us home cooks.

                                                                            1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                                              Wow, so Eric Ripert, Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Marcella Hazan, et al, all have it wrong and are just being lazy?

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                The question is, are they using it "indiscriminately"? No one is saying not to use it. Just not to overuse it or use it as a crutch.

                                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                                  “If you're afraid of butter, use cream.”
                                                                                  ― Julia Child

                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                    Which has nothing to do with using either "indiscriminately". JC also railed against dipping bread in olive oil, IIRC.

                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                      The OP had nothing to do with "Indiscriminately," either. Just adding fat, period.

                                                                                      Butter makes a lousy crutch, at least in warm weather.

                                                                                  2. re: MelMM

                                                                                    You probably wouldn't like her tomato sauce that's nothing but tomatoes, onion and butter :)

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      Maybe it is just me, but tomato concasse and butter is sublime.

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        I think you are talking about Marcella Hazan's? I like it just fine. It is not a ton of butter, and is not used "indiscriminately". I'm not sure why some of you are having such a hard time with this. Just because I say fat=flavor is not always true, and just because I say more is not better, does not mean I am against the use of fat, or follow a low-fat diet, or any such thing. There are many different levels of fat use in a dish. There is such as thing as too much, and there is such a thing as too little. At least, to me.

                                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                                          What measurement or quantity is objectively "indiscriminate?" Is "crutch" status defined by frequency or quantity?

                                                                                          I'm not taunting, I'm serious. I guess I'm wondering how you define those terms and why you think they apply to anyone else?

                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                            Frankly, I do not know. But I think if you have the idea that more is always better, where fat goes (or, for that matter, sugar, salt, or any ingredient), you might be using it indiscriminately. Note that I have been using that word in quotes, because the word was used by LorenzoGA, and I am not sure what he/she meant by it, but I agree with the idea that there is a right way to use fat, and there is such a thing as too much - a point where the food becomes unpalatable.

                                                                                            To repeat for the umpteenth time, I am not opposed to fat at all. I just think there is such a thing as balance in food, and more is not always better. I have a long history of posting here, and I have never once, in any post, advocated a low fat, high fat, or any kind of diet for anyone. I have never been on any kind of a weight-loss diet, so I am definitely not coming at this from a health perspective. Just in terms of flavor - to me, there is a right amount of fat, and more is not always better.

                                                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                                                              "... I agree with the idea that there is a right way to use fat, and there is such a thing as too much..."

                                                                                              Okay, but everyone in this thread agrees that there has been no discussion that "more is always better,"only that *some* added fat often is. That begs the question I asked.

                                                                                              Where is the concern for excess coming from wrt this thread?

                                                                                          2. re: MelMM

                                                                                            I think you just helped define what you're talking about. Marcella's sauce has FIVE TABLESPOONS of butter in it!!! That's a lot in my book.

                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                              Five tablespoons for SIX SERVINGS! So less than one tablespoon per serving, which goes into a dish with pretty much no other fat. Not so much after all, is it?

                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                Edited due to bad math. Butter probably accounts for almost all the calories in the sauce. And it's a huge component of the dish, at more than half a stick of butter. So at what point does it become a "crutch" flavor wise?

                                                                                                This whole discussion is starting to remind me of the old timey debate over pornography vs art, as in "I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it."

                                                                                                We all see through different eyes. Or tastebuds, in this case.

                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                  Butter as % of calories does not matter at all to me, personally. Palatability does, but this is a sauce that is quite palatable!

                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                    Okay, so why all the worry about indiscriminate use and fat as a crutch by others?

                                                                                                    It seems to come down to this: if one finds it palatable, it's judicious use of added fat, but if others add more than one likes, it's not?

                                                                                                    Remember Senator Rosewater, who had no qualms about the difficulty of defining the difference between pornography and art? "The difference between pornography and art is bodily hair." ;-)

                                                                                                    There. Setlled!

                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                      "It seems to come down to this: if one finds it palatable, it's judicious use of added fat, but if others add more than one likes, it's not?"

                                                                                                      Yes. I'm not sure how else you can determine what the "right" amount of fat is, besides the extent to which it makes a dish taste better, and the the extent to which it seems like overkill. And sure, it will vary from person to person. My only point is, and has been, there is a point where it can be overkill.

                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                        And now I think about it, that might be the answer to the OP... some people like a lot more fat than others. Wherever the OP might be... I think we've scared him/her off.

                                                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                          "I think we've scared him/her off."

                                                                                                          LOL, maybe we should have welcomed him/her first before we started debating. No offense to anyone because I consider this a compliment but we CH can discuss the tiniest little details to death.

                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                            "we CH can discuss the tiniest little details to death"

                                                                                                            Now THAT is the truth!

                                                                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                              The irony is that we're all essentially saying the same thing--fat is good flavoring but you don't want to overdo. "Overdo" is the key, though, and we all have our own preferences which is what keeps it interesting. But it has nothing to do w/ laziness. Cooking french fries in duck fat has nothing to do w/ being lazy!

                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                Yeah, that lazy reference continues to stick in my craw.

                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                  Just for the record, I never used the word "lazy".

                                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                    I wasn't referring to you but upon rereading I don't see it.

                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                      I think this was it:

                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9783...

                                                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                    There is also the ignorance part of it, too, that people who do it don't know better or can't do better. I honestly have no horse in this race--I don't do it. But I can understand why some might want to and I appreciate the wisdom of some of those chefs. Of course, my not finishing is about being lazy to be honest...;-)

                                                                                                    2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                      Not much but far more than one would use to finish salmon w/ olive oil. I'd probably finish a large filet with a tablespoon.

                                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                  I've seen the recipe. No butter in marinara sauce for me, thanks. Olive oil, yes.

                                                                                                  1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                                                                    It's for tomato sauce not marinara.

                                                                                                3. re: MelMM

                                                                                                  Exactly, hence the word "finish" in the title.

                                                                                                4. re: chowser

                                                                                                  There is no "right and wrong" in the culinary world--anything goes, as tastes differ--but I dare say I think even Eric, Julia, Thomas and Marcella have, from time to time, used butter as a crutch. Especially Julia Child. It is so easy to make food taste good by adding loads of butter. My mother-in-law likes to say "You could put butter on cardboard and it would taste good." Her point was that we should step back before robotically adding butter or olive oil or salt or other such things that are often used as crutches and ask whether that is really what is needed under the circumstances. What I admire in a chef is the knowledge of how to use powerful weapons like butter with restraint, using them when it genuinely complements the specific dish. In my opinion, butter or olive oil doesn't do anything for salmon that it doesn't do for everything else.

                                                                                                  1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                                                                    "It is so easy to make food taste good by adding loads of butter. "

                                                                                                    I don't necessarily agree with that but if it were the case, then why would it be a problem? I want what tastes good, regardless. Pass me the Robuchon mashed potatoes. I don't care if it's because he's being lazy or using butter as a crutch as long as it tastes good.

                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                      I think my point is that too much butter, or butter applied to certain foods, can make the food taste like, well, butter, rather than enhancing the inherent flavor of the food itself. Heck, I use a whole stick of butter when I make mashed potatoes. And I could eat a whole loaf of bread with butter, were it not for my waistline and arteries. The question here was about salmon (and olive oil, not butter). I questioned the knee-jerk reaction of some who suggest using butter (or for that matter, "EVOO") on pretty much everything as a way to "improve" it.

                                                                                                      1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                                                                        I musta missed those posts. Could you link to the ones that suggest using butter on everything to improve it?

                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                          I never saw a single such post.

                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                            You never saw it because posts were getting deleted at lightning speed yesterday

                                                                                                          2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                            I'm sure they were deleted!

                                                                                                            1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                                                                              I must have missed them, too, but wonder why posts that advocate excess use of butter would be deleted when ones who call those who use fat lazy remain? I've seen many that say judicious use of fat is fine. As I've said, I don't add more fat to salmon or steak but don't think there's anything wrong with it. It doesn't show that the cook is lazy or ignorant, imo.

                                                                                                            2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                              I used butter to make an analogy, since the topic here was originally olive oil. My post was in reply to this: "I finish just about everything with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil." That's the post I was referring to. Drizzling olive oil on everything is just like adding butter to everything. Or, for that matter, salting everything.

                                                                                                              1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                                                                                The great chefs seem to employ both with zeal.

                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                  Agreed but sometimes wonder if they overdo it. A little goes along way IMHO.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                    Who's to say what is overdone for someone else?

                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                      <<Who's to say what is overdone for someone else?>>

                                                                                                                      Right you are! Paula Deen makes millions saying that overdone is underdone! Just add another stick of butter. LOL

                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                        As they say to each his own. I do not like anything drowning in oil but when it is used sparingly as an accent I quite enjoy it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                          How much fat or oil I like on a dish varies from very little to a lot. Depends on the food, and is not dependent on how much fat it already has.

                                                                                                                          The completed serving just all has to come together. I hate greasy food, but like fats. I rarely use it, but have enjoyed truffle butter on ribeye steak, frex, but hate a greasy braise, and skim the heck out of those.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                            I love Robuchon's mashed potatoes recipe(never had his, though, unfortunately) but blot the oil off my pizza.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                              Agreed on greasy braises. For me, the amount of fat I add to a dish depends in large part on the dish, but also how I'm feeling. If I've eaten salads, lean meats, etc. for the last few days, then an extra pat of butter on vegetables, or buttered bread, great. If I've done a 100 mile bike ride, then yes, extra bacon on that cheeseburger, thank you. If not, then I'm eating leaner.

                                                                                                                              It boils down to the dish, the meal, and the personal circumstances. I'm using butter and olive oil pretty liberally yet judiciously (meaning I often use butter and OO, just not a ton), guests seem to enjoy my meals, and I'm still a 21 BMI. Balance is everything.

                                                                                                    2. I see lots of hate on people finishing salmon with EVOO.

                                                                                                      I get it. I don't typically do it myself.

                                                                                                      But the general thought that "salmon does not need a finishing oil" is a rule begging for an exception.

                                                                                                      The exception in this instance?

                                                                                                      If I have a nice bright crimson piece of Coho that's less fatty than it's Chinook/King counterpart and it's seared à l’unilatéral, then yes, a gentle drizzle of quality EVOO with a deft hand is a mighty fine way to "finish" this fish.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                        Smoked salmon and cream cheese, anyone? ;-)

                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                          Why would anybody even consider finishing smoked salmon with spoiled milk?

                                                                                                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                            Spoiled milk????? Explain please.

                                                                                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                              LOL

                                                                                                        2. Some could turn your question completely on its head.

                                                                                                          How about this?

                                                                                                          I've never understood the logic of cooking a high quality piece of fish, treating it as though it were a steak and searing it. I've been frequently serving salmon raw sliced thin with a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh herbs and maybe just a drizzle of good olive oil and I know some people who actually cook fresh salmon before serving. What's the point of cooking it?

                                                                                                          Just because you don't do it or like it doesn't mean others are supposed to think like you. Different tastes.

                                                                                                          1. ...........indianriv, agree

                                                                                                            1. Some chefs simmer the fish in oil. Laura Calder has a recipe for poached halibut in olive oil and there are numerous recipes for this cooking method, especially for firm fleshed fish. I cook with a drizzle of olive oil because I bake it and do not want it to dry out. The baking is done because I do not like the odor of fried or poached fish in my house..

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                I've poached halibut in olive oil, and I wasn't especially impressed with the results. It came out fine, and it wasn't very oily. But I just don't see the point in cooking an oily fish like salmon and then coating it with oil. I wouldn't finish a piece of cooked salmon with oil.

                                                                                                                1. re: LorenzoGA

                                                                                                                  A drizzle and a coating are not one and the same!

                                                                                                              2. I prefer a Ladolemono drizzle over my salmon

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                  Nice!

                                                                                                                  1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                    Isn't It? Salmon just Begs for a lemon and salt... and olive oil... Emulsion

                                                                                                                2. One of the great things about salmon is that it is delicious without adding those other delicious things, butter and olive oil. There are a lot of no-added-fat ways to prepare salmon (try a mango centered raw, chopped fat-free salsa for a great look and flavor).

                                                                                                                  Butter and olive oil are wonderful, but but most of us find that if you eat them with every meal you end up with an unenviable butter-ball waistline.

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                                                    Unless you totally pig out, it's not from the fat, from what it's ;sa passenger on. Fat is the only macronutrient that does not stimulate fat storage hormone.

                                                                                                                    Carbs are the food associated with excess visceral adiposity.

                                                                                                                    1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                                                      Butter and olive oil in moderation will not cause weight gain. Adding a teaspoon of olive oil or butter to vegetables or salmon won't make any difference in weight gain.

                                                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                        Thank you for that, foreverhungry. You said it nicely without all the expletives and "duhs" I would have used. :)

                                                                                                                    2. To me, the point is to have a satisfactory amount of fat in the dish, for both flavor and mouth feel and satiety. What one considers "already fatty" will widely vary.

                                                                                                                      For burgers, some will be happy with 93% lean. Some say 80-20 is the ideal ratio. I like it closer to 70-30. The lean burger folks would wonder why I'm now adding cheese to my fatty patty AND buttering my buns to toast them AND dressing the lettuce with mayo.

                                                                                                                      Unless it's the belly, I never considered salmon to be particularly fatty, so although I don't typically add olive oil on my salmon, I don't think it's really odd.

                                                                                                                      1. We've removed a number of off topic posts that had strayed from talking about salmon and onto discussion of Chowhound itself. Sorry everybody.

                                                                                                                        1. I guess I'm in the middle on this one. I cook my salmon skin side down in a Tbsp. of olive oil on low heat to crisp the skin. Yes, I do eat the skin. While cooking I baste the top and flip the last couple of minutes to finish. Then I top with a small amount of pan juice to finish. I purchased a nice fillet of our local Monterey Bay king salmon this morning. @ $23.98 a pound it's expensive but worth it.

                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                            I don't eat the salmon skin out of convention but have wondered why recently. I like fish skin, especially crispy.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                              I love it crispy if well seasoned, too. Like chicken skin, which I love love love seasoned and baked at high temp.

                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                made my husband 'chicken bones' for dinner last night, he got home late and seemed a bit crabby, so I asked 'are you ready for dinner now honey'....he said 'no'. I just looked at him and the biggest smile on his face, he said, 'you know I can't say no to chicken bones'he is crazy for the way the skin comes out, could crack your teeth.

                                                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                  What is this 'chicken bones' dish, il Divo?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                                    you know what seamunky, it's stupid easy.
                                                                                                                                    embarrassed to say but here goes............nothing major..
                                                                                                                                    the name comes from our 'grands' as they ate them the first time/named them/and now only want 'that' for dinner :;-/ our son says, "thanks mom for starting this, it's all they ever ask for..............." (insert annoyed face)
                                                                                                                                    they have to be drumsticks although I prefer thighs, next breasts. hubby and the baby's only want to see drummers.
                                                                                                                                    hot oven, 400* (at least)~(if we're home I do it in the convection) drums on cake cooling rack drizzled with olive oil, salt/pepper, rubbed down good, baked until the skin cracks your teeth but the meat is so tender/juicy. I check a few times with instant read thermometer.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                      Sounds great with the teeth-cracking skin! Thanks for sharing il Divo. Like you, I also prefer thighs but kids sure love drumsticks don't they? For April Fools, I'd love to trim some broccoli into drumstick shape and chicken fry it. I can imagine the faces! <evil grin>

                                                                                                                                      1. re: seamunky

                                                                                                                                        I think the kiddlebugs like drummers because they come with built in handles

                                                                                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                Some fish skin tastes good, some not. Depends upon the fish. Salmon skin is good, as is red snapper. Grouper skin, on the other hand, is not so good, even though the fish itself is delicious.

                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                  Crispy fish skin is da shiz.

                                                                                                                              3. After reading all these responses, I think the best advice would be to skip the salmon and eat butter and olive oil sauce... it must taste better

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: harryharry

                                                                                                                                  Now you're talking. Or even better, fry up some salmon skin in the fat. Better than potato chips?

                                                                                                                                2. ew no. I can't stand it on steak either.

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                    I don't mind olive oil on salmon but generally I put it on before cooking. I'm with you on the butter on steak, though--I don't care for it. I've never had it basted, though, and that might be completely different from adding a dollop on top after.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                      I'm fine with butter on steak, but not olive oil.

                                                                                                                                  2. I never heard of putting olive oil on salmon and I've been cooking longer than most of you are old, and professionally for more than 30 years.

                                                                                                                                    Salmon is a very fatty fish, and highly flavorful on its own. Accompanying the salmon with a sauce is one thing, but straight up olive oil -- I have to ask why.

                                                                                                                                    20 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                      And another way of looking at the question, is even if you are going to add a fat to the salmon, why olive oil? Salmon is a cold water fish. Doesn't really come from the waters around where olive oil is produced. So perhaps not a natural match?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                        Mel, yep

                                                                                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                          I would add salt to a fresh water fish. I think foods from different regions and locales can and should be mixed. If I buy Alaskan salmon, I'd be pretty limited in meal planning if I only added what's found nearby.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                            Is it the collective opinion that a fresh water fish's flesh will taste less salty than that of a salt water fish?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                              I eat a lot of salt water fish and have never found the flesh salty compared to fresh water fish

                                                                                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                Yeah, me neither. I did find an interesting article about salt water creatures.being either osmoregulators or osmoconformers, but it was too technical and I got bored.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                  Almost all marine vertebrates - fish and mammals - are osmoregulators - they expend energy to maintain tissue osmolarity lower than the surrounding environment. The only vertebrate osmoconformers are the elasmobranchs - cartilaginous fishes such as sharks and rays, though they do it by maintaining high urea concentrations. Marine invertebrates such as sea slugs, squids, etc. have body tissues and fluids that are isoosmotic to the surrounding environment, so are osmoconformers.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                No, I was thinking that sticking w/ what is found in the environs of the product is limiting, eg salmon isn't found where olive oil is produced so they don't belong together.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                  Salt is found all over the earth, not just in the sea.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                                                                  Fish is often dipped in clean, salted water on the boats before shipping. Consumers like salt. No one requires disclosure of this added salt.

                                                                                                                                                3. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                  I also don't buy into that idea of only things from the same locale should be used. Way to limiting

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                    And needlessly so.

                                                                                                                                              3. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                walnut or hazelnut oil would be lovely, though!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                  Depends what kind of salmon it is. I cook a lot of sockeye that I catch myself and it is very lean. Like I said above I think the oil as a finish is for presentation. Even when you are cooking a very fatty salmon like white spring I still coat lightly with oil before cooking as the lean part of the salmon is very lean and the fat dosnt rise up and baste meat but goes down.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                    Again, while salmon is "a fatty fish", it's fat content is similar to chicken. Salmon is "fatty" relative to other fish, who, as ectotherms, tend to be low in fat. Salmon's fat content is comparable to hat most folks consider low fat "meats" - chicken, turkey, rabbit. Don't professional chefs add olive oil to chicken?

                                                                                                                                                    MeIMM - why not olive oil? Just because salmon is a cold water fish doesn't mean it can't benefit, used judiciously and wisely, with olive oil, or anything else for that matter.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                      Not sure what salmon you're eating but compared to chicken breast it's "fatty." Less so than thighs but still more fat.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                        Check the data.

                                                                                                                                                        Salmon: 22g total fat, 4g saturated, 112mg cholesterol.

                                                                                                                                                        Chicken thighs: 15g total fat, 4g saturated, 133mg cholesterol.

                                                                                                                                                        Pork loin: 19g total fat, 6g saturated, 290mg cholesterol.

                                                                                                                                                        Total fat for salmon (Atlantic farmed, yes, YMMV depending on what kind of salmon) is a bit higher, but in the general ballpark.

                                                                                                                                                        Salmon has a reputation as a "fatty" fish, but only in comparison to other fish. Pork loin is considered a lean meat, and it's total fat content is very similar to salmon, but no one would say that pork loin is a fatty meat.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                          Salmon varies greatly. Farmed salmon is quite fatty compared to (expensive) wild-caught salmon. And the lion's share of salmon sold is farmed salmon.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                                                        I don't mean a whole lot by it, just playing devil's advocate, and pointing out they are not things which are naturally found in the same region. IF one were trying to eat locally/regionally, or IF one followed the philosophy that what grows together goes together, olive oil would probably not be one's choice for salmon. Salmon requires cold water, so it tends not to be found in the olive-oil producing areas of the world. Butter, on the other hand... I think Norway does quite well in that department.

                                                                                                                                                      3. re: ChefJune

                                                                                                                                                        For the same reason you'd add a sauce?

                                                                                                                                                      4. i hear you. i hate butter on my steak. and am always pissed at myself when i forget to tell the waiter at a steakhouse not to do so.

                                                                                                                                                        i never finish salmon with OO, but do marinate in OO with garlic and herbs.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Chunk of salmon in oven. Onto plate. Eat.
                                                                                                                                                          On a separate plate, a baked potato.

                                                                                                                                                          Creamy dill dollop of deliciousness?
                                                                                                                                                          Not on this frozen piece of farmed pigs blood meal salmon!

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                            Mmmmmpigs blood meal salmon. My favorite kind.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                              Sounds like quite the Chowhound meal. Oh, if it's pig blood meal raised then bacon would be the obvious accessory.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Sure, you can add too much fat to something. Personally, I think that Kobe-style beef hamburgers have to much fat in them. It detracts from the beef flavor.

                                                                                                                                                              On the other hand, fat is a delivery system for flavor. It is what the fat carries along with it that is key. A nice, lemony hollandaise carries lemon flavor with it. A Bernaise sauce carries garlic, tarragon (anise), lemon (or vinegar) and chervil (anise) flavors with it. So it depends on what you want. Each of these flavors diminishes the basic taste of the meat, but it adds something, too.

                                                                                                                                                              Personally, I would go for the Bernaise sauce on either a steak or the salmon. I would probably forego the olive oil on the salmon. It is sort of bringing coals to New Castle.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Corn oil. Refrigerated corn oil. Olive oil is too expensive to use for anything. Cold corn oil is the best for salmon. It's a cold water fish and needs a cold corn oil. Or nothing at all. Not even salt.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                                                                                                                  F'n hilarious!

                                                                                                                                                                2. I don't really understand the olive oil myslef. But then again I'm not a big fan of the taste of olive oil. If you want to put something on top of the salmon for flavor try this maple mustard glaze. Its so good! One of my favorite sauces. I put it on everything, not only my grilled salmon.

                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.chow.com/recipes/29867-map...

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: FoodFan83

                                                                                                                                                                    sounds&looks good&easy