It’s up there as the one of the most popular types of fish, but many people still find cooking salmon overwhelming. We sat down with Chef Mark Jensen to take some of the mystery away.
As one of the co-founders of popular Sydney restaurant, Salmon and Bear (be sure to check it out if you visit Sydney!), Mark knows a few things about cooking good fish. Just one taste of his seafood will leave you converted, dying to recreate the same dishes at home.
But many people still struggle to achieve that ‘perfect’ piece of fish, complete with a crispy skin and a juicy, wonderfully oily centre. Luckily, once you’ve got these simple tips down-pat, you’ll be on your way to creating restaurant-quality seafood.
KNOW YOUR CUTS
Whether you’re pan-frying, whipping out the barbie, or putting some time aside for a slow-bake, it’s important to know which cuts to use to for each method.
If you’re using the stove-top to pan-fry your salmon, go for tail pieces taken from the back end of the fillet. Save your cutlets for barbecuing and char-grilling.
And for the oven? Mark recommends using a piece of fillet taken from close to the shoulder. If you need help sourcing these cuts of salmon, your local fishmonger will be able to point you in the right direction.
Get the Sesame-Glazed Salmon recipe shown in picture above.
LET’S GET SAUCY
When it comes to marinating your fish, everyone has their own flavour preferences, whether it be a simple salt and pepper seasoning or a zesty sesame glaze.
Luckily, Mark says it’s pretty hard to go wrong. “Salmon fillet is very versatile. It works equally as well with strong Asian flavours as it does milder European herb-based sauces.”
When grilling salmon cutlets or steaks, you can get even more experimental. “Have fun and hit it hard with flavour,” says Mark. “Ramp up the flavour profile because the cooking time of a salmon steak over the barbecue is short.”
And for something more substantial like a whole side of salmon, play it safe. “I’d stay with the European classics,” says Mark. “Dill, tarragon and lemon thyme.”
Get the Teriyaki Salmon Stir-Fry recipe shown in picture above.
HOW LONG TO COOK?
Just like a good piece of steak, most people know how they like their salmon cooked. And while it tastes delicious with everything from a quick-sear to something a little more well-done, Mark reccomends trying it medium-rare.
To achieve this you’ll want to cook your fish skin-side down over a medium-heat stove for around 4-5 minutes. Then, give it a flip and cook for another 3 minutes.
Get the Salmon & Vegetable Parcels recipe shown in picture above.
HOW ABOUT THAT CRISPY SKIN?
When cutting into your salmon fillet, there’s nothing better than that ‘crunch’ that comes from a piece of well-cooked salmon.
But how do we achieve it? “Salt the skin of the salmon and set aside,” says Mark. “Place a pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot add a tablespoon of olive oil.”
“Place the salmon skin side down into the pan. Press down on the fillet with a fish slice. Cook the skin until crisp, turn then continue cooking until the fish is done.”
Get the Glazed Fish With Local Greens recipe shown in picture above.
ALL THE EXTRAS
When it comes to the side dishes that’ll accompany your salmon, it’s a matter of personal preference, with most foods pairing perfectly with this beautiful fish.
If you’re looking to play it safe, stick with traditional European flavours. “Three fool-proof sides to serve with salmon are potato puree, braised leeks and char-grilled asparagus,” says Mark. Or try serving it in other ways like in a burger or stew.
Get the Salmon Burger recipe shown in picture above.
Text: The Australian Women’s Weekly / Additional Reporting: Sean Tan