Salmon can be seasoned in a variety of ways, ranging from savory herbs to sweet marinades. Learn how to properly season salmon for various salmon recipes.
Why Should Salmon Be Seasoned?
Salmon is a firm, flaky fish with a mild flavor that blends well with other flavors. Seasoning salmon with spices, herbs, and marinades can improve the flavor and help the fish retain moisture and firmness while cooking. Brining salmon with seasonings helps to preserve its pink color by preventing the release of albumin, a white semi-solid protein that can form as the fish cooks.
To make savory, tangy, or sweet salmon recipes, experiment with different flavor combinations. Parsley, tarragon, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and miso sauce are popular flavors for all types of salmon.
The Best Seasoning for Salmon
The best seasoning for salmon is determined by the method of preparation. Consider the following seasoning possibilities:
Herbs: Before pan-frying or baking salmon, coat it with fresh or dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, or dill. Dry rubs and premade mixes, such as Italian seasoning, can also be used.
Glazes: A glaze is a sauce that can be applied to the salmon while it is cooking, such as a brown sugar glaze, a lemon glaze, a garlic and honey glaze, or a mustard glaze.
Marinades: To infuse flavor into salmon, soak it in a marinade before cooking. Soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, and pesto are popular flavoring ingredients for salmon marinades.
Sauces: Dressings can be used after the salmon has been cooked to add texture and flavor. Salmon can be served with barbecue, hollandaise, or beurre blanc sauces.
Spices: Dried spices like onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin can enhance the flavor of salmon. Smoked or sweet paprika can be used to add smokiness to the salmon. Chili powder, cayenne pepper, jerk seasoning, Cajun seasoning, or Chinese five-spice powder can be used to add heat. Create your own flavors and store them in an airtight container.
How to Season Salmon: 5 Seasoning Tips
Consider the following seasoning tips whether you're marinating, glazing, or simply seasoning your fish with salt and pepper:
1. Add salt just before cooking the salmon. It is critical to salt salmon immediately before cooking it. If you salt the fish too soon, it will lose too much moisture.
2. Brush the salmon with butter or olive oil. Brush the flesh side of the salmon with melted butter or olive oil, then season with herbs and spices. The fat will help the seasoning adhere to the salmon and keep it from sticking to the pan.
3. Cut the salmon skin. Season the salmon on both sides. To enhance the flavor of the salmon, pierce the skin and rub seasoning inside before applying a dry rub or spice mixture.
4. Select a marinade that is oil-based. If the marinade contains too much water, crisping the salmon skin can be difficult. To keep the salmon tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, marinate it in an oil-based marinade.
5. Keep the marinating time to a minimum. Marinate the salmon for up to 30 minutes if using a vinegar or citrus marinade. The acid can cause the salmon to degrade, resulting in mushy fish.
6. Measure the seasonings. In general, one tablespoon of seasoning per half pound of salmon is recommended. In a small mixing bowl, evenly distribute the seasonings.
8 Salmon Recipes
Salmon is a quick and easy weeknight meal. Serve the fish with rice or vegetables, such as roasted brussels sprouts or sautéed green beans. Consider the following simple recipes, each with a different seasoning combination:
1. Baked salmon: Season the salmon with lemon slices and fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, chives, or thyme in this simple baked salmon recipe.
2. Lemon salmon: In this simple baked lemon salmon recipe, the salmon is cooked on a sheet pan or baking sheet using the broil setting in the oven. Combine room-temperature butter, parsley, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice to make the lemon garlic butter.
3. Maple salmon: Salmon filets are coated in a thick, flavorful glaze made of pure maple syrup and savory pantry staples before being roasted in this sweet-and-savory dish. Maple salmon is seasoned with maple syrup, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, grated garlic, ginger, white pepper, and red pepper flakes.
4. Miso salmon: To make miso salmon, marinate salmon in saikyo miso (sweet white miso from Kyoto), mirin, sugar, and sake.
5. Pan-seared salmon: The only seasonings required for this simple pan-seared salmon recipe are salt and pepper, which takes about five minutes to prepare and about fifteen minutes to cook from start to finish.
6. Pesto salmon: To make pesto salmon, coat salmon in fresh basil pesto and bake until just cooked through. The basil pesto flavors the salmon while also keeping it moist while baking.
7. Salmon tacos: Make salmon tacos for a Mexican-inspired twist on salmon. Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and black pepper to taste.
8. Teriyaki salmon: Make teriyaki salmon with store-bought or homemade teriyaki sauce, a savory Japanese main course consisting of grilled or roasted salmon filets glazed in teriyaki sauce. Soy sauce, sugar, mirin, sake, sesame oil, cornstarch, ginger, and minced garlic are all used in this recipe.
5 Tips for Cooking Salmon
It is simple to learn how to cook salmon. Salmon can be cooked in a variety of ways, including pan-frying, baking, and en papillote (inside folded parchment paper or aluminum foil). Consider the following tips when preparing salmon:
1. Select the appropriate cut of salmon. Salmon is typically sold in the form of fillets, steaks, or whole fish. A salmon fillet is a small, meaty section of the salmon's side with few bones. A salmon steak is a larger-boned cross-section of the salmon.
2. Determine your seasonings with care. Salmon requires little seasoning to be flavorful. You can season it simply with salt and black pepper, or with lemon juice, fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, butter, minced garlic, and whatever other flavors you want.
3. Dry the salmon to ensure crispy skin. Although skinless salmon is available, salmon skin can be delicious when cooked properly. Crispy salmon skin is simple to achieve. While your pan heats up, thoroughly dry the skin-on salmon with paper towels. Then, sear the salmon skin-side down in a pan, such as a cast-iron skillet or a nonstick pan, over high heat. To get crispy skin on the salmon, broil it in the broiler or bake it in the oven with the skin side up.
4. Ensure your salmon cooks thoroughly. Salmon has a short cooking time and can be eaten when it's slightly rare in the middle, though the USDA recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to follow the USDA's recommendations, invest in a good instant-read thermometer. Otherwise, test for doneness by gently poking the top of the flesh with your finger; it should easily flake apart. Alternatively, insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of the fillet to check the color: light pink, opaque salmon is well-cooked, whereas darker pink, more translucent salmon is still somewhat rare. Insert a metal cake tester or thin skewer into the thickest part of the fillet to avoid damaging the flesh, then touch the side of the tester to the area between your lower lip and chin. If the fish feels warm to the touch, it is fully cooked. If it's cold, it's unusual in the middle of the day.
5. Know the source of the fish. Wild salmon is not the same as farm salmon. The color of fresh salmon from the ocean is darker, whereas farm salmon is lighter. Farm salmon is typically fatter than fresh salmon and less expensive.