This is the third in a series of basic recipes anyone can easily make. They have existed for centuries because 1) they are simple, and 2) they taste good. Once you master their preparation, you’re free to improvise…or not.
A popular restaurant menu item, fresh salmon is very easy to cook at home. You can grill it, roast it, poach it or pan-fry it. You can serve it whole or as fillets, steaks or kebabs. You can make it into a soup or an appetizer spread the British call Potted Salmon. If any salmon is left over, you can turn it into Salmon Cakes or add it to Risotto or a salad. If you’re adventurous, you can even make your own smoked salmon.
Served hot or cold, salmon is hard to ruin. And if you overcook it, you can disguise any dryness with Garlic Mayonnaise.
If I’m serving salmon to a crowd, I buy the largest fillet available (usually half of one salmon split down the middle with the bones removed) or several smaller fillets, adding up to 2 -2 1/2 pounds. Then I put it on a heavy-duty cooking sheet, skin side down, cover it with slices of lemon and roast it in a 425-degree oven for about 10-12 minutes until it falls into flakes when I poke it with a fork.
If I’m serving salmon for just a few people, I pan-fry it. It’s simple, quick and effective. I can’t ask for more than that.
Pan-Fried Salmon – serves 4
1 large salmon fillet or several smaller fillets (at least 1 1/2 pounds) or 4 salmon steaks of equal size and thickness
1-2 tablespoons bottled 30-minute marinade
1 teaspoon canola oil
Rinse the salmon and remove any bones (salmon steaks will have bones). If you’re working with a large fillet, cut it into 4 pieces. Set the salmon on a large dish or tray, skin side down they’re fillets. Spread the marinade over the top only of the fillets or over both sides of the steaks. Let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
Put the oil in a large frying pan and begin heating over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the steaks or fillets, skin side up. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the salmon seems cooked halfway through. To make sure it isn’t burning, check underneath by carefully lifting up a corner of one piece with a metal spatula. If the salmon is beginning to blacken, turn down the heat to medium.
Turn the salmon over carefully and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until it flakes when poked by a fork. When removing fillets from the pan, slide the metal spatula between the bottom of the fish and the skin, leaving the skin in the pan. Serve immediately, either on a platter or individual plates
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