Monday, October 8, 2012

Perfect Pan Fried Salmon

I hate fish.  I hate fishing.  I hate cleaning fish.  I hate cooking fish.  I hate eating fish*.

There, I said it.  Pretty sure it is the only time my cooking ever disappointed Meme was on the topic of fish.  Also pretty much got to the point that Meme and the rest of the family was happy when I was out of town because they could then have fish.

Yet I still prepared fish, occasionally  because it is what my family wants, and that is food made of love - food made for others because of the love you have for them.  But I did it grudgingly - is that really food made of love?

Yet I still tried, at least occasionally.

So at Festival Food they had a big Atlantic Salmon sale.  Lots of fresh salmon (it actually did not smell like fish, so it might actually be reasonable fresh, or recently thawed at least).  So even though I hate salmon particularly, I bought it and made it.  I hate salmon so much I made myself something else to eat.

But I discovered something.  I liked this salmon.  I mean I really liked it.  It was great.  So what was the difference?

First off, I learned to what degree or temp to cook it to.  Basically, salmon should be cooked rare - yes, that's right, cook it rare - about 110 degrees in the center, 150 degrees at the edge.  Start with a medium high pan, turn it down to medium after you put the fish in.  Which leads to ...

Second, how to cook it - skin side down till it is about 110 in the center, then flip over and cook just to brown it slightly.  In fact you can turn the heat off when you flip the fish.  Basically you are cooking it through on one side, then just setting the fish on the other side. Use an instant temp thermometer.

Third, seasoning.  Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Sure you can do it a whole bunch of ways, but if you have good fish, that is all you need.  You don't even need lemon

Oh - and this way the skin gets crisp.  And tastes good

For all the gory details, go to The Food Lab.  However, this is the short version.

So the basic details are most salmon you get is horribly overcooked - and thus disgusting.  So a lot of places will highly season it - butter or soy sauce or other glop to cover the fact you screwed up the fish by cooking it well done.

Don't screw it up.

*I did not like eating fish outside of deep fried battered covered.  With tarter sauce on top and coleslaw and fries on the side.   Of course one could argue that is barely fish, but whatever.

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