What to do with your whole fish
If you receive whole fresh fish not frozen, you have a lot of options. You can fillet your fish, cut it into steaks, cook it whole, can it, and/ or freeze it. If you receive whole frozen fish, you can thaw and cook a whole fish or, you can use a saw to cut it into steaks which can be kept in the freezer and thawed as needed. Many butchers will cut your frozen fish at the end of the day before they dispose of the blade since a blade used to cut fish can't be used for anything else. Here are some useful tips for cooking your fish!
If you are new to cooking salmon, here are some excellent preparation tips and Great recipes from the BC Salmon Marketing Council.
Sockeye salmon keeps best and longest in the freezer. A properly frozen piece of sockeye will be as good in Janaury as it was in September. Not so for the other species. Chum freezes nearly as well and pinks are the least freezer friendly. So, remember, if you have all species in your freezer stored for the winter, use your pinks first, your chum second, and your sockeye last. Also, if vaccuum-packed fish looses its seal, eat it within a month. It will dry out quickly with a broken seal.
The most important thing about cooking salmon is NOT TO OVERCOOK IT! Remember, salmon can be eaten raw. Even the highest quality salmon is dry when overcooked. A general rule of thumb is 10 minutes cooking time per inch of thickness to an internal temperature of 125F. Remove your salmon from the heat when the centre still looks raw. Heat contained in the meat will continue to cook it so be conservative. You can always return it to the heat but you can't fix an overcooked piece of fish!
What temperature is best?
Don't cook salmon at too high a temperature. An oven temperature of 325F seems to work best for baking salmon.
The only way to be sure salmon is "done" is to use a professional probe thermometre. Consider investing in one for all your cooking! The recommended internal doneness temperature of salmon is 140F. (Note that our flash frozen salmon is all sashimi grade which means it is perfectly safe to eat raw.)
Have you ever noticed a creamy white substance coming out of your salmon when it is cooked? It is a protein called albumin which coagulates and is pressed out of the muscle tissues when salmon is cooked at too high a temperature. Seeing this stuff on the outside of your fish means that it has lost some moisture. So remember to keep the heat down!
A few good techniques
1. When salmon is fresh and in season, it doesn't need much! Finely chopped fresh herbs combined with garlic, olive oil, and butter makes an excellent dressing. Spread on fillets or steaks or inside the cavity of a whole fish. Then oven bake or barbecue at low temperature (325F) for about 10 min/ inch of thickness.
2. Sear and bake. One way to achieve an excellent browned exterior without overdrying your fish or cooking it at too high a temperature is to sear it first in a hot oven-proof skillet. Heat a little oil in a cast-iron pan. Sear the skin-side of fillets first for a couple of minutes, then flip and sear the other side for a minute before placing the skillet in a pre-heated 300F oven. Bake an additional 7-10 min.
3. When salmon has been in the freezer for a while, is a bit dry, and needs a bit of a boost, dry this recipe:
Jack Daniels Salmon
equal parts (approx 1/2 cup) olive oil and rye whiskey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1tsp worchestershire sauce
3-4 cloves crushed garlic
pepper to taste
Marinade fish for 4 hours or more before cooking. Be careful with open flame -- the whiskey will ignite!