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You Are the Chef: Mastering the Art of Cooking Salmon

Welcome back to “You Are the Chef,” where we give you the tools, tips, and techniques to elevate your culinary skills. Today, we’re diving into the world of seafood, focusing on a staple that’s as healthy as it is delicious—salmon. Cooking salmon may seem intimidating, but with the right knowledge, you can serve up a restaurant-quality dish right from your kitchen. So, let’s get started!

Fresh raw salmon fish steaks on black background with ingredients for cooking. Closeup. Top view

The Basics: Types of Salmon

Before we jump into the cooking process, let’s talk about the types of salmon you might encounter:

  • Wild Salmon: Often considered superior in flavor and texture but can be pricier.
  • Farmed Salmon: Generally more affordable and available year-round, but may contain more fat.

Choose according to your preference and budget.

Essential Tools

  • A non-stick or cast-iron skillet or baking sheet
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Cooking oil (olive oil or avocado oil are good choices)
  • Spatula


  • Salmon fillet(s)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional: herbs like dill, rosemary, or thyme
  • Optional: lemon slices

Methods of Cooking Salmon

You can cook salmon in various ways—pan-searing, grilling, or oven-baking. Here are quick guides for each:


  1. Preparation: Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Optional: sprinkle your choice of herbs.
  2. Preheat the Pan: Add a small amount of oil to your skillet and heat over medium-high.
  3. Sear: Place the salmon fillet skin-side down. Cook for about 4-6 minutes until the skin is crispy. Flip and cook for another 2-4 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.


  1. Preparation: Preheat your oven to 450°F. Season the salmon as above and place it skin-side down on a baking sheet.
  2. Bake: Place the salmon in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.


  1. Preparation: Season the salmon as you would for pan-searing.
  2. Preheat the Grill: Make sure your grill is hot before placing your salmon on it.
  3. Grill: Place the salmon skin-side down on the grill. Cook for about 6-8 minutes per side, depending on thickness, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.

Pro Tips

  • Don’t Overcook: Salmon can dry out quickly, so always check the internal temperature.
  • Skin On or Off: Cooking with the skin on helps to keep the salmon moist.
  • Rest: Allow the salmon to rest for a few minutes after cooking for juicier results.


Congratulations, you are now equipped to cook salmon like a pro! Whether you’re pan-searing, oven-baking, or grilling, these methods will help you achieve a perfectly cooked salmon every time. Incorporate this versatile fish into your meal planning and enjoy the myriad of health benefits it offers. Happy cooking and see you in the next installment of “You Are the Chef”!

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