How to Cook Frozen Salmon

There's no need to wait for your favorite healthy seafood protein to thaw.

wild salmon romanesco pilaf
Photo: Con Poulos

Learning how to cook frozen salmon is one way to make getting a healthy and delicious meal—like this Wild Salmon with Romanesco Pilaf—on the table faster and easier than ever before. It's a handy technique to know, and since you can keep frozen salmon in your freezer all year long, a protein-packed meal is always 15 minutes away. It's a common misconception that seafood needs to be thawed before cooking. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute asserts, and many cooks know, that you can achieve the same great flavor and texture by cooking salmon from frozen.

Why Buy Frozen Salmon?

Stock your freezer with frozen salmon fillets and you will always have a healthy, quick, and flavorful dinner on hand. Freshness is important when it comes to any seafood. Unless you're lucky enough to have a fresh catch off the boat or a great seafood store that gets shipments daily, buying frozen fish is the answer to easy access to better quality seafood. Look for frozen salmon that has been rapidly chilled right after it is caught, as this locks the fish in at its peak freshness and it's often done right on the boat. Many seafood stores and fish departments sell previously frozen fish, so it's better to just go straight from the freezer. Did you know sashimi- and sushi-grade salmon is frozen before serving? Now you can rest assured that even the best chefs embrace frozen salmon.

How to Cook Salmon from Frozen

One of the key steps to cooking frozen salmon is to wash the ice glaze off the fish before cooking it. Frozen salmon should come in cryovac packaging, so you'll want to remove the fish from the package and rinse it under cool water; pat the it dry before cooking in order to remove any excess moisture. "Cooking frozen salmon comes down to timing and method, and if you follow the right recipe, you will have a perfect piece of fish every time. The techniques are the same as cooking fresh salmon; baking, broiling, poaching, searing the fish in a pan, it's really just a slight adjustment to timing," says Alaskan chef Erik Slater, the author of the Frozen to Fork cookbook.

How to Tell When Frozen Salmon Is Cooked

Insert a paring knife between the layers of flesh to check for doneness; the flesh should turn opaque when done. Perfectly cooked salmon also separates into big flakes. Another tip from Slater, "Don't worry too much about cooking frozen salmon 100 percent through. High quality salmon is delicious medium-rare and many chefs and diners prefer it that way." Leave a little bright pink in the center for medium-rare.

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