This technique might become your new go-to method for preparing the healthy protein.

By Laura Rege
November 16, 2020
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Our recipe archive is filled with irresistible salmon recipes, but if you are a fan of this pink fleshed, omega-3 packed fish, there's a new a technique you have to try. Even now that the Instant Pot craze has subdued, we are still using it to reinvent our favorite dinners. In this quest, we found that salmon is surprisingly delicious when cooked in the Instant Pot or multicooker. Plus, Instant Pot salmon is quick, easy to clean up, and the texture is super tender, as if the fish was slow roasted in the oven. Read on for our tips and a recipe with ideas and variations—this is a dinner you will never get bored of. Then, try cooking salmon in the Instant Pot and put your own creative spin on it.

Why Use the Instant Pot?

For salmon, the real strength of the Instant Pot lies in the texture. The cooked fish is super tender, similar to slow roasting the fish in the oven or poaching it in oil. Another bonus? The fish doesn't release the white albumen that you normally get from baking it, so it looks pretty, too.

Is It Faster?

The bottom line is that salmon cooks pretty fast, no matter the method you choose. The Instant Pot isn't going to save you much time, but the meal will still be ready in less than 20 minutes. Sure, five minutes at pressure sounds fast, but remember that it takes a few to bring the pot up to pressure.

What Size Fillet Should I Buy? 

Start with a one-pound center cut piece of salmon, which fits perfectly in the standard Instant Pot. Look for a fillet that's about one-inch thick in the center of the fillet with the skin on. The skin makes it easier to move the fish and keeps the fish together.

Pro tip: If you are using a thinner fillet from the tail end or individual portioned fillets, know that these will cook faster; you should adjust the time down by a minute or so.

How to Cook Salmon in the Instant Pot

There are two methods for cooking salmon in the Instant Pot. Whichever one you try, use this general timing: five minutes at high pressure. You'll also want to make sure you follow the one cut of liquid rule. In order to come to pressure, most Instant Pots require about one cup of liquid. If your Instant Pot is not coming to pressure, try adding a touch more liquid.

The two methods? Saucing and steaming. For either method, after everything is in the pot, lock the lid, and set it to high pressure for five minutes. When the pot indicates that it is done, manually release the pressure and unlock the lid. Remember to season the salmon with salt and pepper. In the event that you open the pot and decide you'd like the fish more well done, just relock the lid and set the pot to high pressure for another minute. Check and repeat if necessary. 

Method: Sauce

With this technique, the salmon is cooked directly in a flavorful sauce. Start with 1/4 cup of your favorite sauce and 3/4 cups water. Place the salmon skin-side down directly into the sauce mixture. Not sure what sauce to try first? How about teriyaki or honey mustard? At the end of the cooking, if the sauce is too thin, remove the salmon and set the Instant Pot to sauté. Boil the remaining liquid until it is reduced to the right consistency. Or just serve more sauce on the side.

Variations: Increase the amount of sauce if you like fish very saucy or have a mild flavored sauce. Decrease the amount of sauce if you are using a very salty sauce or prefer a subtle flavor. Aim for one cup of liquid total, so just adjust the water up or down accordingly to get there.

Method: Steam

This isn't exactly steaming, in this method the salmon is not submerged in the liquid but it's pretty close. Pour one cup of water or broth into the bottom of the instant pot insert. Either add 1 1/4 pounds tiny or chopped potatoes into the water or place the steamer insert in the pot over the water. Arrange the salmon skin-side down over the potatoes or on the steamer insert above the water.

Variations: Add fresh herbs into the water to infuse herbal notes into the fish. Another option is to add a tablespoon of butter or oil in the water with the potatoes for a creamier texture. Try mashing the cooked potatoes with garlic, butter, and cream. Swap some of the potatoes for chopped hearty root vegetables. Rub a spice mixture or spoon a sauce like a combo of grainy mustard and honey mustard over the top of the salmon. Finish the cooked salmon with a fresh herb pesto.

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