Nothing compares to fresh produce and meat, but it’s not always possible to have them fresh.
Some days you just need to grab some frozen fish from the store and make a quick meal. Cooking salmon is generally intimidating, and fish from frozen sections might scare you even more.
Let’s talk about how to cook salmon like a Masterchef!
Defrosting Frozen Salmon
When it comes to thawing your salmon, you have a few options depending on how much time you have on your hands. Though it’s possible to cook frozen salmon, it makes it easier to defrost it first.
The Refrigerator Method
If you’ve planned out your meal and have a whole day before you can get to cooking, the most foolproof way to defrost salmon is to leave it in the fridge.
All you need to do is take frozen salmon filets out of the freezer and into the fridge compartment. You might want to place a paper towel underneath to absorb the condensation.
It should take no longer than 24 hours for your meat to be ready for a delicious salmon recipe.
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The Water Bowl Method
If you still have a couple of hours before you need to cook your salmon, you can try submerging it in water. Fill a large bowl with cold water, place your fish in a ziplock bag, and submerge for about an hour.
Depending on the thickness, it might take less or more time. Either way, you should change the water every 15 minutes to speed up the process. This method won’t make your salmon soggy and will get the job relatively quick too.
The Microwave Method
If all else isn’t possible, the microwave is your best friend.
Put the salmon on a microwaveable plate, making sure to line it with paper towels. Then use the defrost option on your microwave and set the timer to 3 to 5 minutes.
You’ll have to be vigilant here because the fish needs to be slipped every 30 seconds to even defrost. Once the fish is soft to the touch, let it thaw on the shelf for a few minutes, and you’re good to go!
Cooking Frozen Salmon Fillets
Now that you’re familiar with the first and most crucial step of cooking seafood, let’s move on to how to cook frozen salmon fillets.
Frozen or not, everyone should try a pan-fried salmon dish once in their life. The crispy skin and tender white meat combination make the prep time all worth it.
For Frozen Salmon
- When you’re dealing with frozen salmon, rinse the salmon filets to get rid of any ice that’s on the surface. Make sure to dry it well with a paper towel.
- Heat your nonstick skillet over medium heat and place your fish skin side down on it. Don’t bother seasoning it right now since it is essentially a block of ice. Once it’s pan-fried on one side, flip it and then season it. Cook for 4 minutes or till the skin is browned.
- Flip the salmon, season it on the other side and let it cook. Cover the skillet so that the steam helps cook it thoroughly. Keep the skin side down while you let it steam so it doesn’t get soggy.
- Your salmon will be done once it’s opaque and flakes when you poke it with a paring knife. The internal temperature for medium-rare doneness should be about 120 Fahrenheit.
For Thawed Salmon
If you’ve managed to thaw out your salmon filets beforehand, you can skip a step or two, but the method mostly remains the same!
- Heat the skillet to medium heat and add a thin layer of cooking oil. Make sure to pat dry your salmon to absorb any excess moisture. Then score your meat and season with salt and pepper.
- When the oil is hot enough, cook the salmon skin side down and press with a spatula for even heat application.
- After cooking the skin, flip the salmon filet and cover it with a lid. Cook this at low heat for a few minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 120 Fahrenheit.
- Garnish with a little lemon juice, red pepper flakes, dijon mustard on the top, or just plain old olive oil!
Baking Salmon in the Oven
Baking is an efficient and quite hands-off method to cook salmon straight from the freezer, and if you follow the right steps, the end result can be very rewarding.
- Start off by preheating your oven to 435 Fahrenheit, making sure the rack is in the middle of the oven. Place your salmon fillet’s skin side down on the baking dish.
- To give your salmon dinner a little bit of a kick, make a cause by combining mustard, maple syrup, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Lightly coat the salmon with the sauce, or just spoon it all over it if you’re feeling funky!
- Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and let it bake for barely 15 minutes.
- Poke it with a knife to see if the ice crystals have melted. If they have, uncover and then roast for another 8 to 10 minutes. Wild salmon and farm-raised salmon cook slightly differently, so keep that in mind. The former kind tends to cook faster.
- After roasting frozen salmon to perfection, you can now sit back and enjoy it with a hearty salad or just some pasta.
Cooking Salmon in An Air Fryer
If you’re either too busy or too lazy to switch on the oven, the air fryer method will quite possibly save your life. Who would’ve thought there would be a day you could cook proper seafood meals in an air fryer?!
When you’re working with an air fryer, it’s best to accompany your salmon with a nice sweet and savory sauce so it doesn’t taste too dry.
- Preheat your air fryer to 390 degrees for just 5 minutes. Then add your frozen salmon fillets to it.
- Cook the salmon straight for seven minutes. Brush it with some mustard maple sauce, and flip it like a Krabby patty. Leave it for another 7 minutes.
- Finally, you’re left with one of the best air fryer salmon made in under 3 steps.
Cooking is an art, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from it if you’re not an artist. Dealing with frozen seafood might be tricky, but with the right temperatures and sauces, you can make yourself a delicious meal in under 30 minutes.
Remember, as soon as your salmon turns opaque. It’s time to take it out of the oven, air dryer, or pan. Bon-appetit!