Whenever my family sits down to a salmon dinner we always have the same debate: do you eat the crispy, burnt salmon skin or does it go to the side of the plate with the stray bones?
My mother is a member of Club No Salmon Skin, which works out in my favor if I’m quick enough to get to her plate before my dad, who is on the same side as me – salmon skin is super delicious when it’s cooked just right.
So I set out to cook a salmon fillet with the sole purpose of making the skin crispy. It was surprisingly easy! I tried a couple of methods and found most success with these directions from Bon Appétit.
And don’t worry, if you’re not a fan of salmon skin, just peel it away and still enjoy this delicious method of cooking wild Alaska salmon.
How to cook wild Alaska salmon with crispy skin
- 1 fillet of Bristol Bay Sockeye salmon
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Lemon Dijon sauce:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- zest of one lemon
- juice of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Remove the pin bones from your wild Alaska salmon fillet. A helpful trick is to place a mixing bowl upside-down on the counter and lay the fillet across it. The curvature allows the bones to stick out slightly and makes it easier for needle nose pliers to grasp them.
Slice the fillet into portions about 6-8 ounces each (should make 2-3). Pat them dry on both sides with paper towels and place them skin side up on a plate. Let sit uncovered in the fridge for one hour.
Liberally coat a cast iron skillet with olive oil. Place the salmon skin side down in the pan and turn on the heat to high.
Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium flame and whisk in the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and mustard. Bring to a light simmer and add pepper to taste. Turn off heat and set aside.
Cook the salmon skin side down for about 7 minutes. There is no exact science to this as some fillets are thicker than others. The flesh should be opaque around the sides and there should be a ring of raw salmon in the middle of the fillet. Turn off the heat and carefully turn the fillets in the pan with a fish spatula. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes from the residual heat of the skillet. This should be enough to cook the salmon through as most of the cooking happened while the skin was getting crispy.
See how lovely and charred your salmon skin is? It’s ok if it’s a little burnt – that’s the good stuff right there.
Serve your salmon fillets with rice and veggies. Top the rice and veggies with the lemon Dijon sauce (but don’t pour it over the salmon. You don’t want the skin to get soggy!)
After munching down the salmon skin, sop bites of the salmon in the sauce on your plate. It’s so good!