Salmon filet with crispy skin 鮭の塩焼き

japanese cake

We eat salmon quite frequently and I have posted many salmon dishes but I realized I never posted my simplest and most frequent way of cooking salmon. As you may have noticed, I serve our salmon skin side up since my wife and I like the crispy skin best. I could have removed the skin and cooked it separately to get it crisp but through trial and error over the years I came up with a few tricks to get a nice crispiness without removing it from the filet. My secret is to salt and dry the skin surface in the refrigerator uncovered for at least, several hours or up to 3 days. We like to serve salmon with freshly cooked rice (plain for me and with butter and soy sauce for my wife). This time I served it with our cucumber onion salad with dill

We like filet (as opposed to steak cut), more specifically a head portion of salmon filet which has a belly portion (upper sliver portion in the picture below). I am not sure how many people like to eat the skin, probably not many. When we get salmon filet at our regular grocery store, it is not scaled. So the very first thing  I have to do is scale it (below) which is more difficult to do with a filet than if it was the entire fish. I usually place the filet on a plastic cutting board meat side down and using a filet knife under running water (weak stream) scale the filet. I also check for any pin bones and if present I remove them. I blot any moisture from skin and meat surface using several sheets of paper towel.

I usually remove the thin belly part which is most fatty (see below) and cook it separately as an appetizer

I cut the thick (or back) portion of the filet into one serving and salt it on both sides. I use Kosher salt (see below)

Here comes the most important part. I place the salted salmon filets on a plate skin side up, uncovered in the refrigerator for, at least, several hours or up to 3 days before cooking. The below is after 4 hours but over night is the best. Drying up the skin makes it much easier to cook the skin perfectly and without splatter.

Just for comparison, the below is after 3 days in the refrigerator. Looks totally dried out but once it’s cooked, it is just fine.

I put olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, on medium low heat (If you prefer you could use butter here). Without moving the filets, I cook the skin side for 5-7 minutes. If the filets seem to be sticking to the pan continue cooking for several more minutes.

When I turn them over,  you can see the skin is nicely crispy. I cook the meat side for 1-2 minutes more and finish cooking in a 400F oven (cooking time depends on the thickness but for 2 inch thick filet, like this one, 6-7 minutes).  I am using a convection oven. 

You will be amazed how much difference the drying process makes. We usually do not use any sauce. We just enjoy the flavor of the salon and crispy skin with freshly cooked rice.

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