How To Steam Salmon

By Sally Cameron on August 29, 2014

Basics and how-to, Fish & Seafood, the daniel plan

With time-starved schedules and the desire to eat healthy, everyone needs fast recipes they can turn to. Here is one I’ve done a lot this summer – Steamed Salmon. Never done it? It’s so easy. You can have dinner on the table in just minutes. About six minutes to be exact. Steaming: it’s not just for vegetables. Read on to learn how to steam salmon.

How to steam Salmon | AFoodCentriclIfe.com

Why Steam Salmon

For years I have roasted, seared and oven finished, sautéed in the pan, baked in parchment, poached, even grilled salmon. A few months ago I started steaming salmon. Steaming produces delicious, healthy, nutritious, moist salmon in a matter of minutes.

Once water passes the boiling point, it turns to steam, and steam cooks quickly and gently. It’s a great cooking technique for delicate seafood. An average thick filet takes about 5-6 minutes to steam.

How to Prep Salmon Filets

First, skin the fish. Either ask the person at the seafood counter to do it for you, or do it yourself with a thin, flexible knife. Here is how to skin a salmon filet and trim out the blood line. The bloodline is the purple area you will see after skiing the salmon. It can be strong tasting, which is why many people think they don’t like salmon. Try trimming out the bloodline.

Because we eat a lot of fish, I invested in a filet knife. If you eat a lot of fish, you might want to buy one. A filet knife is a good addition to your knife collection.

Next, remove pin bones. Run your fingers lightly over the fish to feel for any pin bones. If you find any, gently pull them out with clean pliers. You can buy fish pliers just to keep in the kitchen. Lately I’ve been using mini fishing pliers (thanks to my father-in-law). I like them because the are so small and don’t take up much room in the drawer. You can also use tweezers.

how to skin salmon|AFoodCentricLife.com

how to skin salmon|AFoodCentricLife.com

how to skin salmon|AFoodCentricLife.com

Lastly, portion and fold if needed.  If your salmon filet has a thick end and a flatter, thinner end, not to worry. So that the thinner end does not over-cook, fold it under to create a more evenly thick piece of fish.

How to steam Salmon | AFoodCentriclIfe.com

folded salmon filet|AFoodCentricLife.com

How to Steam Salmon

You will need a large pot with a tight fitting lid. I use a Le Creuset 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven, another great addition to your kitchen collection.

To hold the salmon, use a stainless steel steamer rack. Be sure it opens flat and has a removable center post. The OXO steamer works great. The newer silicon ones work well too.

How to steam Salmon | AFoodCentriclIfe.com

How to Steam Salmon

Create a quick and flavorful broth for your salmon to steam in. Add water, lemon juice, white wine (optional), dried or fresh herbs, bay leaf, and garlic plus salt and pepper to the bottom of the pot.With the lid on, bring to a boil, then turn down to low to simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to develop. If you are really in a hurry, skip the simmering part.

Next, give the steamer a spritz of non-stick spray to insure easy release. Insert the steamer and add the salmon. Place the lid back on and time for 5-6 minutes. The salmon will be a pale orange color. If you are nervous about cooking fish, it should be at least 145º (63º C) when measured with a digital thermometer.

How to steam Salmon | AFoodCentriclIfe.com

How to steam Salmon | AFoodCentriclIfe.com

How to Serve Steamed Salmon

Steamed salmon can be served hot, warm or even chilled. If serving chilled, you can steam and chill it a few hours ahead of time. For serving ideas, add a squeeze of lemon or sauce such as:

Steamed salmon is also nice used in a classic South-of-France salad called a Nicoise. It’s a meal unto itself.

How to steam Salmon | AFoodCentriclIfe.com

How To Steam Salmon

Everyone needs fast and easy recipes they can turn to. Here is one I’ve done a lot this summer – Steamed Salmon. You can have dinner on the table in just minutes. Serve salmon warm or chilled. Ideas for sauces are in the post with links to recipes.
Course Main Course, Salmon, Seafood
Cuisine American
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 1 12 ounce salmon filet preferably wild, skinned
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 1 cup white wine optional, add 1 cup water if not using
  • 1 small handful fresh thyme sprigs or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 lemon quartered and squeezed into water and rinds added
  • A few pinches of salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Cut salmon filet into two equal pieces. If one has a flatter, thinner end, fold it under first to create an even piece, then cut in half to achieve equal portions. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic.
  • Add water, bay leaf, garlic, wine, thyme, lemon, salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil with lid on, then turn down to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes to create a flavorful steaming broth. Note – the broth should come just to the bottom of your steamer. The quantity might need to be adjusted depending on the legs of your steamer. Turn the heat up until the broth is boiling and steam is coming out of the pan lid. 
  • Sprray steam rack with non-stick (or use a little oil), add to pot, add salmon, and steam with lid on for 5-6 minutes or until salmon reached 145º internally when measured wtih a digital thermometer. Timing will depend on the thickness of your salmon.  Serve warm or chilled with sauce of choice. See post for ideas and recipe links. 
44 Comments
  1. allison lane - June 29th, 2010

    hi mrs.cameron! we had ur crusted salmon 2night and it was delicious! i cant belive u made that up!

  2. Chef Sally - June 29th, 2010

    Hi Allison! You are so cute! Glad you liked the salmon. If you like salmon I have lots more good recipes for you! Keep practicing those knife skills we worked on. And you can call me Sally! And hey chef always works 🙂

  3. Vicky - March 12th, 2012

    Looks gorgeous with the white and black sesame seeds!

  4. Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon - August 30th, 2014

    I love watching you prep food. I love seeing what you use to prep/cook/serve. It always looks so pretty. Now I need a filet knife.

  5. Ordinary Blogger (Rivki Locker) - August 31st, 2014

    I am a big fan of salmon but I have never tried it steamed. Bookmarking this to try some time soon. LOVE your green Le Creuset pan. 🙂

  6. Sally - August 31st, 2014

    Its so easy and fast Rivki! You will be amazed. Please report back if you try it.

  7. Sally - September 7th, 2014

    Me too Rivki! I have the Fennel Green Le Creuset in the #26 (5 1/2 qt) and the smaller orange Flame in #22, about 3 1/2 qt. Use them both all of the time. Great sizes. Hope you enjoy the salmon. Steaming the salmon is so easy and fast you will be amazed. Let me know!

  8. Regina - September 22nd, 2015

    Best steamed recipes I’ve ever seen!

  9. Stevie - March 13th, 2016

    What is the oven temperature?

  10. Sally Cameron - March 13th, 2016

    There is no oven temperature Stevie. Its steamed on the stove top in a pot.

  11. Billie - September 28th, 2016

    I am glad to be one of many visitors on this great site (:
    , regards for putting up.

  12. Margarita - October 10th, 2016

    Very nice and easy recipe. Thank you. Having it today for thanksgiving….
    Cheers Sally.

  13. Sarah - December 2nd, 2016

    How do you prevent the “white stuff” that comes on the top of salmon while cooking. I use the Tupperware Steamer and 2 fillets cook in 6 minutes. Should I turn them half way, because I noticed there was no “white stuff” on the bottom.

  14. Sally Cameron - December 2nd, 2016

    Hi Sarah. The white stuff is just coagulated protein, also known as albumin. Totally natural. You might also be overcooking the salmon. And no, you do to need to turn the filets. Hope this helps!

  15. Everett - December 2nd, 2016

    You are the only one to direct putting lid on pot. Thank you..

  16. Ben - January 21st, 2017

    In step 3 are you supposed to bring the Water back to a boil before inserting fish? WHat other fish are good to steam?

  17. Sally Cameron - January 22nd, 2017

    Hi Ben. The water should still be very hot and steaming. Just quickly remove the lid and place the salmon in the spot and steam. Does that make sense? It’s almost too easy!

  18. Glenn - January 26th, 2017

    Coming from a family that ran a Chinese restaurant, my Mom would steam the salmon by itself for 15-20 minutes then lay it on a platter. She would put crushed black beans, minced garlic, salt & pepper & then pour VERY hot vegetable oil on the salmon (Do this in a clean sink as the hot oil will splatter). When that hot oil hits the minced garlic on the salmon, what an incredible aroma! Then add dark soy sauce (not too much) & fresh cilantro or green onions on top. Served with steamed rice, it is delish! I do that now for my kids & grand kids.

  19. Sally Cameron - January 28th, 2017

    Sounds delicious Glenn, lucky family!

  20. rashvir - January 28th, 2017

    can you use the water again right after to cook a few more pieces?

  21. Sally Cameron - January 28th, 2017

    Yes you sure can Rashvir!

  22. Sally Cameron - August 23rd, 2017

    Absolutely!

  23. Pauline Sowden - March 14th, 2017

    Hi there ms. Cameron

    If you presoak the salmon for 15 min or so in about 6cups of water with a couple tbsp of sea salt, you eliminate the white protein coming out. Saw it on ATK last year.
    Love, love, steamed salmon

  24. Sally Cameron - March 14th, 2017

    Hi Pauline. Thanks for your comment. Like you, we love steamed salmon. So easy, fast and healthy. The white stuff that comes out of salmon, when it is cooked too quickly, too hot, or too long, is albumin; basically coagulated protein. Brining can help, although I have not done that, as I don’t overcook my salmon. Over-cooking fish is easy to do and common as many people are unsure of cooking fish at the beginning and are fearful of under cooking. Then it gets over done, and sometimes the albumin comes out. I also season my salmon a few minutes ahead of time with sea salt, pepper, and granulated garlic, which might affect it as in brining. What ever you do, happy cooking and enjoy your salmon!

  25. Lita Watson - June 11th, 2017

    Streaming salmon!? That sounds incredible! Thank for giving a brand new ways to cook salmon, How long can it be preserve in refrigerator if I have some leftovers!?

  26. Sally Cameron - June 17th, 2017

    Hi Lita. If you are steaming the salmon and plan to use it chilled, such as in a salad or as a chilled main, it will last up to three days in the fridge. Great as we go into hot summer weather. Steam on Sunday and enjoy during the week with an herbed aioli, pesto, out many other sauces. I like to mix Veganaise with Dijon, capers, lemon, a little finely minced shallot and, if I have it, finely chopped fresh dill. Makes a great chilled topping.

  27. Linda M - June 28th, 2017

    I don’t cook but this recipie made me feel like I do Delicious and healthy too!

  28. Sally Cameron - June 30th, 2017

    It is SOO easy! You can do this! Try it!

  29. @Goldgranary - October 27th, 2017

    We just tried it without thyme (just run out of it) but still tastes outstanding! I think the broth makes it juicy and yummy in every bite! Thanks for sharing!

  30. Sally Cameron - November 3rd, 2017

    And so easy too, right? Use the herbs you have. I cook with a lot of thyme. If you do
    n’t have fresh, use dried. The ratio from fresh to dried is 1 tablespoon of fresh = 1 teaspoon of dried.

  31. Freaddy - October 28th, 2017

    Thanks, that was pretty good

  32. Joao - November 1st, 2017

    Hi, it sounds delicious indeed, but can you steam a whole fish using a fish kettle?
    In this case for how long should we steam the fish?

  33. Sally Cameron - November 3rd, 2017

    Hi Jao. I’ve not done a whole salmon that way. This is quick and easy for portions of salmon, easier to manage than a whole fish. But if you have one of those big oval special pans with a steamer rack just for steaming fish, it should work fine. Place the liquid and herbs in the bottom, add the rack on top, place the whole filet on top, cover and steam. You don’t want the whole fish, skin, bones, and all. Does that make sense?

  34. Judy - February 15th, 2018

    Do you discard the broth or is it served over the salmon?

  35. Sally Cameron - February 17th, 2018

    Hi Judy, good question. I discard it.

  36. Jabe - July 17th, 2018

    I am going to try this tonight! I bet it would be yummy with this salad dressing I make! Delicious as a sauce!
    https://food52.com/recipes/16940-april-bloomfield-s-lemon-caper-dressing

  37. Matt - October 11th, 2018

    Followed directions but middle of salmon was raw after 6 min :(. Not sure what I did wrong

  38. Sally Cameron - October 14th, 2018

    Hi Matt. Hmm, that is strange. Sorry you had that experience and thank you for telling me. I hope you just let it go longer until it was done. Fish is done when it reaches 145°F in the center (good to know) and use a digital cooking thermometer. I do this all of the time with salmon. Is your water really boiling and creating steam? Can you see it coming out from under the lid of the pan? It could be the thickness of your fish compared to what I get. I use a 4-5 quart pan and a folding steamer rack. Hope you will try it again and please let me know so I can try to help you!

  39. David Curtin - June 26th, 2019

    I used a 2 tier steamer you can do the veg under the salmon on top I fry them altogether at the end in butter just to coat them to add flavor with onion salt and garlic granules and Pepper , delicious quick meal !!!

  40. Nysha - August 17th, 2019

    Nice and simple recipe. Was a bit skeptical about the length of time but it worked beautifully!
    Thanks
    nyshaoren@me.com

  41. Sally Cameron - August 26th, 2019

    I know, right? It goes so quick.

  42. Yvonne - September 25th, 2019

    Hi, how long to steam a filet of salmon (1.5kg)? Thanks

  43. Sally Cameron - October 1st, 2019

    Yvonne, looks like you talking about and entire filet, a side of salmon. It will depends on the thickness of the fish. Best way to tell is to use a digital thermometer. It should register 145°. Steaming salmon goes quick. Keep your notes in a kitchen journal. Hope that helps.

  44. Chris Cannock - November 13th, 2019

    Try Steamed Salmon with a Butter, Lemon and Caper Sauce. It really is tasty and also gives a lift to green Vegetables.

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