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.
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.
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
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
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 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:
- Creamy Citrus Mango Sauce (works nice with chilled steamed salmon as a dressing over fresh salads greens)
- Blackberry-wine sauce (from this recipe)
- A dollop of fresh basil pesto
- A tropical pineapple-mango salsa
- Nectarine and tomato chutney
- Preserved Lemon Sauce
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
- 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
- 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.