Salmon as Food: How to Prepare, Store, and Eat It Safely

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 30, 2022

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Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Other fish in the same family include trout, char, grayling and whitefish. Salmon are native to tributaries of the North Atlantic (genus Salmo) and Pacific Ocean (genus Oncorhynchus).

Salmon is a great food that’s delicious, healthy (like with smoked food), and versatile. It’s also pretty easy to cook.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about cooking this delicious fish so you can impress your friends and family.

What is salmon

In this post we'll cover:

Salmon: A Guide to Understanding this Fatty Fish

Salmon is a type of fish that is commonly found in the ocean. It is classified as an oily fish due to its high fat content, but this fat is considered to be beneficial to the body. Salmon is also rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining a healthy heart and body.

The Different Types of Salmon

Salmon can be found in a variety of different waters around the world, including the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. There are several different types of salmon, including:

  • Chinook
  • Coho
  • Sockeye
  • Pink
  • Chum

The taste and texture of each type of salmon varies significantly, so it’s important to check which type you’re buying before cooking it.

Salmon Farms vs. Wild Salmon

While wild salmon is typically considered to be the better option, salmon farms offer a convenient and widely available alternative. Some of the key differences between the two include:

  • Wild salmon is typically considered to be more pure and natural, while salmon farms may contain higher levels of contaminants.
  • Wild salmon is often more expensive and harder to find, while salmon farms offer a more affordable and widely available option.
  • Some people believe that wild salmon has a better taste and texture than farmed salmon, while others may not notice a significant difference.

Ultimately, whether you choose to eat wild or farmed salmon is a matter of personal preference and what is available to you.

How to Cook Salmon

Salmon is an incredibly versatile food that can be cooked in a variety of different ways. Some popular methods of cooking salmon include:

  • Grilling
  • Baking
  • Broiling
  • Boiling
  • Pan-frying

When cooking salmon, it’s important to keep in mind that it is a firm fish that can dry out quickly if overcooked. A good rule of thumb is to cook salmon for approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Ways to Enjoy Salmon

Salmon is a popular food that can be found on menus all over the world. Some popular dishes that include salmon include:

  • Sushi and sashimi
  • Grilled salmon with vegetables
  • Baked salmon with herbs and spices
  • Salmon burgers
  • Smoked salmon on a bagel

Salmon is also commonly found in salads, pasta dishes, and other types of cuisine.

Exploring the Rich and Unique Taste of Salmon

Salmon is a popular fish that is widely available and loved by many. If you’re looking for a fish that brings tons of flavor to your dish, salmon is the correct choice. But what does it taste like? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Salmon has a rich, smoky, and fatty taste that is mildly sweet.
  • The taste of salmon can vary depending on the variety, where it was found, and how it was prepared.
  • Typically, salmon is eaten fresh and served in a variety of dishes, both raw and cooked.
  • Wild salmon found in the ocean tends to have a more robust flavor compared to white salmon found in freshwater.
  • The taste of salmon is similar to other fish but has a smooth and buttery texture that sets it apart.
  • Lower quality salmon can have a slightly fishy taste, but this can be improved with marinating or adding soy sauce.
  • Overcooking salmon can ruin its taste, so it’s essential to cook it the right way.
  • Salmon is a heart-healthy food that needs to be protected to increase its availability and affordability.

Describing the Taste of Salmon

It’s pretty hard to describe the taste of salmon, but here are some words that can help:

  • Rich
  • Smoky
  • Fatty
  • Sweet
  • Fresh
  • Different
  • Famous
  • Typical
  • Unique

How to Prepare Salmon to Satisfy Your Taste Buds

Salmon can be prepared in many ways to satisfy your taste buds. Here are some popular ways to prepare salmon:

  • Grilled or baked with a little bit of salt and pepper
  • Served raw as sushi or sashimi
  • Marinated in soy sauce and other seasonings
  • Cooked in a dish as the main ingredient

Ways to Add Salmon to Your Diet

If you’re looking to add salmon to your diet, here are some ways to do it:

  • Grilled salmon sticks
  • Salmon sushi rolls
  • Baked salmon with vegetables
  • Marinated salmon salad

Salmon: More Than Just a Fish

Salmon is a versatile seafood that can be consumed in various forms. Here are some of the most common types of salmon products:

  • Fresh salmon: This is the most common type of salmon product. Fresh salmon is typically sold whole or in fillets and can be found in most grocery stores and seafood markets. It is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Canned salmon: Canned salmon is a convenient option for people who want to enjoy salmon without the hassle of cooking it. It is typically sold in pouches or cans and can be found in most grocery stores. Canned salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and it is also low in carbohydrates and fiber.
  • Smoked salmon: Smoked salmon is a popular delicacy that is typically served as an appetizer or on a bagel with cream cheese. It is made by smoking salmon over wood chips, which gives it a slightly smoky flavor. Smoked salmon is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but it is also high in sodium.
  • Salmon jerky: Salmon jerky is a type of dried salmon that is similar to beef jerky. It is a great snack option for people who are on-the-go and want to get their protein fix. Salmon jerky is typically low in fat and calories and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Choosing and Preparing Salmon

When it comes to choosing and preparing salmon, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Selecting salmon: When selecting salmon, it’s important to choose a high-quality product. Look for salmon that is firm to the touch, has a bright color, and smells fresh. If you’re buying fresh salmon, make sure to use it within a day or two of purchase.
  • Preparing salmon: Salmon can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, baking, and pan-searing. When preparing salmon, make sure to use clean utensils and keep the internal temperature of the fish at 145°F to ensure that it is safe to eat. If you’re not sure how to prepare salmon, there are plenty of recipes available online.
  • Freezing salmon: If you’re not planning to eat your salmon right away, you can freeze it for later use. Make sure to wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it in a freezer-safe container. Frozen salmon can typically be kept for up to six months.

Wild vs. Farmed Salmon

When it comes to choosing salmon, there are two main options: wild salmon and farmed salmon. Here are some details about each type:

  • Wild salmon: Wild salmon is caught in the wild and is considered to be a healthier option than farmed salmon. Wild salmon typically contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of contaminants like mercury.
  • Farmed salmon: Farmed salmon is raised in fish farms and is considered to be a less healthy option than wild salmon. Farmed salmon may contain higher levels of contaminants like mercury and PCBs, and it may also have a less healthy nutrient profile than wild salmon.

Salmon and Your Diet

Salmon can be a great addition to a healthy diet, but it’s important to keep your individual needs in mind. Here are some things to consider:

  • Protein needs: Salmon is a great source of protein, which is important for building and repairing muscles. Depending on your body and activity level, you may need more or less protein than the average person.
  • Carbohydrate needs: Salmon is typically low in carbohydrates, which can be beneficial for people who are following a low-carb diet. However, if you need more carbohydrates in your diet, you may need to supplement your salmon with other carb-rich foods.
  • Mercury risk: Some types of salmon, like sockeye and canned salmon, are considered to be low in mercury. However, other types of salmon, like king salmon, may contain higher levels of mercury. If you’re concerned about mercury exposure, make sure to select salmon options that are low in mercury.
  • Complete nutrition: Salmon is an excellent source of complete nutrition, meaning that it contains all of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly. Adding salmon to your diet can help ensure that you’re getting all of the nutrients that your body needs to thrive.

When to Enjoy the Best of Salmon

When it comes to salmon, freshness is key. Fresh salmon has a firm texture and a bright color. It is best to buy salmon from a reputable source and check the quality of the fish before purchasing. Look for salmon that has clear eyes, shiny skin, and a fresh smell.

Nutritional Benefits

Salmon is known for its high nutritional value and is considered a healthy food choice. It is an excellent source of protein and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart and brain health. Salmon is also a good source of vitamin D and selenium, which promotes a healthy immune system and helps reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

Storage and Serving

To ensure the best quality and taste, it is important to store salmon properly. Fresh salmon should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within a few days. If you have more than you can eat in a few days, you can freeze it for later use. When serving salmon, it is best to cook it until it is firm and opaque. A single serving of salmon is typically 3-4 ounces, and it is recommended to have at least two servings of fish per week.

Preparing Salmon: Tips and Tricks for the Ultimate Meal

  • When buying fresh salmon, look for bright pink flesh and a slightly sweet smell.
  • If you’re not planning on eating it the same day, freeze it or store it in the coldest part of your fridge for up to a week.
  • If you’re buying frozen salmon, make sure to check the label for thawing instructions.

Thawing Salmon

  • The best way to thaw frozen salmon is to place it in the fridge overnight.
  • If you need to thaw it quickly, submerge the salmon in cold water for an hour.
  • Never thaw salmon at room temperature or in warm water, as this can lead to bacterial growth.

Removing Bones and Skin

  • To remove the skin, place the salmon skin-side down on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut between the flesh and skin.
  • To remove the bones, use a pair of tweezers to pull them out gently.

Cooking Methods

  • Grilled salmon is a popular option, but it depends on the size and thickness of the fillets. A medium heat is best, and it takes approximately 4-6 minutes per side.
  • Baked salmon is easy and entirely hands-off. Preheat the oven to 400°F, place the salmon in a baking dish, and cook for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  • Pan-fried salmon is quick and easy. Heat a bit of oil in a pan over medium heat, add the salmon fillets, and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side.
  • For a healthy option, try poaching salmon in water or broth. This method takes approximately 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Serving Suggestions

  • Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the cooked salmon for a bright, fresh flavor.
  • Serve with roasted or mashed potatoes for a hearty meal.
  • For a weeknight dinner, try serving salmon with a side salad or steamed vegetables.

Storing Leftovers

  • If you have leftover cooked salmon, store it tightly wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  • If you’re not planning on eating it within that time, freeze it for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat, place the salmon in a pan with a bit of oil or butter and heat over medium heat until warmed through.

Tips and Tricks

  • Let the salmon rest for a few minutes after cooking to allow the center to cook through and the flavors to meld.
  • To get a nice blackened crust on the salmon, turn up the heat for the last minute of cooking.
  • For a quick and easy weeknight meal, try one of these salmon recipes:

– Salmon stir-fry with vegetables and rice
– Salmon tacos with avocado and salsa
– Salmon burgers with a side salad

Salmon Dishes: A World of Flavor

Salmon is commonly eaten raw or smoked, and there are many different ways to prepare it. Some popular dishes include:

  • Sliced thinly and served with soy sauce and wasabi in Japan
  • Served with cream cheese and diced onions on a bagel in American Jewish cuisine, known as lox
  • Cured with salt, sugar, and dill in Nordic countries, known as gravlax, and accompanied by a creamy sauce called hovmästarsås


Cooked salmon dishes are just as diverse and delicious. Here are some of the most common ways to prepare salmon:

  • Baked or grilled fillet with a sweet and spicy chili sauce
  • Boiled and served with boiled potatoes and a creamy dill sauce in Nordic countries
  • Prepared in a creamy soup with potatoes and onions in Polynesian cuisine
  • Grilled and served with a tomato and cucumber salad in American cuisine

Alternative Preparations

Salmon can also be used as an alternative to other meats in various dishes. Here are some examples:

  • Salmon can be diced and added to a stir-fry with vegetables and rice
  • Salmon can be thinly sliced and used as a topping for a pizza
  • Salmon can be mixed with egg and bread crumbs to make salmon cakes


Salmon dishes are often accompanied by various sauces and toppings. Here are some examples:

  • A sweet and tangy soy sauce is commonly served with raw salmon in Japan
  • A creamy dill sauce is often served with boiled salmon in Nordic countries
  • A mustard and dill sauce is typically served with gravlax in Nordic countries
  • A gentle heat chili sauce is often served with grilled salmon in Polynesian cuisine

Origin and Variations

Salmon dishes have a rich and varied history, with different preparations and styles associated with different regions and cultures. Here are some examples:

  • The Hawaiians introduced salmon to Polynesian cuisine in the early 19th century, and it is now a popular ingredient in many dishes
  • Salmon is commonly associated with Nordic cuisine, where it has been a staple food for centuries
  • Salmon is also a popular ingredient in American cuisine, where it is often served grilled or baked with various sauces and toppings
  • European and Jewish cuisines also have a long history of using salmon in various dishes, including lox and gravlax

Salmon is a versatile and delicious food that can be prepared in many different ways. Whether you prefer it raw, smoked, or cooked, there is a salmon dish out there that is perfect for you.

Keeping Your Salmon Safe and Fresh: Storage and Food Safety Tips

  • When buying salmon, avoid unpackaged fish and always check the sell-by date.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling the fish.
  • Use clean utensils and cutting boards when preparing the fish.
  • If you’re cutting the fish, physically separate the raw and cooked products to prevent bacteria from spreading.
  • Wash all utensils, cutting boards, and counter tops with soapy water after handling the fish.
  • If you’re transporting the fish, carry it in a cooler with cold packs and keep it in the shade.
  • If the fish has been previously thawed, make sure to keep it chilled until you’re ready to cook it.


  • Store fresh salmon in the coldest part of your refrigerator, ideally at 32-34°F.
  • Keep the fish in its original packaging or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  • If you’re storing the fish for a longer period of time, consider packing it in a solution of one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water to sanitize the interior of the container.
  • Make sure the lid of the container is closed tightly to prevent air from entering.
  • If you’re storing cooked salmon, make sure it’s cooled down to room temperature before packing it in the refrigerator.


  • The best way to thaw frozen salmon is to run it under cold water or leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Avoid thawing salmon at room temperature, as this can promote the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • If you’re in a hurry, you can also thaw salmon in the microwave, but make sure to cook it immediately after thawing.

Added Precautions

  • Use sanitizers to clean your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.
  • Use plastic or ceramic cutting boards instead of wooden ones, as they’re easier to clean and sanitize.
  • If you’re using a dishwasher to clean your utensils and cutting boards, make sure to use the hottest setting to kill any bacteria.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling raw fish to prevent contamination.

The Nutritional Value of Salmon: Why It’s a Key Type of Healthy Food

Salmon is classified as an oily fish, which means it contains beneficial fats that are particularly important for our bodies. A serving of salmon, which is about 3 to 4 ounces or 85 to 113 grams, provides a total of 20 to 25 grams of protein, making it an excellent source of this essential nutrient. Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have been linked to multiple health benefits, including reducing inflammation, improving heart health, and supporting brain function.

The Nutritional Profile of Salmon: Vitamins, Minerals, and Fiber

Salmon is an excellent source of several key vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, potassium, and iron. A serving of salmon provides about 80 to 90 mg of vitamin B12, which is essential for producing red blood cells and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Salmon is also a good source of vitamin D, which is important for bone health and immune function. In addition, salmon contains potassium, which is important for regulating blood pressure, and iron, which is essential for producing hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Salmon also contains small amounts of carbohydrates and fiber, which can vary depending on the type of salmon and how it’s cooked.

The Health Benefits of Salmon: Why It’s a Natural and Healthful Food

Salmon is a healthy food choice for several reasons. First, it’s naturally low in saturated fat, which is the type of fat that can increase cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Second, salmon is a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are the types of fats that can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Third, salmon is rich in nutrients that are essential for overall health and well-being. Finally, salmon is available in multiple varieties, including wild and farmed, fresh and canned, and cooked and raw, making it a versatile and convenient food choice.

The USDA Nutritional Value of Salmon: How Much Should You Eat?

According to the USDA, a 3-ounce portion of cooked salmon contains about 175 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 20 grams of protein. A serving of salmon also provides about 18% of the daily value for potassium, 10% of the daily value for iron, and 80% of the daily value for vitamin B12. When choosing salmon, it’s important to consider the type and source of the fish, as well as how it’s prepared. Wild salmon is generally considered to be a healthier choice than farmed salmon, as it’s less likely to contain contaminants and has a more natural nutritional profile. Canned salmon is also a good option, as it’s often less expensive than fresh salmon and provides similar nutritional benefits.

The Many Health Benefits of Eating Salmon

Salmon is a fatty fish that contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for maintaining heart health. Research notes that regular consumption of salmon can significantly lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in proper brain function, and they are also important for maintaining healthy skin.

Salmon is an Excellent Source of Protein

Salmon is an excellent source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. Protein also plays a critical role in maintaining bone health, preventing muscle loss, and helping the body heal and repair. A single piece of salmon contains a decent amount of protein, making it an excellent food choice for those who need to increase their protein intake.

Salmon Contains Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Salmon is a natural source of vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function properly. It contains vitamin B12, which is essential for producing red blood cells and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Salmon also supplies the body with iodine, which supports thyroid function, and vitamin D, which is necessary for bone health. Additionally, salmon contains a compound called astaxanthin, which offers impressive antioxidant benefits and helps protect the skin against UV damage.

Salmon Helps Control Weight and Reduce Inflammation

Salmon contains a complex mix of nutrients that work together to create a variety of health benefits. The high protein content in salmon helps to control weight by reducing appetite and increasing feelings of fullness. The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon also help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to a range of health problems.

Salmon is a Low Mercury Food

Unlike some other types of fish, salmon is a low mercury food, which means that it can be safely consumed in larger amounts without the risk of mercury toxicity. This makes it an excellent food choice for pregnant women, who need to be careful about the types of fish they eat.

Wild Salmon Populations: The Impact of Salmon Farming on Their Food Sources

Salmon farming has a significant impact on the wild populations of salmon. The farming of salmon requires a large amount of food, and this food is often sourced from smaller fish such as anchovies and sardines. These smaller fish are fished at enormous rates, depleting the ocean of a valuable food source for other ocean life, including wild salmon.

The Effect on Wild Salmon Populations

The depletion of food sources for wild salmon has a direct impact on their populations. When there is less food available, wild salmon populations can decline, which can have a ripple effect on the entire ecosystem. Wild salmon are an important food source for many animals, including bears, eagles, and orcas. When wild salmon populations decline, these animals may struggle to find enough food to survive.

The Importance of Sustainable Salmon Farming

While salmon farming can have a negative impact on wild salmon populations, it is important to note that not all salmon farming is created equal. Sustainable salmon farming practices can help to minimize the impact on wild populations. Some sustainable farming practices include:

  • Using alternative sources of feed, such as plant-based proteins, to reduce the reliance on smaller fish as a food source.
  • Implementing closed containment systems that prevent farmed salmon from coming into contact with wild salmon populations.
  • Monitoring and reducing the use of antibiotics and other chemicals that can harm the environment.

By supporting sustainable salmon farming practices, we can help to ensure that wild salmon populations continue to thrive for generations to come.

Is Eating Salmon Skin a Good Idea?

When it comes to preparing and cooking salmon skin, there are a few things to consider to ensure its safety and quality:

  • Choose salmon from safer sources to avoid potential negative effects of environmental toxins
  • Remove any excess fat or scales from the skin before cooking
  • Cut the skin into strips or pieces as needed
  • Dry the skin with a paper towel to make it easier to work with
  • Heat a non-stick pan on high and add the skin, skin-side down
  • Cook for a few minutes until the skin is crispy and slightly browned
  • Flip the skin and cook for an additional minute or two
  • Rest the skin on a paper towel to remove any excess oil


So, there you have it- everything you need to know about eating salmon. It’s a great way to get some healthy omega-3s into your diet, and it tastes pretty good, too. So, don’t be afraid to give it a try!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.