alaskan salmon

5 Tips For Cooking Sockeye Salmon + Easy Recipe

Last Updated on December 15, 2023

When preparing ButcherBox’s wild-caught sockeye salmon, it’s important to remember that it’s leaner than Atlantic salmon or other farm-raised salmon you may be used to, though it’s still rich in healthy omega-3 fats. Sockeye salmon has a bold, pronounced flavor, but because it has more compact flesh than other salmon varieties, it cooks relatively quickly (making it perfect for busy weeknights).

We’ve got you covered with 5 tips and tricks to make sure you’re successful when preparing your next sockeye salmon meal.

1. Be sure to pat the fish dry thoroughly with paper towels. This will get you the tender, flaky texture you want (too much surface moisture can make the fish mushy).

2. If you’re pan-frying, get the skillet nice and hot before adding the fish. Preheating the skillet thoroughly allows the skin to crisp and the fish to cook through efficiently, so you don’t have dry edges and a raw center. (How do you know if it’s hot enough? Add ⅛ teaspoon water to the pan; it should roll around the bottom in a single ball.)

3. For baking or pan-frying, cook the fish with the skin on to keep it from drying out. The skin will stick when it first hits the pan, but it will release once it has cooked for a few minutes.

4. If you’re poaching or steaming the fish you can remove the skin–but don’t toss it! Pat the skin dry, season it with sea salt and pan fry over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil, flipping once or twice, until it’s golden brown and crisp (or you can air fry it). It’s a delicious and healthy snack, full of omega-3 fats and vitamin D.

5. Regardless of how you cook your salmon, don’t overhandle it. Cook it skin side down, and only flip it once, if at all. Overhandling can cause the salmon to fall apart.

That beautiful dark orange color you see in wild-caught sockeye salmon is a preview of the rich flavor you’re about to enjoy. Try our favorite super-simple recipe below.

Simple Sockeye Salmon

5 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 ButcherBox Sockeye Salmon Filets about 5 ounces each
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, dill and smoked paprika; mix well. Place a cast iron or other heavy bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium heat until very hot, 3 to 4 minutes. While the skillet is heating, pat the salmon filets dry very thoroughly with paper towels. Brush the tops with 1 tablespoon of the avocado oil. Season generously all over with salt; sprinkle lightly with pepper. Sprinkle the fish with the spice mixture.
  • Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon avocado oil over the bottom of the skillet and add the salmon immediately, skin side down. Cook undisturbed until the skin begins to crisp and release from the pan (gently lift one side with tongs to check) and the flesh is cooked about one-fourth of the way up the side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Drizzle the fish with the lemon juice; transfer the skillet to the oven.
  • Roast until the fish is done to your liking, 2 to 4 minutes for medium rare (120ºF on a meat thermometer stuck into the thickest part). Add another 2 to 3 minutes if you prefer it cooked more (125-130ºF for medium). Serve.
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Beth Lipton is a Brooklyn-based recipe developer and writer specializing in food and wellness. Her work has appeared in Clean Eating, Paleo magazine, FoodNetwork.com, Well+Good, Outside, Sleep.com and more. Beth's latest cookbook, Carnivore-ish, featuring 125 animal protein-forward recipes, is available now.