I’ve got creative recipes for cooking with salmon during summer:
Gravlax is a Swedish technique for preserving raw salmon with salt and sugar. Though you can buy gravlax, it’s easy to make at home, where you can control the ingredients and how the finished product will taste. I enjoy homemade gravlax for its elegant appearance and fresh flavor that is so welcome during summer when the last thing I want to do is cook with heat. After a couple days curing in the fridge, gravlax is ready to slice and serve over rye bread with mustard sauce, or in this Tarragon Potato Salad, or on a bagel with cream cheese and chives. Homemade gravlax will keep in the fridge for a week or two. Learn how to make gravlax at home by checking out my step-by-step how to on Food52.
2. Seared Salmon with Crispy Skin
The skin on salmon isn’t an inconvenience, rather, a delicious treat when seared until crispy. Season the skin of a salmon fillet with salt and pepper and place the fillet, skin side down, in a very hot, oiled skillet. Sear until brown and crisp, about 3-4 minutes, then place the skillet into a 450 degree oven until cooked through, just a couple minutes more. This dish is about salmon pure and simple. Rich and fatty flesh paired with crackling skin is all you need.
3. Grilled Salmon with Orzo Salad
The richer, firmer-fleshed species of salmon (such as King) are well suited to cooking on the grill because they maintain moisture while forming a nice charred crust. I like the texture of grilled salmon in this Orzo Salad from Food & Wine. The rich, smoky salmon is paired with a summery pasta salad of cucumber, tomato, dill, and lemon vinaigrette. For a variation, I would use zucchini, squash, and mint.
4. Salmon Tartare on Potato Chips
Salmon Tartare is finely diced raw salmon, usually from the fatty belly or fillet. It’s usually complimented by piquant, briny ingredients like capers, mustard, and/or cornichon and fresh herbs like parsley or chive. In Jeremy Marshall’s recipe for Salmon Tartare the chilled salmon and flavorings are spooned onto homemade potato crisps, but you can also just use your favorite store bought potato chips. I do love making homemade chips though, so good!
5. Salmon Baked en Papillote
Wrapping salmon in parchment and baking it in the oven basically steams the fish inside the bag, leaving it moist, flakey, and tender. It’s a formula open to many variations: place a 4-ounce salmon fillet in parchment with a drizzle of olive oil, a few slices of citrus, and fresh herbs, then fold the parchment closed and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Think of aromatic vegetables to toss in, like thinly sliced fennel or cucumber. Parboiled vegetables can also be tossed into the bag: artichokes, carrots, or potatoes. It’s fun to serve the papillote on a plate and allow guests to open their own little present at the table.
6. Hot Smoked Salmon
I’m a big fan of smoky flavor in food, and think Jamie Oliver’s Hot Smoked Salmon with an Amazing Chilli Salsa sounds like great fun. Hot smoking fish cooks the fish while infusing it with smoky flavor, and all you need is a makeshift smoker. Jamie uses a cookie tin with wood shavings and herbs (rosemary, sage) in the bottom. He places a bit of wire on top for the salmon fillets to rest on, then pokes holes in the lid and covers the tin. Place the tin on your barbecue over medium heat and watch as it begins to smoke. Even if you live in a tiny apartment, you can use this method to smoke salmon. His hot chilli salsa is a beautiful compliment to the smoke.
7. Roasted Salmon with Black Olive Tapenade
This is one of my favorite suppers for when I’m too tired to cook supper. Individually portioned (skinless) salmon fillets cook in less than 10 minutes at 450 degrees (rub the fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper). While the salmon is in the oven, finely chop black olives, shallot, garlic, basil, and parsley, then stir in a splash of extra-virgin olive oil and a little vinegar or lemon juice. Spoon this rough tapenade over the roasted salmon and you’ve got a beautiful pairing of rich, buttery fish with briny, tangy tapenade.
8. Poached Salmon
Poaching, a technique marked by gently simmering salmon in water, gently cooks the fish, leaving it moist, tender, clean tasting. For a grand gesture, poach a whole salmon, or keep it simple and quick with poached salmon fillets. All you need is a high-sided skillet and a few flavorings for the poaching liquid: carrots, celery, onion, lemon. Serve poached salmon with delicate greens and cucumber-yogurt sauce, or aïoli, the homemade garlic mayonnaise.
9. Broiled Salmon Steaks with Asian Flavors
This recipe for Miso-Glazed Salmon Steaks from Bon Appétit is quick and full of complex, umami flavor. White miso, mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine), rice wine vinegar, minced fresh ginger, and sesame oil are whisked together to form a glaze for brushing over the salmon steaks. After 10 minutes under the broiler the salmon is golden brown and cooked through. Serve with lime wedges, rice, and plenty of sliced scallions. Sautéed shiitake mushrooms and soy sauce would be nice too.
10. Salmon Cakes
Kind of like a crab cake, but a little richer; fatty, flavorful salmon works well formed into a patty and fried in a skillet. Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for Salmon Cakes with Capers and Dill takes only minutes to get on the table- perfect for a weeknight supper. Fish fillets are diced and flavored with capers, dill, chives, tarragon, and lemon zest. The mixture is bound with breadcrumbs and egg, formed into patties, and seared until golden and cooked through. Serve the salmon cakes over a peppery greens salad with a dollop of yogurt and a glass of bubbly for a light supper on a hot August day.