Alaska Sockeye Salmon Cooking Tips

There are five delicious species of Alaska Salmon: King, Sockeye, Coho, Keta, and Pink. Each salmon species has a unique color and flavor profile.
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Alaska Sockeye salmon has a distinctive rich flavor and a deep red flesh color – color that stays bright even when cooked.  Although it is one of the most abundant of the salmon species it is a small fish, averaging just 6 pounds.  A whole Sockeye salmon side usually weighs 1.5 pounds.  

The following cooking techniques have been developed specifically for Alaska Sockeye salmon.

Outdoor Grilling:

  • Preheat grill to 375ºF.
  • Remove Alaska Sockeye salmon from refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking.
  • Make a foil pan by cutting 2 pieces of wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil about 6-inches longer than the salmon side.  Stack the foil pieces (shiny side down) on a baking sheet; spray generously with cooking spray.
  • Place Alaska Sockeye salmon, skin side down, in the middle of the foil.  Fold the foil sides and ends up (1 to 2-inches) to make a shallow pan around the salmon, leaving at least a 1-inch margin around the fish.  

 

  • Season salmon with salt and pepper or favorite seasoning.  If using a rub, let it rest on the salmon for 10 minutes before cooking.
  • Transfer the foil pan to the center of the preheated grill.  Close grill cover and cook for 10 to 13 minutes.  Do not cover the salmon with foil or close the foil over the salmon. Do not flip the salmon.
  • Cook just until salmon is lightly translucent in the center – it will finish cooking from retained heat.  
  • Remove salmon to a plate/platter and let it rest a few minutes before serving. 

Indoor Pan-Grilling:

  • Remove Alaska Sockeye salmon from refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking.
  • Heat a ridged grill pan over medium-high heat until hot (about 3 minutes).
  • Drizzle a large dinner plate lightly with olive oil.  Swipe each salmon portion through the oil (both sides) and place salmon in pan, skin side up.  To reduce sticking: Move each salmon portion in several small circles as you place it in the pan.  Do not move it again until it is seared/browned.
  • Cook for 3 minutes.
  • Flip fish, season with salt and pepper or favorite seasoning, and cook 3 minutes more.  Cook just until salmon is lightly translucent in the center – it will finish cooking from retained heat.  
  • Remove salmon to a plate/platter and let it rest a few minutes before serving. 

Pan-Searing and Finishing in the Oven:

  • Remove Alaska Sockeye salmon from refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking.
  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • Drizzle a heavy ovenproof skillet (such as cast iron) lightly with olive oil and heat over high heat until oil is hot, but not smoking (about 1 minute).
  • Season salmon with salt and pepper or favorite seasoning and place it in hot pan, skin side up.  If using a rub: Apply seasoning and let it rest on the salmon for 10 minutes before cooking. To reduce sticking: Move each salmon portion in several small circles as you place it in the pan. Do not move it again until it is seared/browned.
  • Turn the heat down to medium-high and sear salmon for 3 minutes.
  • Flip fish and transfer the entire pan to preheated oven.
  • Cook 3 minutes more or until salmon is lightly translucent in the center – it will finish cooking from retained heat. 
  • Remove salmon to a plate/platter and let it rest a few minutes before serving. 

Pan Steaming:

  • Remove Alaska Sockeye salmon from refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking.
  • Bring about 1-inch of water/seasoned liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Season salmon with salt and pepper or favorite seasoning.
  • Add salmon to pan, skin side down. 
  • Cover pan tightly and cook for 4 minutes – use a timer!
  • Cook just until salmon is lightly translucent in the center – it will finish cooking from retained heat.
  • Remove salmon to a plate/platter and let it rest a few minutes before serving. 

Adjust cook time as needed for thickness of fish and cook just until fish is lightly translucent in the center.  It will finish cooking from retained heat.

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