Both varieties of salmon are rich in flavor, incredibly flaky, and naturally leaner than farmed Atlantic salmon. These prized qualities may require you to make minor adjustments to how you cook salmon, as the cook time for wild species and recommended doneness are slightly different than what you’re accustomed to.
WAC’s wild salmon cooking guides include step-by-step guidance on timing and techniques that will help you master essential cooking methods, whether you’re baking, broiling, or pan-frying salmon.
Baking is a hands-off way to cook, so it’s a great place to start if you’re new to cooking wild salmon. An essential skill to master for sheet pan meals or for meal prepping, baking is also one of the most versatile cooking methods — you can pair the fillets with a side of vegetables, or bake them and flake them over toast, a salad, or rice.
One of the quickest, simplest ways to prepare sockeye or coho salmon is to put it under the broiler. After about 5 minutes, a perfectly broiled piece of salmon will have picked up some color but will be delicately flaky through the fillet. This method is great for salmon marinated in a sauce or sugar rub, as the marinade will quickly transform under high heat.
Pan-frying wild salmon is a great way to bring out the beautiful contrast in texture that skin-on fillets have to offer. A masterful sear transforms the skin into a crisp, golden layer, leaving the rest of the fillet tender and flaky — a quick but show-stopping way to serve this fish for a weeknight meal.
Sockeye salmon from Alaska is an especially great choice for grilling, whether you're cooking outdoors on a gas grill or indoors on a grill pan. Sockeys's rich flavor makes it perfect for grilling, and the meaty texture gives it a bit more bite compared to leaner types of fish. However, this salmon grilling technique also works well with coho salmon.
This freezer-to-table cooking method works best with tail cuts of wild-caught salmon, which will bake from frozen quicker and more evenly than center-cut portions. Save this technique for recipes that are prepared with a sauce or topping, as these will help the salmon retain moisture and flakiness as it cooks.
One of the best parts of this cooking method is that it’s incredibly fast: a fillet of wild salmon can go from frozen to perfectly seared in about 15 minutes, crispy skin and all. Knowing how to pan-fry salmon from frozen can keep wild-caught seafood on your dinner menu throughout the week, even when you forget to plan ahead or don’t have time to thaw your fish.
Looking for more cooking tips?