raw salmon fillets on a plate with fresh dill and lemon
raw salmon fillets on a plate with fresh dill and lemon

How to Steam Wild Salmon

June 19th, 2018

Tips and Tricks on How to Steam Fish

Steaming is a healthy, simple, and quick way to cook wild salmon. Once water passes the boiling point, it becomes steam which allows delicate seafood to cook in a fast and gentle manner. One of the best things about steaming salmon is that it will keep the moisture in because you are cooking with a wet heat instead of a dry one.

The Tools You’ll Need

You’ll need a large pot, big enough to hold a steamer. A traditional metal steamer works great. The new silicon steamers work just  fine, too.

Most of the time, the fish won’t stick to to the steamer, but just to be safe, you can add a few drops of oil to the steamer and apply it over the entire surface.

How to Steam

You’ll want to start by bringing about an inch of water in the pot to a boil. Often, cooks will add a few aromatics — such as lemongrass or ginger — to the water, which can help enhance the taste of the fish. Try adding some citrus peel, white wine, bay leaves, carrots or onions to the water, if you like.

Once the liquid in the bottom of the pot comes to a boil, add the salmon to the steamer and be sure to cover the pot with a lid. Allow the fish to cook for approximately 5-6 minutes.  There isn’t a need to flip the fillet because the lid will keep the heat in and cook the top of the fish.

Even if you are using wild sockeye or king salmon, which are generally a vibrant red or orange, you should expect the fillet to turn out a little pale. This is normal, but if you are concerned about cooking the fish all the way through, you can use a food thermometer to make sure the temperature on the inside of the fish hits 145 °F.

Choosing Your Liquid

Once you master steaming with water, why not mix it up with some milk or wine? Bringing the milk to a boil will make for a sweeter tasting fillet; while using wine will bring out the deeper savory flavors.

Start Steaming Your Salmon

To get steaming, here’s a recipe that only calls for a few added ingredients, which won’t overwhelm the natural flavor of the fish.

This recipe fuses sake, honey, ginger, soy sauce and cilantro, big bold flavors that get to shine through the subtlety of steaming process.

And this one, with a steaming broth of lemon juice, white wine (optional), dried or fresh herbs, bay leaf, and garlic plus salt and pepper, is a flavor profile classic.