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How to Cook a Good Tasting Salmon Steak

by Jon Mohrman

Salmon steaks are sturdy cuts that can be flavored in endless ways. Because salmon is a fatty fish with plenty of natural moisture, it responds well to dry-heat cooking methods. Also, since steaks hold together better than fillets on the grill, take a good opportunity to cook outdoors when the weather permits. Otherwise, use the grill's indoor counterpart -- the broiler. One key advantage steaks have over fillets, especially for novice fish cooks, is their uniform thickness; they cook evenly for less risk of drying out part of the meat. For a particularly flavorful dish, marinate and glaze salmon steaks.

Sunny Day Grilling

Defrost frozen steaks overnight in the refrigerator. For a day-of preparation, thaw it for about an hour in leak-proof packaging in a large bowl of cold water. Dump the tepid water and refill it with new cold water after 30 minutes to keep the temperature low and ward off bacteria. If you're using fresh salmon, take it out of the fridge and rinse it under cold water when you're ready to use it.

Prepare a marinade using some of your favorite ingredients and flavors. For example, soak the salmon in orange juice, pineapple juice, wine, maple syrup or honey mixed with cooking oil and soy sauce for a tasty balance of sweetness and saltiness. You could replace soy sauce with balsamic vinegar in most instances for a different flavor profile. Add complementary seasonings, such as salt, pepper, ginger, cilantro, clove, brown sugar, citrus juice or rind, rosemary or dill. Marinate the salmon steaks for about an hour in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag or a nonreactive baking dish, turning it over once halfway through.

Clean your grill with a scraper, then grease it with cooking oil or nonstick spray. Preheat it to medium-high.

Lift the salmon steaks out of the marinade and let the excess drip off. Set them on a plate and pour the marinade into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil for 5 minutes over medium-high heat to kill bacteria introduced from the raw fish. Turn the heat down to medium-low to simmer and reduce the marinade to a glaze consistency.

Place the salmon steaks on the grill over direct heat, presentation-side down, for 2 minutes. Rotate the steaks 90 degrees and grill for another 2 minutes to create an attractive crosshatch sear pattern. Flip the salmon with a spatula -- don't use tongs, or the steaks may fall apart -- and grill the other side for about 5 minutes. Insert an instant-read thermometer horizontally to confirm the fish have reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook longer as needed, then transfer the fish to a clean plate.

Pour the glaze over the salmon steaks. Spread it into an even layer with the back of a spoon and serve.

Rainy Day Broiling

Thaw frozen salmon steaks overnight in the fridge, or for about 60 minutes in a large bowl of cold water. For the latter, place the fish in airtight packaging, and replace the water after half an hour of defrosting to keep it cold.

Make a marinade with fruit juice, wine, honey, real maple syrup and cooking oil and some complementary seasonings. Add salt or a salty element like soy sauce. Refrigerate the salmon steak in the marinade for about an hour, turning it over once in the middle of the marinating time. Use a sealable plastic bag or a nonreactive dish, such as one made of glass, ceramic or stainless steel, when marinating.

Set an oven rack as needed to position the surface of the salmon steak 4 inches below the broiler. Turn on the broiling function 10 minutes ahead of time to preheat. Line a broiler pan with foil and give a light coating with a nonstick spray or cooking oil.

Transfer the salmon steak onto the lined broiler pan, presentation-side down. Pour the marinade into a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes to ensure safety after contamination by uncooked fish. Then, turn the heat down to simmer the marinade and reduce it to a glaze consistency.

Put the salmon 4 inches below the broiler and cook it for about 4 minutes for approximately 3/4-inch-thick steaks, or 5 minutes for 1-inch or slightly thicker steaks. Take the salmon out and turn it over with a spatula. Spread the glaze evenly over the top with the back of a spoon.

Return the salmon to the oven and broil it for approximately another 4 to 5 minutes, until its flesh is opaque and flaky all the way through. Confirm with an instant-read thermometer that it is cooked to 145 F at its center.

Items you will need
  • Large bowl
  • Marinade ingredients
  • Plastic bag or nonreactive dish
  • Cooking oil or nonstick spray
  • Saucepan
  • Spatula
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Spoon

Tip

  • Store salmon steaks below 40 F and never leave them out at room temperature longer than 2 hours, or out in temperatures above 90 F for longer than 1 hour.

About the Author

Jon Mohrman has been a writer and editor for more than seven years. He specializes in food, travel and health topics. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for English literature and San Francisco State University for creative writing.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images