Among Pacific species, keta salmon has traditionally been valued less than the richer, fattier king, coho and sockeye. However, it's usually available at a much more reasonable price than those high-profile species, and its leaner flesh and smaller size make it ideal for fast, convenient meals. Many processors and retailers make it even more convenient by offering preseasoned fillet portions, which need only a few minutes' quick cooking to be table-ready.
Baked Keta Fillets
Position one of your oven racks in the top third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arrange the keta fillets on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them generously so the hot air can circulate around them. Mist them lightly with oil, if they're dry-seasoned rather than marinated.
Bake the fillets for 8 to 10 minutes, until the thickest portion of the fillet changes from the deep pink of uncooked salmon to the paler cooked tint. Serve the fillets immediately with your choice of side dishes, or chill them for use in salads and other cold dishes.
Lay the fillet portions on a clean paper towel, and gently blot them dry with another. Try to remove as little of the seasoning as possible. If the fillets are seasoned with an oil-based marinade, skip this step.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in a half-tablespoon of high-temperature cooking oil, such as safflower or grapeseed oil. Place the fillet portions in your skillet, with the less-attractive skin side of the fillets facing up. Don't crowd the fillets, leaving plenty of space between them. If necessary, cook them in batches.
Sear the first side for 1.5 to 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium. After 3 more minutes, flip the fillets. Cook the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve the fillet portions hot with your choice of sauce and side dishes.
- On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals; Sarah Labensky, et al.
- The Oregonian: Northwest Keta Is a Salmon for All Reasons
- Keta salmon can also be grilled, though the fillets are thin and delicate enough to be hard to handle. It's best to grill them on a cedar plank, in the West Coast style, which protects the fillets from breaking and enhances their flavor.
- Keta is leaner than most Pacific salmon, so it can be served with the kind of rich sauces that are ordinarily reserved for white fish. Unlike king or coho, it won't make the resulting dish too fatty and heavy.