When you have a sunny weekend with plenty of time to spare, grill salmon on the barbecue for its crusty exterior and smoky flavor. But if you want a fast and fool-proof cooking method with easy clean-up, choose the microwave for your salmon fillets and steaks. Microwave cooking provides the same tender and flaky salmon as poaching, with half the time and effort, making it perfect for a busy, weeknight meal. Serve it simply with salt, pepper, a lemon wedge and a sprinkling of parsley, or with a cucumber-sour cream sauce.
- Water or white wine
- Microwavable glass pie plate or baking pan
- Plastic wrap
- Metal spatula
- 1 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Small bowl
Serve the salmon hot from the microwave, let it cool to room temperature or serve it chilled from the refrigerator.
Experiment with cooking times. Poached salmon is best when it is slightly undercooked.
For salmon with Asian flavors, marinate the salmon for 1 hour in 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and olive oil, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, and 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger. Use the marinade as your poaching liquid.
Ellie Krieger, author of “The Food You Crave,” serves hot poached salmon with a sauce made from 1 tablespoon chopped ginger, 1 chopped shallot, 1 1/2 teaspoons honey, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice mixed with segments from two grapefruits.
The editors of “Best International Recipes” omit the cucumber from their poached salmon sauce and add one minced shallot and 1 tablespoon of minced, fresh dill instead.
Karen Collins, a registered dietitian writing for the American Institute for Cancer Research, recommends wild salmon over farmed salmon because it has more health omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of dangerous PCB chemicals.
Check the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch for ratings about the sustainability of wild and farmed salmon.
Remove the skin from the fillets or steaks. Pull back the skin gently while scraping it away from the salmon flesh with a sharp knife, scraping only the skin and not the flesh itself.
Cover the bottom of a baking pan or pie pan with 1/4 cup of water or wine mixed with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Cover the pan with plastic wrap.
Microwave the salmon on high for about 1 1/2 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Flip the salmon and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes. The salmon is done when it is just beginning to flake.
Keep the salmon in the microwave for an additional two minutes. This resting period allows it to finish cooking slowly and gently.
Mix sour cream or crème fraiche with chopped cucumber, 1 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice and salt and pepper. Spoon a bit of the sauce onto the salmon and serve the rest in a small bowl at the table.
Things You'll Need
- “The Food you Crave”; Ellie Krieger; 2008
- “The Best International Recipes” ; Editors of "Cook’s Illustrated"; 2007
- American Institute for Cancer Research; Experts Offer Tips on Choosing Healthy, Cancer-Fighting Fish; Karen Collins, M.S., R.D.; August 2009
- Monterey Bay Aquarium; Salmon
Susan Lundman began writing about her passions of cooking, gardening, entertaining and recreation after working for a nonprofit agency, writing grants and researching child development issues. She has written professionally for six years since then. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.