When Salmon is Done: Temperature

  • By: Jack Mancuso

When Salmon is Done: Temperature

The United States Department of Agriculture has a specific guideline as to when salmon is done. It’s considered safe to eat when the meat at the thickest part of the fish is 145F. If a fork is used, it will flake, and its appearance will be opaque.

Having said that, it’s important to remember what’s called carryover cooking. This means that the salmon temperature continues increasing after it’s removed from the heat. So, when the salmon is done to 140F, you can remove it and give it time to rest (5 minutes). By then, the temperature should be 145F.

Shopping for Salmon:

There are four indicators that the salmon you’re buying is “good.”

  1. Color: The fish should have bright flesh (no dulling).
  2. Smell: Even though it’s fish, salmon should not smell overly fishy. 
  3. Skin: Look for shiny skin that has no tears. Discoloration and blemishes mean the fish is past its prime.
  4. Texture: Gently push the fish through the wrapping. If it springs back, it’s good. 

Choices in Salmon

Even when you know the right salmon temperature, there are other factors in your recipe, including the type of fish you chose. There are several types of salmon from which to choose in cooking, grilling, deep frying, or baking

Atlantic Salmon is a popular fish known for its tender texture and mild flavor. It can be used in all manner of cooking, including broiling, searing, and grilling. It is great for salmon burgers and my smoked salmon burnt ends.

Coho Salmon is another mild-flavored fish with a firm texture. Like Atlantic Salmon, it’s very versatile. You can bake it, pan-sear it, or turn it into honey garlic salmon for a real treat.

King Salmon: If you’re looking for salmon with a buttery texture, King Salmon is the ideal choice. It’s excellent for salmon steaks, chowders, or salmon pasta.

Pink Salmon: This fish appears in dishes that call for salmon flakes, like nuggets and patties. 

Red Salmon: For people who like strong fish flavors, red salmon fits the bill. It’s also a beautiful, rich color. Grilling and smoking are the best cooking methods for this fish. Think cedar-plank salmon or honey-smoked salmon.

PitMaster’s Memo: Great Tips for Cooking Salmon

You can use a meat thermometer to know when your salmon temperature is corrrect. But that’s not the only trick for making great salmon.

For baking, preheat your oven to 400F. Use baking sheets, either oiled or lined with parchment. Depending on the size of your filet, these take about 13 minutes.

When broiling, let your broiler come up to full temperature. The fish will only take about 5 minutes to reach doneness.

If you grill it, oil the grates and use medium-high heat. Skin side down first, then flip - five minutes on each side. 

For pan searing, I recommend medium-high heat with butter. As with grilling, start with the skin side down. Sear for 5 minutes per side.

Cuso Seasonings that are Great with Salmon

I have assembled the best natural ingredients to make mouthwatering seasoning for various foods. Here are a few that will marry with salmon well.

  • Dust: A nice smoky flavor profile
  • Gravel: The consistency provides a different texture with a little oomph.
  • Hot Honey: A little sweet and a little heat brightens salmon
  • Lemon Pepper: A tried and true for flavoring seafood
  • Roasted Onion & Garlic: You really can’t go wrong with this combination. Try it in consort with the lemon pepper.


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