Cooking the best salmon after a fishing trip
I get a lot of first-time salmon fishermen on my boat. Once the cooler starts filling with fish, it’s not long until someone asks, “What’s the best way to cook these?”
The best way? You can’t even get people to agree on the best way to cook an egg. Some like scrambled, others over easy or poached. The truth is, there is no “best way,” just different ways.
I’ve had people tell me, “I’d come out fishing with you, but I tried some Great Lakes salmon once and it was awful.”
That really surprised me, but when asked how the fish was cooked, the salmon-haters usually mention grilled, baked or that some “special” recipe was followed.
“Do you bake fish very often?” I ask.
The answer is usually no.
“Maybe you aren’t fond of baked fish,” I'll reply. “Maybe the cook isn’t a very good baker of fish.”
So I’ve developed a pat answer I use when a newcomer asks for cooking tips. First, I answer their question with a question. “What kind of fish do you usually cook and how do you cook them?” Whether their answer is walleye, crappie, sunfish makes no difference. Neither does their preferred recipe, whether it’s pan fried, sauteed or baked in butter.
Cut the salmon fillets into pieces that are about the same size as the fish you normally cook. Use the same breading mix, herbs or seasoning as you would use on your crappie fillets and cook them just as though they are a mess of crappies. The point is, you know how to cook fish that way, you enjoy eating fish cooked that way and I guarantee, you’ll like your salmon just as much or maybe even more. It will give you a basis for comparison. And if you catch a couple more, you will have plenty of meat to try in other, more exotic recipes.