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The One Thing You Should Do When You Cook Salmon

- South of Beale/Twitter
South of Beale/Twitter

We asked a restaurant chef for his pro tips.

Salmon is such a healthy choice for lunch or dinner. It is rich in the healthy fats and Omega 3’s our doctors always tell us we should consume more of at every physical. But it can be intimidating to prepare yourself.

Have no fear; we reached out to an expert for a little coaching after we saw this post with a great tip from one of our favorite Memphis restaurants, South of Beale.

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Executive Chef of SOB, Zach Parks, told Southern Living that leaving the skin on when you cook salmon is a must! And he has three good reasons.

“Keeping the skin on you benefit from all those healthy fats in the skin. Omega 3’s help prevent heart attacks, and are found in the salmons fat, which get locked in when keeping the skin on. Second, it adds a nice crunch to the meal and tastes great. Lastly it just looks very good with the overall dish adding another texture to the meal,” Parks said.

If you’re trying to add more salmon into your diet but are not sure how to cook it, Chef Parks has several suggestions that should demystify the fear of cooking fish at home. First, if you have a grill, grilling is a great option.

“Grilling it will give the salmon a nice smoky char that reminds me of grilling fish with my dad when we would go on vacation to Destin, Florida when I was younger. We would go to the local fish market and buy the fish that was caught that morning and grill it that night for dinner,” Parks recalled.

But if you don’t have a grill or it’s just too darn cold to go outside, Chef Parks said that searing the fish in a pan or even roasting in the oven are both quick and easy cooking methods. The key is in the temperature—and of course leaving that skin on! Chef Parks told us that when cooking fish you should cook to a doneness of medium to avoid drying the fish out. The internal temperature should be between 140-145 degrees.

“If roasting in the oven you shouldn’t cook fish over 425 degrees. When pan searing you shouldn’t have the heat high but rather medium to medium-high heat.”

WATCH: Honey-Soy-Glazed Salmon with Veggies and Oranges

Now what about that smell? Yes, when you cook fish at home, it could leave your house smelling a bit like an aquarium. But Chef Parks had a tip for that too!

“Lemon goes a long way with fish. Not just to add flavor but it really knocks out that fish smell that stinks up your house,” he said.

“I think a lot of people shy away from cooking any fish at home, let alone salmon, because they don’t really know how to cook it properly or how to prep it. It can be intimidating to the novice cook. At the end of the day, it’s just cooking and you have to realize that…it’s not a task but rather a hobby and can be a lot of fun,” said Parks.

Go ahead and give one of these methods a try. Pair your salmon with Chef Parks’ favorite veg, asparagus for a satisfying and super healthy meal. Or for a little extra zing, try the side that SOB pairs with its salmon—Brussels sprouts sautéed in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper, bacon, and maple syrup! Delicious!

Or if you’re in Memphis, go check out South of Beale and Chef Parks will cook the salmon for you—so you have an example. Although this Memphis-born editor prefers SOB’s burger! Best in the city, in my humble opinion.

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