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How to Buy & Cook Salmon

Learn how to buy and cook salmon in this Howcast food video with Chef Brendan McDermott.


When you are looking for salmon in a store or something when you’re buying it, what you're really looking for is something that is pretty fresh. You can either look at the eyes and make sure that they're nice and clear. They may have a little bit of haziness to them, but they shouldn't be opaque. You really want to see them nice and clear and translucent for the most part.

The other thing you want to look for is the gills. The gills should always have some really nice color to them, whether they're a really vibrant red or an orange, it's always really nice. If they really start turning brown or grayish, you really don't want to eat that. It just means that they've been out of the water a little bit.

You can always check by the eyes. Check for smell. Always make sure that, it's OK if they're a little slippery. You just don't want them to be too gooey. You really want them to have a little bit of smoothness to them.

When you're also buying them, if they let you, you might just want to give it a quick smell. You want something that's going to be really nice and fresh, almost no smell at all. If you're getting at something that smells a little bit like low tide or something that just kind of has… if there's any question, there's no question. That's really the best way to think about it. It should be something where you're like, "Wow, that's really fresh and clean."

That's what you are looking for when you are buying salmon. Some ways to prepare salmon, some people just like to bake it. Cut little steaks out of it and throw it right in the oven with some butter, some dill, herbs, whatever you want. Searing it is always great, and also grilled salmon is always really nice.

Salmon is one of those nice fatty skin and thicker pieces of fish, where it does really well on the grill. Just make sure that grill is really clean so it doesn't stick, and hot enough. If you got a really good piece, just searing it and keeping it raw in the center is really, really nice. You can even do sushi with it as well.

When I buy salmon, I like to go to places where I really know we're going to be able to get something that's really fresh. If you have a local fish market or maybe something like we have here in New York called the Fulton Fish Market, they actually get fresh fish everyday in off the boats. It's a really nice way to be able to get really good whole fish.

If you're not really sure, I know there's places in Seattle as well, kind of like Seattle Fish Market, really wonderful, or Pike Market. Otherwise, you might just want to do some web searches and really find out where some local people have some really great fish for you to buy.

Always do your own little tests, and if you start feeling like they're comfortable to buy fish from, you should definitely go for it. Try to avoid getting frozen stuff that's sitting in markets, and you just don't know how long it's been there for.

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