These Steamed Salmon fillets are delicious! They are moist and succulent with a mild lemon, garlic, and dill flavor and what a fast and easy cooking experience.
I will confess that in my kitchen, steaming has mostly been confined to vegetables. Steamed fish has never appealed to me. My preferred method of cooking salmon fillets is broiling. However, sometimes we all need to just break with the old and try something new.
Steaming is a simple moist-heat method of cooking and has been in use for eons. Steamed Salmon is a healthy and nutritious method to prepare this delicate flavored fish. A one-inch thick salmon fillet will steam in six to eight minutes and will be moist, flavorful and delicious. If you are steaming thicker fillets, add another three or four minutes to the cooking time for every half-inch thickness of salmon.
What Steamer Do You Use To Make Steamed Salmon?
You do not have to own one of those exotic, fancy steaming contraptions or fish poachers that sell for the big bucks.
Do you have one of those stainless steel vegetable steamers? You know the kind that sell for $10 in most kitchen department stores. They are round and can expand or collapse to fit up to a 10-inch skillet or as small as a 6-inch saucepan. They are not just for steaming vegetables.
Since discovering this time-honored cooking method of steam-cooked fish, I have experimented with several types of steamers:
- Asian bamboo stackable steamer
- The small steamer pan that is part of my cookware set
- A regular metal colander set inside my large soup pot
- The above mentioned collapsable vegetable steamer
And my favorite, a small, round, 8-inch metal rack with 1-inch legs. It fits really nicely in my cast iron Dutch oven and it has a heavy lid to keep the steam inside.
How We Prepared Our Steamed Salmon:
First, set up your choice of steamer. The steaming liquid in the pan should come just to the bottom of the steamer unit and should not touch the fish. The amount of water you need will depend on the length of the legs that keep the fish above the water.
You can use other liquids besides water, like broth or wine and it will steam flavor into the salmon. I used plain water but added a grated garlic clove, three thin slices of lemon and a few sprigs of fresh dill. Steaming the salmon should always begin when the water is hot and steaming. The salmon should never be added to the steamer when the water is cold.
With the lid on the pot, the heat was increased to a boil. Then the heat was reduced to low and the water simmered while the salmon was prepared. I removed the skin from the salmon so there wasn’t any barrier and the steam could penetrate the flesh. The skin can easily be removed with a thin, sharp-bladed knife. You can also ask the fishmonger to do this for you.
A salmon fillet that is thick on one end and thin on the other will cook unevenly and the thin end will overcook by the time the thick end is done. There are two options to fix this issue. You can either slice off the thin section and use it for another purpose….or fold it underneath creating an even thickness. I have tried both of these options using the cut-off portion combined with shrimp in a seafood pasta dish as another meal.
Steaming the Salmon:
Spray the steamer with a non-stick oil spray and set it into the pan of simmering water. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper then place them in/on the steamer unit. Add the lid to the pan and keep the pan simmering gently.
Steam the salmon for 5-minutes, then using the tip of a sharp knife, check the salmon for doneness in the thickest part of the fish. It should be opaque on the outside and just a little translucent in the center and gives slightly when you press it. That is medium-rare and perfect!
Once the fish is removed from the steamer it will continue to cook from residual heat so it is okay to remove it before it is completely cooked.
With an instant meat thermometer, medium-rare will read between 120°F and 125°F. If you prefer your salmon more well done, replace the lid and steam for another couple minutes. Between 125°F and 140°F, it’s medium to well-done.
This steamed salmon makes a healthy, delicious meal and we served it with our Lemon-Dill Aioli Sauce, sautéed asparagus and a garden salad. Yum!
If you have not yet ventured into steaming fish, I hope this post will inspire you to give it a try. Happy steaming!
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- 2 - 6 or 7 ounce salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick, skin removed
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 or 3 cups water (see note #1)
- 2 garlic cloves grated or crushed
- 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
- 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh dill
- Lemon wedges, for garnish
- Fresh dill, chopped for garnish
- Set the steamer inside your cooking pan and add enough water to just reach the bottom of the steamer. Remove the steamer and set aside.
- Add the grated garlic, lemon slices and fresh dill sprigs to the water. Place the lid on the pan and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer while preparing the salmon fillets.
- If your salmon has a thick end and a thin end, you can either slice off the thin end and use for another dish or fold the thin end underneath to make it equal to the thick portion. Season the salmon fillets with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Spray the steamer with non-stick oil spray and place inside the pan of water. Check the water level to ensure the water does not touch the steamer. Add the salmon fillets and place a tight-fitting lid on the pan and maintain a strong simmer.
- Steam the fish for 5-minutes, remove the lid then using the tip of a sharp knife, check the salmon for doneness in the thickest part of the fish. It should be opaque on the outside and just a little translucent in the center and gives slightly when you press it. That is medium-rare and perfect!
- An instant meat thermometer will read between 120°F and 125° for medium-rare. Between 125°F and 140°F, it’s medium to well-done.
- When the salmon fillets have reached the desired temperature remove the pan from the heat and transfer the salmon to individual plates and serve immediately, garnished with lemon wedges and fresh dill.
- The amount of water to be added to the cooking pan will depend upon the height of the legs on the steamer you are using.
- There should be enough water to reach just below the steamer. The water should never touch the fish. Be sure there is enough water that it will not boil dry with the cook time.
- A good way to determine how much water to use is to set the steamer in the pan and add enough water to reach just below the steamer then remove the steamer until ready to cook the salmon.
- Always add the salmon after the water begins to steam.
- Adding wine, broth or other liquids will further increase the flavor of the fish.
- You will need a pot with a tight-fitting lid. A cast iron Dutch oven works very well with it’s heavy lid.
- When the salmon is opaque on the outside and slightly translucent on the inside and gives slightly when you press on it.
- Between 120°F and125°F is medium-rare, between 125°F and 140°F, it’s medium to well-done. You don’t want it to reach above 140°f
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Serving Size6 ounces
Amount Per ServingCalories 226 Total Fat 10.5g Saturated Fat 1.5g Cholesterol 75mg Sodium 309mg Carbohydrates 0.2g Fiber 0.1g Sugar 0g Protein 33g