How Chefs Buy and Prepare the Best Salmon

Steal their secrets next time salmon’s on your menu.

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Shopping for salmon might be more intimidating than you were expecting. Labels like “farmed” and “wild caught” might stress you out, especially if you’ve only been eating canned salmon until now. Here, learn the simple rules Chef Jason Fullilove follows for preparing the absolute best salmon every single time.

First of all, choose wild-caught salmon when you can. In particular, Chef Jason recommends Wild King Salmon, also called Chinook Salmon. Wild-caught salmon live in rough ocean currents, so they get plenty of exercise (they swim upstream, after all!). As a result, they’re meatier than farmed salmon.

However, if wild-caught salmon isn’t an option, look to buy reputable ocean-based farmed salmon. These “farms” are actually set in the ocean, so the salmon eat similar diets and live in similar waters as wild-caught salmon.

Once you’ve purchased the fresh salmon, it will likely come as a fillet with two halves that dip inwards at the center. Cut this in half at the dip to create two separate fillets. This creates two equal portions that will cook evenly—you don’t want to overcook salmon!

As for the salmon skin? You’ll want to leave that on. In addition to adding a crispy texture, the salmon skin is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (that’s the good fat) and other nutrients. (And you don’t need to fry the salmon to get the crispy skin! Try this lemon poppy salmon that’s prepared in the oven.)

When it comes to portion size, try a 6- or 7-ounce serving for dinner. For a lunch-sized portion, aim for a 4- to 5-ounce serving. And of course, don’t forget to fill the rest of your plate with healthy grains and veggies!