Sous-Vide, the Easiest Way to Cook Salmon

by Anne Maxfield on December 13, 2012

Accidental Locavore Salmon and ArtichokeSince the Accidental Locavore has been home alone, cooking for one recently, the good news is that I get to cook whatever I want, the bad news is that I get to clean up whatever I’ve cooked. The other day, Whole Foods had some nice salmon on sale, so that looked like dinner. I decided to try doing it sous-vide (or in a water bath) and it turned out to be the best and easiest way I’ve ever done salmon! Unlike my friend Zhu Zhu, I don’t have a sous-vide machine, so I usually make due with a vacuum  sealer and my crock pot, but  you don’t really need either. A pot and a Ziploc bag will work fine. It will take you 20-30 minutes to cook your salmon and that’s totally unattended, so go make a nice salad or veg and don’t worry – you can’t overcook the salmon!

This is really more about technique than a serious recipe so feel free to use whatever you’d like to flavor the salmon. Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • Skin-on salmon filets – use one per person
  • Thinly sliced lemon (and dill would be nice)
  • Olive oil
  • Ziploc bag for the salmon or vacuum sealer and bags
  • A pot with hot water big enough to hold the salmon
  • An instant-read thermometer

Lightly coat the salmon with a little olive oil. Add the lemon slices, dill or other flavorings. Seal the salmon with its flavorings with the vacuum sealer. If you’re using Ziplocs, put the salmon etc. in the bag, push all the air out of the bag and seal most of the way. Use one bag for each piece of fish.

Accidental Locavore Salmon Sous VideFill the pot with hot water and heat the water to 120° (the hot water in your faucet may be about that temp). Once the water has reached 120°, remove the pot from the heat. Put the bags with the salmon in the water. If you’re using Ziplocs, the weight of the water will push the rest of the air out of the bag. When it does, finish sealing the bags. Your fish will be done in about 20-30 minutes, depending on the thickness and number of pieces. Remove the fish from the bag, slice off the skin (it comes off much easier after it’s cooked). If you’d like, you can heat up a little butter in a sauté pan, and sauté the salmon for about 3 minutes a side, basting with the extra butter. Sprinkle with lemon, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Writing this, it looks really complicated but trust me, it’s not. It was just to give you the option of doing it without buying a vacuum sealer. The salmon comes out silky and smooth and perfectly cooked. You can add sauces to it, serve it over a salad, it’s just a perfect way to play with adding spices or flavorings to salmon. If you wanted to, you could try different combinations in each bag. The one in my photo is with some Meyer lemon slices I brought back from my friend’s tree in Palm Springs. And best of all? It doesn’t smell!

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