Types of salmon
When learning how to bake salmon, it's important to select the right fish. Fresh salmon is often available farmed or wild, with wild carrying the higher price tag. The country-of-origin label should tell you where the fish is from and if it is farmed or wild. Common forms of salmon include fillets, steaks, and whole fish. When cooking fresh salmon or making baked salmon fillets, ask your fish market to skin them for you.
- Wild: Most varieties of wild salmon are available fresh May through October and frozen throughout the year. Wild salmon are typically Pacific coast varieties, such as coho (silver), sockeye (red), Chinook (king), pink, and chum.
- Farmed: Atlantic salmon is generally farmed. Farmed salmon is often more readily available and sold at a lower price.
Prepping the Fish
If frozen, thaw salmon in the refrigerator. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Cut larger pieces of salmon into serving-size pieces. Place in a single layer in a greased or foil-lined shallow baking pan. For fillets, tuck under any thin edges to ensure even baking. Brush the fish with olive oil or melted butter and season as desired.
Tip: Seasoning salmon can be as simple as using salt and ground black pepper, especially if you are planning to serve it with a sauce. Common and simple seasonings are fresh or dried herbs, such as dill, thyme, or minced garlic. Sprinkling seasoning blends like garlic pepper, lemon pepper, or Italian seasoning is also a simple way to boost flavour.
Tip: To skin a raw fish fillet, slide a sharp knife just under the skin on one side. Take skin with one hand and slide the knife between fillet and skin, pointing the knife slightly toward the skin. Remove and discard.
How Long to Bake Salmon
Oven-baked salmon can be tricky; the key is how long to bake it. Knowing how to cook salmon in the oven is essential to mastering basic cooking techniques for weekday meals.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for baked salmon fillets or 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for a dressed fish. Fillets can be baked at a lower temperature, if desired, with an increase in cooking time. Put salmon in oven and bake, uncovered, 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness. Bake a dressed salmon 6 to 9 minutes per 8 ounces (200g) of fish.
To test for doneness, insert a fork and gently twist. The salmon is done as soon as it becomes opaque and begins to flake.
Baked Salmon in Foil
For oven-baked salmon with veggies and some extra flavour, learn how to bake salmon in a foil packet with desired seasonings.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). For each packet, cut an 18x24-inch piece of heavy foil and fold it in half to get an 18x12-inch piece.
2. Place desired vegetables, such as precooked carrots, sliced mushrooms, and sliced green onions, on foil. Place one 4-ounce salmon fillet, cut 3/4 inch thick, on top. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, melted butter, or a splash of dry white wine. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper and, if desired, snipped fresh oregano, dill, finely shredded orange peel, and/or minced garlic. Top with halved orange slices.
3. Bring together two opposite foil edges and seal with a double fold. Fold remaining edges together to completely enclose salmon, allowing space for steam to build. Place the foil packets in a single layer in a shallow baking pan.
4. Bake 30 minutes or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork and vegetables are tender (open packets carefully to check doneness, as hot steam will escape).