Why It Pays To Cook Salmon Skin-Side Down

Of all the tasty fish varieties out there, salmon is, hands down, one of the very best. Boasting coral-pink flesh with a mild flavor and plenty of richness from all the healthy omega-3 fatty acids present in the fish, salmon is extremely versatile, and can be grilled, poached, broiled, pan-seared, baked, and, of course, cured or smoked — all factors which contribute to the fish being the second-most consumed in America (via MasterClass).

This ubiquitous fish — which can be found on the menus of white tablecloth restaurants, diners, and college dining halls alike — has the potential to turn out moist, flaky, and delicious, but often fails to live up to that potential when it's served overcooked and bone-dry (via Kitchn). Another problem that can plague salmon, whether served in a restaurant or cooked at home? Soggy, flabby skin that hasn't been crisped properly while cooking — a major missed opportunity to crunch down on one of the tastiest, and healthiest, parts of the fish (via Alaskan Salmon Company). And that's why it's a great idea to cook salmon skin-side down.

Cook salmon skin-side down to ensure beautifully crispy skin

Salmon fillets boast a nice amount of meat as well as a generous portion of skin. But all too often, the skin part of the fillet isn't done due justice, served limp and soggy instead of thin and crisp (via Food & Wine). Even moist, juicy flesh under a flabby salmon skin won't make up for this common mistake — and that's where cooking fillets skin-side down comes in.

As explained by Food & Wine, placing salmon skin-side down in a hot pan will immediately start to render the fat out of the skin, leaving it browned and crisp. The outlet notes that many of salmon's beneficial fatty acids are found in the skin, so you're definitely going to want to serve a nice, crisp one and not simply discard a soggy skin. Once the skin has rendered and the fish is nearly cooked, it will release naturally from the pan and you can simply flip it to briefly cook through on the other side, MasterClass instructs. This technique applies to grilling salmon, too.

Other ways to ensure crispy skin? Always dry fillets well with a kitchen or paper towel before cooking — this ensures that when the skin hits the pan or grill, it will start to render instead of steaming (via The Los Angeles Times). Preheating the pan will also help the salmon skin cook without sticking. With these tips, you'll never have to suffer through soggy salmon skin again.