The Quick Trick That Makes Salmon Skin Extra Crispy

"Salmon, salmon, salmon, salmon. I eat so much salmon at these weddings, twice a year I get this urge to swim upstream." So jokes British novelist David Nicholls, referring to the popularity of the fish and its increased presence in restaurants, at special events, and even at home. Especially if wild-caught, it is extremely nutritious — salmon is loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids (good brain food), high in vitamin B (helps hormone balance and turns food into energy), and has more potassium than bananas (helps control blood pressure), which are all important for overall health (via The Roasted Root). According to Treasures of the Sea, it controls the hormones that govern your appetite, and by raising your metabolism rate, can help you lose weight!

This is all well and good, but for most of us, it is the taste of salmon that we value most, and its mouth-watering flavor is why even those who claim they don't love fish will admit that salmon is their one exception. And since the skin holds much of the nutritional benefit and flavor, how salmon is prepared becomes very important, and the demand for crispy skin is high on the list of requirements for a perfectly cooked fish.

Don't skin the salmon skin

Keeping the skin on a salmon is mandatory, and according to Recipetineats, you should always pat it completely dry with a paper towel — or, to be even more effective, place it skin side up in the refrigerator for an hour to further dry the skin. Drizzle the fish with oil and add salt and pepper immediately before cooking, as the salt can pull moisture from the skin, which is not good for the crustiest outcome (per Recipetineats). 

Here's how to achieve the best crispy skin. Place oil in a frying pan, covering the bottom, and on medium-high, place the fish skin down, pressing it with a spatula until it is flat. Cook it for about 7 minutes, flip, and then cook for another 1 ½ minutes. Turn it again for one minute on its skin, and then serve right away, as it will lose some of the crispness as it cools. Interestingly, Recipetineats also recommends serving on a plate with the skin side up, which may not be as aesthetic to serve, but will add to the crispiness.

According to Masterclass, you can also either broil or bake the towel-dried salmon in the oven, as long as you place it skin side up. Scoring the surface by making parallel ¼" cuts down the length and then crosswise not only lets any seasoning penetrate the fish, but it prevents the skin from curling, making the skin extra crispy (per Bon Appetit).

So nurture your brain and excite your palate by crusting up your salmon.