With its bold, rich flavor and buttery texture, pink hued salmon is an easy fish to love. Farmed salmon has a rich, fatty texture, while wild salmon has a leaner texture and a more complex flavor, so it mustn't be overcooked. Fresh salmon may be poached, grilled, baked, and seared and is best paired with ingredients that can both highlight and temper its somewhat pronounced flavor. You can buy salmon whole (with head and tail on), a whole skin-on side, cut into fillets (pieces cut from the side), or cut into steaks (horseshoe-shaped pieces cut crosswise to include the backbone). Salmon is also popularly cured (as in gravlax) or cured and smoked. It is also available canned.
Arctic char is the closest substitute for salmon's flavor, texture, and color.
You're most likely to find farmed salmon in your grocery store, but if you keep your eyes open (or ask for it), you might find wild, likely Alaskan salmon, which is available nationwide throughout the year.
Variations in color are natural, but no matter the hue, the skin is the best indicator of freshness: It should be shiny and silver. Also, the flesh shouldn't be "gapping" (flaking apart with apparent holes), a sign of aging. If buying whole salmon, the eyes should be clear, not gray or cloudy, and the gills should be vibrant and bright red. The aroma should be clean and briny, like the sea, but not fishy. If possible, buy your salmon from a reputable fish market.
Look for fish with the skin on (it's freshest) and ask the fishmonger to remove it for you. You'll get even fresher fish if you buy part of a side and cut fillets from it yourself.
To skin a salmon fillet
|Run your fingertips up and down the center of the flesh, feeling for tiny pin bones. If you find any, use a pair of needlenose pliers or tweezers to yank them out.||Beginning at the tail end of the fillet, work the edge of a sharp, long and narrow slicing knife between the flesh and skin. If you don’t have a tail end, start at one corner of the fillet and work your way in until the knife is between the skin and flesh all the way across one short end of the fillet.||With your free hand and using a paper towel for better traction, grasp the just-freed end of skin and pull on it as you run the knife down the length of the fillet in the opposite direction. Keep the knife angled slightly down toward the skin, and use a slight sawing motion if necessary. The skin should come off in one piece.
At home, keep the salmon well-wrapped. If you've bought a whole, gutted salmon, pat it thoroughly dry, wrap it in paper towels, and store it in a plastic bag.
Store any kind of salmon in the coldest part of your refrigerator until you use it. Try to buy the fish on the day you plan to cook it, but if you need to store it overnight, set the fish in its wrapping on a bed of ice in the refrigerator.