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I cook salmon all the time but one issue I'm having lately is burning the skin. I do most of the cooking on the skin, so I know it's going to be little crispy, but I don't want it to look burnt. Overall, the taste is good; it just looks bad and makes my apartment smell like burnt fish. Any advice?

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Salmon's a big deal in my neck of the woods too. Lay the fish skin-side-down (pre-oiled) on a thin piece of foam and poke toothpicks straight through the fillets at regular intervals, (use your judgment), so that each of them comes just barely through the skin. Carefully pick up the fish and lay it into your preheated oil. The points of the toothpicks will separate the skin from the surface of the pan. After a few minutes the skin will have crisped well enough to no longer be at risk of sticking and burning. So for each toothpick press the tines of a fork flat against the fish (with the toothpick in between a pair of tines) and pull the toothpick straight up and out.

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It's probably just a matter of regulating the heat.

Here is a quickie paragraph that tells of a reliable method. The only thing I would say different is to oil the fish, not the pan.

From Food & Wine

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Four 6-ounce skinless center-cut pieces of salmon fillet, about 1 1/4 inches thick
  • Scant 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Set a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When a drop of water skitters on the surface, after about 3 minutes, add the oil. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly and heat until the oil is almost smoking, about 30 seconds. Season the salmon with the salt and pepper and add to the skillet, skinned side up. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn the salmon, lower the heat to moderate and sear until just cooked, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

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It's easier to just remove the skin. Cook the skinless salmon as normal, and put the skin separately into the oven. Placing an oven-proof glass dish on top will keep the pieces of skin flat as they cook. Alternatively, you can thread a pre-soaked bamboo skewer (so it doesn't burn) through their ends to get them to mostly lie flat. They can crisp up beautifully, without compromising your fillet, and your fillet can cook beautifully, without compromising your skin.

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