Sous Vide Salmon: Brining is Key
We’ve heard mixed reviews on cooking salmon sous vide, but stubborn salmon lovers we are, we were determined to try it, anyway. We did quite a bit of research before diving in and learned a few things — the most important being that brining the salmon before precision cooking it is the key to success.
Another thing that really surprised us was that different types of salmon yielded quite different results. We tested wild Coho salmon, as well as Norwegian salmon. Both worked very well in the sous vide, but the results were definitely distinct. The Coho was firmer and easier to handle when searing. The Norwegian fillet, though requiring more delicate handling, was more supple and wonderfully salmony.
Both were delicious, and because they were both brined for 30 minutes before they went into the sous vide, they didn’t require any additional seasoning.
Keep reading for the perfect sous vide salmon, as well as recipes for Lemon-Dill Creme Fraiche and Chilled Cucumber Salad to go with it.
Salmon with Lemon-Dill Creme Fraiche
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Temp: 125°F (52°C) for medium-rare, or 135°F (57°C) for medium.
Finishing step: For crispy skin, pan sear in olive oil over high heat
2 6-ounce salmon fillets, skinned, and pin bones removed
¼ cup kosher salt
1 quart ice water
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the brine, whisk the kosher salt into the ice water until dissolved. Add the salmon and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to one hour).
NOTE: Brining is an important step in preparing salmon sous vide. The brine keeps the albumen (white bubbly stuff) from leaching out of the salmon, as well as seasons the fish throughout and provides another defense against overcooking.
Set the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 125°F (52°C) for medium-rare, or 135°F (57°C) for medium.
Remove the salmon fillets from the brine and rinse with cold water. Pat dry and place each fillet in a separate vacuum bag or zipper seal bag with two tablespoons of olive oil each.
Seal on “gentle” setting, or manually seal in a ziplock bag, removing as much air as possible.
Place the bags in the water and cook for 20 minutes. (If needed, you can leave for an additional 20-30 minutes in the water without any negative effects.)
Remove the bag from the water and carefully remove the salmon. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and set aside. The brine should provide ample salt seasoning, but you can season additionally with salt and pepper here if desired.
In a hot non-stick saute pan, warm one tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the salmon and sear until the skin is crispy and golden brown, about one minute. Serve with Lemon-Dill Creme Fraiche and Chilled Cucumber Salad (below).
If crispy salmon skin isn’t your thing, you can remove the skin before cooking or after and serve straight from the water. Alternatively, you can take the bags directly from the water and chill in a water-ice bath. Once the fillets have chilled, you can serve chilled or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Lemon-Dill Creme Fraiche
1 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream or Greek yogurt)
1 lemon, juice and zest
¼ cup loosely packed chopped fresh dill (or chives or tarragon)
Whisk together all ingredients and serve with sous vide salmon. Can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to two days.
Chilled Cucumber Salad
1 English cucumber, sliced in ¼-inch rings
¼ red onion, julienned
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
Toss all ingredients and serve with sous vide salmon. Can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to two days.