Can You Pan Fry Smoked Salmon?

salmon on plate
Smoked salmon is technically already "cooked." (Image: margouillatphotos/iStock/Getty Images)

Smoked salmon is a tender delicacy that is as versatile as it is tasty. You can use smoked salmon in dishes for any meal from breakfast to a late-night snack. The ways you can include smoked salmon in your menu are as unlimited as your imagination, but certain cooking methods are more effective for preserving its texture than others. Pan frying smoked salmon is an excellent way to heat it and bring out its natural salty sweetness without changing its melt-in-your-mouth softness.

Smoked Salmon Facts

Smoked salmon is raw salmon that was brined in salt water and then smoked. It differs from lox, which is simply brined, though the terms are often used interchangeably. While it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote heart health, smoked salmon should be served as an occasional treat. One 3-ounce serving contains only 99 calories, but it also offers just less than 700 milligrams of sodium, which is a lot. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your sodium intake to just 1,500 milligrams a day, so that serving of smoked salmon uses up almost half of that.

Pan Frying Facts

Pan frying is pretty much the same cooking technique as sautéing. Technically, sauté means “jump” and it refers to what the food does when the chef lifts the pan and moves it in a sudden controlled motion that flings the food an inch or so into the air and flips it over. When pan frying, you turn the food with a spatula or fork rather than tossing it around. Smoked salmon is both light and a bit sticky, so pan frying it is preferable to trying an authentic sauté.

Procedure

To pan fry smoked salmon, it's usually best to add it to a dish as flavoring at the very end of the cooking time. Snip your smoked salmon into pieces about the size of your thumb’s first section and scatter them on top of scrambled eggs with onions or cream sauce for pasta. Let the salmon absorb the heat from the food that is almost cooked rather than letting it come directly into contact with the frying pan. If you have to pan fry salmon by itself, put a little bit of olive oil or white wine in the bottom of the skillet to keep it from sticking or drying out.

Warnings

Smoked salmon is already somewhat dried out from the smoking process. Cooking it too long at too high a temperature can dry it out even more. Because salmon gets unpleasantly tough to chew when it's dried out, don’t walk away from a frying pan that has salmon in it. If the smoked salmon starts to turn very dark or curl up at the edges, it's starting to dry.

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