How to Cook Salmon Belly

Marinated salmon
Salmon chunks on a fresh salad. (Image: iplan/a.collectionRF/amana images/Getty Images)

Salmon store most of their fat in their undersides, making the meat there some of the most flavorful on the whole fish. While fat on your plate isn't always a good thing, salmon is an exception; additional fat boosts the fish's levels of healthful omega-3 fatty acids. Because salmon is naturally lean, the additional fat in the belly doesn't significantly contribute to additional fat on your belly. If you enjoy the taste of salmon and want a cut with a more distinct flavor, try slow-roasted salmon belly. Poaching salmon belly results in a more delicate flavor.

Slow Roasting

Step 1

Heat your oven to 275 F.

Step 2

Cover the bottom of a baking dish with aluminum foil. While not strictly necessary, the foil makes the dish easier to clean when dinner is finished.

Step 3

Pat the strips or fillets of salmon belly dry and season the fleshy sides with salt and pepper.

Step 4

Place the salmon belly skin side up in the baking dish, taking care not to crowd the pieces, and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on the salmon. Although salmon belly contains fat, the additional teaspoon or so of olive oil you add to the dish makes the skin deliciously crisp.

Step 5

Bake the fish for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pieces. Check the temperature of the interior of the largest piece with a meat thermometer to ensure that it reaches the recommended safe temperature for seafood of 145 F.

Step 6

Remove the fish from the oven and serve it immediately. Unlike other meats, seafood doesn't need to rest before you serve it.

Poaching

Step 1

Bring water, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and lemon juice to a boil. The proportions are a matter of taste, so sample the mixture before you heat it and add the fish, adjusting the proportions until you achieve the flavor you want. Turn the heat down until the liquid remains at a slow simmer.

Step 2

Add the salmon belly pieces to the gently simmering poaching liquid.

Step 3

Poach the salmon for 6 to 8 minutes or until the fish becomes flaky and opaque.

Step 4

Remove the salmon from the poaching liquid with a slotted spoon and serve it immediately.

Things You'll Need

  • Baking dish

  • Aluminum foil

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Lemon juice

  • Olive oil

  • Spices (optional)

  • Soy sauce

  • Rice wine vinegar

  • Meat thermometer

  • Slotted spoon

Tip

Roasting the fish with the skin side up allows the fat under the skin to permeate and flavor the meat. Omega-3 fatty acids may boost your levels of "good" HDL cholesterol while lowering your levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol. Add fresh or dried herbs halfway through cooking if you want to vary the fish's flavor. Dill, whole peppercorns, garlic, lemongrass and thyme go especially well with salmon. Reserve the poaching liquid to cook flavorful rice or potatoes. Roast or poach extra salmon to eat chilled atop a salad for lunch the next day.

Warning

If you try a quick-cooking method with salmon belly, the final result could be unpalatably oily; slow cooking works best with this cut. Keep the temperature low while poaching to prevent the fish from falling apart in the turbulence of a rolling boil.

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