Cooking School Secrets: Medium Rare Salmon?

I was afraid to taste it. Even though I enjoy poached salmon, this one was rosy pink and wet-looking in the middle. The other students grabbed forks and lined up for a taste while I hung back as long as possible. Eventually, I just took a tiny bit of the lighter colored edge.

Fish is supposed to be cooked all the way through, isn't it? That's what I learned growing up: 10 minutes per inch of thickness and cook until it's flaky and completely opaque.

Old school thinking. Chefs recommend eating salmon medium or medium rare because it has the best flavor when it's flaky on the outside with a moist middle that melts in your mouth.

The new standard for cooking salmon in restaurants is medium. Some menus even say so. One of the students who worked as a server for years said that her older customers almost always send salmon back for more cooking.

Maybe younger restaurant goers are used to sushi. Maybe they trust the new generation of chefs to know what's best. All I know is that, if a server hasn't already asked how you want your salmon cooked, it will happen sometime soon. So be prepared.

I get it. I was behind the times...and uncharacteristically resistant to change. But I promised myself on the first day of school that I would taste everything so I went back for another taste.

One bite made me a believer...and I'll never go back. If you don't like salmon because you think it's dry - or you like it but have only eaten it well done - give medium rare a chance.


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