Salmon belly, also known as “whitefish,” has been on my radar since I first discovered it at an Italian restaurant over 10 years ago.
At that time, I was a full-time pastry chef with no culinary training whatsoever.
So I made due by using what I knew from baking breads and pastries — namely, how much butter or oil should be added to a dough.
And I figured out how long to bake those items based on my experience.
But nothing prepared me for the moment I tasted this whitefish!
It hit all of my senses, including my taste buds. The texture was like eating air and yet so filling.
The aroma was amazing, too. It had an almost floral scent, which only intensified after cooking.
This dish completely blew me away, but unfortunately it’s not easy to replicate at home.
Thankfully, there are plenty of other dishes where you can get your fill without having to break the bank or go through the hassle of purchasing a whole piece of salmon belly.
What Are The Ingredients In A Salmon Belly Recipe?
Whitefish is simply cod fillet that has been cut down the middle. That means half of the fillet will have the skin on one side and the other half will have the skin removed.
What we’re left with is a thin layer of fat and muscle, which makes this type of fish very hearty.
Salmon belly is usually sold vacuum packed, which keeps its moisture intact.
You’ll notice that the flesh looks slightly translucent (like tuna), but it isn’t clear.
If you open up the package, you’ll see that the center is pinkish, while the edges appear gray.
The reason behind this coloration is because these parts contain connective tissue that holds together the layers of muscle.
These areas tend to hold in water, which results in their appearance.
The rest of the fish is dark red.
Since it contains less fat than most types of fish, it tends to dry out faster than others.
So it’s important to keep in mind that the fish won’t always look fresh once you buy it.
How Do You Prepare Salmon Belly For Cooking?
I recommend preparing salmon belly in two separate steps.
First, remove any bones that may be attached to the meat, then season it well before placing inside a pan with some olive oil or another cooking medium.
Once it’s heated, add aromatics such as garlic, onions, or shallots along with herbs like thyme or rosemary.
Seasoning the fish right off the bat ensures that it doesn’t become overly salty.
Then add whatever liquid you’d like to use.
In this case, I opted for white wine to help create a rich flavor profile.
After simmering the fish for approximately 15 minutes, turn off the heat and allow it to cool naturally.
When ready, slice into portions and enjoy immediately!
Alternatively, you could grill the salmon belly instead.
For grilling instructions, check out our post on grilled salmon belly.
What Is The Best Way To Cook Salmon Belly?
The best way to cook salmon belly depends on your preference.
Personally, I prefer to sear the fish and finish it in the oven.
Searing the fish helps to develop a flavorful crust that seals in juices, which allows the fish to cook evenly during the final stage.
Plus, searing also helps to reduce calories significantly.
However, you can easily roast the fish instead.
Just remember to place it directly onto a lined sheet tray and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
For roasting instructions, check out our post on roasted salmon belly.
What Are Some Tips For Making A Delicious Salmon Belly Dish?
As mentioned earlier, salmon belly is extremely fatty.
To counteract this, try adding extra salt to your seasoning mix before putting it on the fish.
Also, consider serving the fish with a side of vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower.
Both veggies pair nicely with salmon belly thanks to their mild flavors and high fiber content.
Finally, don’t overcook the fish. Remember, it takes longer for the protein to cook than the fats.
So if the fish starts to brown, reduce the heat until just barely done.
What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Cooking Salmon Belly?
One thing that often happens to the fish is that the interior becomes mushy.
To avoid this, take care to let the fish cool completely before slicing into portions.
Also, never skip removing any bones or fins from the fish.
They contribute to the overall structure of the fish, so leaving them in will result in a soggy mess.
How Can You Tell If Salmon Belly Is Cooked Properly?
There’s really no foolproof way to know whether salmon belly is fully cooked.
Instead, look for signs of doneness.
On top of being opaque throughout, the fish should flake apart easily.
If you press gently with your finger, the flesh shouldn’t feel firm.
Another sign is the internal temperature.
Ideally, the fish should reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
If it’s still raw, it will continue cooking after you put it back in the oven.
What Are Some Creative Ways To Serve Salmon Belly?
When it comes to serving salmon belly, it’s hard to beat roasted versions.
Simply marinate the fish in a mixture of Greek yogurt and lemon juice, followed by a light dusting of salt and pepper.
Then pop it under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes per inch of thickness.
Try topping the fish with a drizzle of honey, parsley, and pomegranate seeds.
Or toss it with arugula and pine nuts, then finish it off with some balsamic vinegar dressing.
What Are Some Pairing Suggestions For Salmon Belly?
Any whitefish would work perfectly with this salmon belly recipe.
A simple green salad dressed with vinaigrette is ideal.
Or, if you want something heartier, pair it with pasta and lots of Parmesan cheese.
What Are Some Interesting Facts About Salmon Belly?
If you’ve ever eaten canned salmon, chances are you’ve noticed that the label says “fillets” instead of “belly.”
Well, technically, they’re both correct!
Fillets refer to the part of the body containing the head, tail, and ribs.
Belly refers to the thickest part of the fish, which sits between the rib cage and the tail.
Regardless of which term you choose, you need to pay attention to the portion size, as it can vary widely depending on the brand.
According to the FDA, the recommended daily intake for adult men is 6 ounces, whereas women should consume 3 ounces each day.
Where Can I Find More Information About Salmon Belly?
You can learn even more about salmon belly online.
We found several great articles detailing different preparation methods.
Here are three worth checking out:
The Washington Post explains why the meat is so tasty.
Bon Appétit shares five recipes featuring salmon belly.
Saveur offers some helpful advice for buying frozen salmon belly.
- 10 cloves garlic
- 4 chilies
- 4 tablespoons Palm sugar
- 3 tablespoons Fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons Oyster sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1.5 pounds Salmon Salmon belly
- Thai red chilies and garlic cloves should be added to the mortar and pestle. Make a rough paste by pounding. Once the palm sugar has dissolved, add the remaining ingredients—all but the salmon bellies—and well combine.
- Put the marinade in a big basin. Using tongs, add the salmon bellies to the bowl and combine with the marinade. Allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Put the bowl in the refrigerator if you plan to marinate it for a longer period of time.
- For about 2 minutes, preheat the air fryer to 390F. Make a single layer of salmon bellies. As long as the salmon bellies are completely cooked, air fry for 5 to 7 minutes.