Salmon fillets are one of those things I pick up on days when I know I have no time or energy to cook. You know, the sort of days when you are more likely to open the drawer of takeout menus and crack open a bottle of wine rather than stand over the stove top and cook from fresh yourself.
Normally, I grill my fillets for a mere 7 minutes and they come out crisp on the outside and soft and just cooked through to the centre, exactly the way I Hungry Hubby and I love them. But the Instant Pot turns out to be a bit of a game changer for cooking salmon fillets to perfection.
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To convince myself that it would work to cook a fillet of salmon in the pressure cooker without drying it out, overcooking it and rendering it unpleasant to eat, I started by trying them plain cooked on Manual and then on Steam, without any seasonings or sauces. Both work beautifully in producing a soft, fully cooked and melt-in-the-mouth piece of fish in half the time it takes to grill them.
The Steam function just wins for me, as they come out a little more moist this way. Perfect for serving on a bed of chopped salmon, in much the way you might serve poached salmon but if you ask me, they are all the more flavourful for steaming under pressure rather than bathing in a lightly flavoured stock.
To up the ante in the flavour stakes, you can add a few simple things to inject a little something extra to your fish. Here, I squeezed over some lemon juice, brushed the salmon with chipotle paste and tucked some moderately fat asparagus spears in next to them before programming for a mere 3 minutes.
In a sauté pan on the hob, I cook an onion and a pepper with some chunks of chorizo to serve alongside for a sort-of-Mexican surf’n’turf dinner which is a real winner!
Other serving suggestions:
- Squeeze over some lemon and top each fillet with a knob of butter before cooking. I love this with bulgar wheat – which I “cook” by adding 1 cup of dried bulgar wheat to a bowl and covering by 1cm (half an inch) with boiling water and covering tightly with clingfilm. Season the bulgar wheat with sea salt, black pepper and more lemon juice before serving.
- Squeeze over lime juice, top with a few chopped red chillies and some fresh ginger, finely shredded before cooking. Add some large florets of broccoli or a small whole head tucked in beside the fish whilst it steams.
- Mix 1 tbsp hoisin sauce with 1 tbsp chilli jam (chelly – get a recipe here) and 1 tsp of soy sauce then brush over the salmon. Serve with steamed rice – if you use slightly larger salmon fillets or frozen ones, you can cook white basmati beneath it, setting the pot to 4 minutes Manual High instead of Steam.
The only downside with cooking your salmon fillets in the Instant Pot as opposed to frying or grilling is that you don’t get any crisp skin but if I’m honest, I can’t ever seem to manage a truly crisp-skinned fish fillet at home so I leave that to the chef when we go out for dinner! But really, that melting texture will more than win you over when you cook your first salmon fillet in the Instant Pot.
- 2 skin-on salmon fillets (ones approx 1.5-2 inches across)
- Optional ingredients:
- Oil spray
- 1 lemon
- 2 tsp chipotle paste
- Handful moderately fat asparagus spears
- Half a head broccoli, broken into large florets
- Start by pouring 1 cup (250ml) water into the Inner Pot then place the trivet in which comes with the IP. I spray on some oil at this point to stop the salmon sticking.
- Place the salmon fillets on the trivet skin side down and if using lemon, squeeze it over and tuck the lemon halves in beside the salmon.
- At this point, you can lay some asparagus spears flat next to the salmon or some large broccoli florets (at least 2 inches across), stalk side down next to the fish to cook at the same time.
- Put the lid on, close the valve and select Steam. Adjust to 3 minutes and when cooked, do a QPR. Do not leave the pressure to come down naturally as it will overcook the delicate fish and any veg you care cooking with it.
- To serve, I retrieve the trivet before removing the salmon with a fish slice so not to break it trying to fish (no pun intended!) it out of the tall Inner Pot! Serve immediately.
If cooking rice with the fish:
- I vary the method slightly by putting 1 cup of white basmati with 1.25 cups water directly into the Instant Pot. I then use my tall trivet and place the salmon on top of that. Use Manual High, set to 4 minutes and QPR when finished.
- I swear salmon fillets are getting smaller by the year! These days, most supermarkets sell them in 1.5-2 inch slices, maximum. Unless they are more than double the thickness, I would keep the cooking time the same.
- The good thing about cooking the fish with a lemon is that it helps keep the seal fresh and prevent fishy odours on your sealing ring. It's worth having a separate sealing ring if you are wanting to cook lots of fish in your IP.
- To keep the sealing ring clean, you can soak it in dilute Milton when finished, cook a halved lemon in 250ml water on Manual High or pop it in the dishwasher. I tend to do all three after cooking anything with a strong odour and I always leave the lid upside down when not using the Instant Pot to allow odours to dissipate.
This is the tall trivet I use for cooking rice below the salmon:
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