5 Mistakes to Avoid When Reheating Salmon

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

It’s long been an argument that fish (and in this case, salmon) is never as good on the second day. Yes, I’ll agree that it’s superior freshly cooked, but just like any other food, there are times when you’ll have leftovers — no matter how hard you try to buy and cook just the right amount. But leftover salmon can actually be just as good if you know the right way to reheat it.

When leftovers happen and you’re faced with reheating it the next day for lunch or dinner, what do you do? There’s a right and a wrong way to face the task. Here’s what you need to avoid to achieve leftover success.

1. Reheating at too high of a temperature.

The biggest mistake you can make when reheating fish is blasting it with too much heat. Dry, overcooked salmon is far from pleasant. Instead, it’s best to reheat it slowly, at a low temperature. Put the fish on a rimmed baking sheet and warm it a 275°F oven for about 15 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 125°F to 130°F.

Follow this tip: Go low and slow when reheating your leftover salmon fillet to ensure that it won’t dry out. Don’t forget to add back moisture with a splash of water.

2. Turning to the microwave.

Not only does this tool apply high heat to the fish and quickly dry it out, but it also unleashes that unfavorable fishy aroma. Has a coworker ever heated leftover fish in the microwave? You know the unpleasantness that comes with that. The oven does a better job of keeping that smell in.

Follow this tip: Forgo the microwave and turn to the oven instead when reheating to reduce those potent fish smells.

3. Forgetting to cover the fish.

Covering the fish loosely with foil when you reheat it in the oven not only acts as secondary protection against smells, but it also prevents the edges from drying out before the middle of the fish is warmed through.

Follow this tip: Loosely cover the fillet you’re reheating with foil before sticking it in the oven to prevent it from drying out and to reduce cooking smells.

4. Expecting it to be as good as the original fillet.

Even if you follow all of the above tips to reheat it properly, a salmon fillet just isn’t going to taste the same the second day. If you’re OK with that, then please proceed. But I encourage you to try repurposing it. Flake the leftover fillet and it suddenly becomes the base for a delicious, brunch-friendly hash or easy, kid-friendly salmon cakes. Both might just prove to be even better than what you had the night before.

Follow this tip: Instead of eating the leftover fillet rewarmed, as is, flake it apart and use it as the main ingredient in a whole new dish.

5. Thinking you can only enjoy it hot.

I know this post is about reheating salmon, but to be completely honest, leftover salmon is even better when it’s left cold. Since salmon already has a strong flavor, it remains flavorful chilled. It’s also nice and firm — even when flaked. Try swapping it in for tuna in a Niçoise salad or adding it to any salad that needs a little protein boost. Or try tossing the flakes with mayonnaise and lemon juice and piling it into a sandwich.

Follow this tip: Don’t forget about simply enjoying leftover salmon cold! It’s a healthy, protein-packed topping for salad or filling for sandwiches.