There are few things better than a freshly cooked piece of salmon.
However, unfortunately, quality pieces are hard to come by, so, you don’t want to waste any leftover meat. So, naturally, your first instinct would be to store it inside the fridge.
But, is it possible to eat cooked salmon cold? Luckily for us, cold-cooked salmon has an even better flavor and texture as compared to freshly cooked pieces! Or for us at least! The flavor has become even more concentrated while the texture is tender and juicy!
Today, we will have a look at exactly when you can eat leftover cooled salmon and when it is best to discard it. And, we have included some of the best ways to pair cooked salmon with new dishes and some fantastic leftover ideas!
What Is Salmon And How Is It Prepared?
Salmon is one of the most loved and most delicious types of fish out there! Especially because you can find so many different species and qualities!
Some popular species that are mostly consumed around the world include Atlantic salmon, pink salmon, and sockeye salmon.
But, as we have mentioned, there are loads more. You can also find organic salmon, wild salmon, or farmed salmon, which affects the price of this fish.
This oily fish is often used in many cuisines and are prepared in a ton of ways. It is extremely nutritious and high in fish protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D.
The meat can be eaten raw, partially cooked, or completely cooked. It can even simply be cured using salting or smoking techniques.
Raw salmon is best used when making sushi. It is often cold-smoked to add some flavor while keeping the fresh raw texture of the fish.
But, when the meat is cooked, it helps develop specific flavors and naturally firms up the texture of the flesh while releasing flavorful juices.
Best Way To Cool And Store Cooked Salmon
Now, the risks involved with storing cooked meat versus raw meat are equally high. Lots of people think that once it has been cooked, the immediate danger has passed. But, unfortunately, the dangers have potentially increased!
So, you have to take great care when cooling and storing already cooked meat, especially fish like salmon!
- Once your salmon has been fully cooked (reached an internal temperature of 145ºF) you should allow it to cool at room temperature.
- Once it has cooled, place it inside an airtight container that is free of stains and odors. We recommenced using re-sealable plastic bags or glass containers.
- Make sure you remove as much air out of the bag as possible. This will slow deterioration.
- Place the cooled cooked salmon inside the fridge. Your fridge should run at a stable temperature below 40ºF. Keep the cooked fish away from raw meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy items (including eggs).
Can You Eat Previously Cooked Salmon Cold? Is It Safe?
Without exception, cooked salmon can be eaten cold if it was stored safely and hasn’t expired yet. It is completely safe to eat and it doesn’t develop or release any harmful toxins.
That being said, make sure to check out our section below on when cooled cooked salmon isn’t safe to eat! But, to set your mind at ease, it is only really once it has expired.
Characteristics Of Cold Cooked Salmon
Cooled salmon which has been previously cooked is very tasty. It has an extremely tender texture that is soft yet firm. And, the flavor is especially concentrated once the meat has cooled.
The color of the salmons’ flesh should still be bright but in a more faded shade. The exact color of cooked salmon largely depends on the species you cooked. Usually, cooked salmon has some shade of orange or pink to it.
Once cooked, this color fades even more, but is still uniform throughout the meat.
And, cooked salmon has a neutral aroma. Unless it has been seasoned with aromatics or marinated beforehand.
When Is Cooled Cooked Salmon Unsafe To Eat?
Once your cooked salmon has been stored inside the fridge, it should preferably be used within a day. At the very most, we would keep cooked salmon inside the fridge for 3 days.
Now, even if you have used the very best storage techniques, sometimes salmon will still deteriorate faster than you may think.
This can be affected by what type of salmon it is, whether it has been farmed or caught in the wild, and even how old it was when you bought it.
So, here are some of the best signs to tell when cooked salmon has gone off. You should never eat any cooked (or raw) meats that you suspect of being bad.
- Slimy Texture: One of the first signs that your cooked salmon is bad will be the appearance of a slimy film on the meat. This is an immediate sign of expiring cooked fish. Don’t try and rinse it off or wipe it down – simply toss the meat safely.
- Discoloration: Naturally, once salmon is cooked it gets a faded pink color (sometimes orange depending on the species). And, once it cools, that color becomes even more faded. But, once you start seeing any spotted discoloration or brown spots forming, your meat is bad.
- Mold Growth: Naturally, any sign of mold is an immediate indication that the fish is far too old to eat.
- Fishy Odors: If fish smells fishy, it has gone off. There is no exception to this rule. And, despite popular belief, fish should be relatively odorless. It shouldn’t smell like the ocean.
- Textural Changes: Other than slimy film forming, once your fish starts falling apart, it is starting to reach the point of no return. If this is accompanied by any other sign mentioned above, the salmon is off.
Best Ways To Pair Leftover Cold Cooked Salmon
This depends entirely on how you initially cooked the salmon. Naturally, different cooking methods will create different textures. These textures also change in different ways once cooled.
So, you will have to alter the way you use your cooked cooled salmon accordingly. The below uses are some of our favorites that we regularly use.
And, you can even use leftover salmon! You don’t have to cook and cool the meat specifically for these uses.
Unflavored Cooked Salmon
If you have simply roasted some salmon or poached it, you can easily pair it with some of its natural parings. This includes avocado, lemon, capers, brown sugar, ginger, and cucumber.
The fresh flavors of the salmon will be concentrated, making it even more flavorful. You can create refreshing salads or make an appetizer.
You can even substitute smoked salmon with these unflavored cooked pieces.
Sweet Glazed Cooked Salmon
Salmon fillets are often glazed with a jam or chutney, or marinades in a honey-based glaze. These are exceptionally delicious and balance the salty oily flavors of the fish.
But, these sweeter dishes are also more difficult to use. For these, we would use them alongside sweet ingredients like peaches, citrus, raspberries, strawberries, and balsamic vinegar.
They also pair well with salty ones like feta cheese, Proscuitto, and parma ham.
Cold Cooked Salmon Uses
If you don’t want to eat your cooled cooked salmon as-is, here are some fun ways you can use any leftover meat!
- Make fish cakes using flaked salmon meat. Add some spices to create a delicious flavor profile.
- Make a creamy salmon pasta with a bechamel sauce.
- Make a tasty leftover scrambled egg and salmon dish. You can even make a fritata, omelet, or souffle.
- A fish pate or creamy spread goes great for crackers or slices of bread. And, you can extend its shelf life by adding sweeteners or salt (both are preserving agents).
- Make crispy salmon samosas or spring rolls.
- Make salmon fried rice using leftover salmon and other vegetables.
- Make a salmon soup or bisque. You can even make a delicious broth if you don’t feel like having salmon meat.
- Make a quiche or pie using leftover cooked and cooled salmon. You can even play around with the texture of your baking dish by altering the size of the meat pieces.
Now that we’ve gone over how to use cold cooked salmon, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
Can you reheat cooked cold salmon?
You can reheat previously cooked salmon, but only if it is still safe to eat! First, you can preheat your oven to 275ºF.
Then, cook the salmon for roughly 15 minutes or until it reached an internal temperature of about 125-130ºF.
Is it better to reheat salmon or eat it cold?
It comes down to personal preference. Neither of these is better.
Personally, we prefer eating cooked salmon cold as it (for us at least) has a better more concentrated flavor and tender juicy texture.
Is cold-smoked salmon cooked? Is it safe to eat?
Cold smoked salmon hasn’t been cooked using heat. However, the smoke has in a way cured the meat, making it safe to eat.
Both hot smoked salmon and cold smoked salmon can be eaten raw, without having to be cooked over direct heat.
Is cold-cooked salmon healthier than warmed cooked salmon?
Many people believe that once salmon has been heated it loses nutrients, and then, once it cools down it becomes more nutritious.
Cold salmon is only more nutritious if it hasn’t been cooked. Once cooked, regardless of whether it is warm or cold, it loses nutrients through the evaporation of the meat’s juices (moisture).
This is why cooking techniques like poaching and steaming are healthier than deep-frying and roasting. It retains more moisture and therefore more nutrients.
If you’re on the hunt for some delicious salmon recipes, check out this great video from the folks over at Tasty!
Up Next: How To Reheat A Meatball Sub