Let me tell you: This was a real journey …
This week, Stephen King – the literal king of all things spooky, unsettling, and downright terrifying – decided to tweet a simple recipe for salmon. Nothing scary about that! Except, well, one thing in particular. (You won’t have a hard time identifying the “questionable” part, I promise.)
Yep, that’s right: Stephen King himself recommended ~ microwaving fish ~ to his 6.6 million Twitter followers. In a twist that’ll surprise absolutely no one, it didn’t take long for the hate to roll in.
I’ll spare you the rest of the responses, but let’s just say they were as critical as you’d expect them to be. BUT, plot twist, King actually doubled down on his “recipe” later this week, emphatically telling his critics not to “knock it if they haven’t tried it.”
Considering the a) intense hate and b) double-down statement from King … curious, I was! As someone who cooks for a living, I feel like I’ve tried juuuust about every method out there for cooking salmon. In fact, I’ve already talked about my favorite method on BuzzFeed … but the MICROWAVE ?! It seemed just chaotic enough to actually give it a try. So, off I went to the grocery store this morning to grab some salmon and cook it at 10 am – since there’s nothing like microwaved fish to get your day started off on the right foot 🥰.
King’s ingredients are undeniably straightforward yet remarkably vague, so I donned my recipe developer hat and made some educated guesses about exact measurements and quantities. He specifies a piece of salmon that’s “not too big,” so after worrying that my 1.3-pound salmon fillet was indeed too big, I cut it into two even pieces. I ultimately cooked a .65-pound salmon fillet, because math.
In terms of the remaining ingredients, King only calls for some “olive oil and lemon juice.” You can probably imagine the abject rage people felt when they realized he didn’t include salt or pepper, so I landed on a simple solution: Instead of making a stink over the omission of some seasoning, I just added some damn salt and pepper. Salt your food regardless, folks!
I sprinkled the salmon with a healthy amount of salt and pepper, then decided to top it with two slices of lemon (instead of just squeezing it over). To finish, I gave it a good drizzle of olive oil – about 2 teaspoons.
The following step specified by King left some folks utterly confused: wrapping the salmon in a damp paper towel. Now I don’t claim to understand the exact ins and outs of how microwaves work, but I’d imagine this step is there to 1) lock in some of the moisture, and 2) keep fish juices from splattering all over your microwave.
When my piece of salmon was tucked in all nice, I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride, and … slid it into the microwave. For 3 minutes exactly – as instructed. (Yes, I watched it all the time out of sheer curiosity and also some palpable fear.)
After nervously perching myself in front of the microwave for 180 of the longest seconds I’ve ever experienced (and panicking over some gentle popping that started around two minutes in), I opened my microwave to find … well, cooked and steamy salmon . No mess! Everyone survived! Including my microwave!
Here’s the moment I was waiting for. I folded back that damp paper towel, fully prepared to reveal a true * monstrosity * that would shake me to my core. In reality, I was greeted with a piece of salmon that, TBH, looked pretty nice!
I checked the internal temperature before diving in, because safety first, and was thrilled that it registered right at 130ºF – exactly how I like my salmon. (I’ll add that while the USDA recommends cooking salmon to 145ºF, cooking farmed salmon to temps as low as 125ºF is generally accepted as OK.) When I finally plunged my fork in … oh my god. When I say this is some of the flakiest, juiciest, most tender salmon I’ve EVER tried, I mean that with every fiber of my being.
Texture aside: When it comes to taste, this is not going to be the most flavorful piece of salmon you’ve ever tasted, but I don’t think that matters. IT’S THREE-MINUTE SALMON, PEOPLE! The flavor profile was as straightforward as the ingredients: a nice hint of citrus from the lemon, a touch of richness from the olive oil, and a subtle bite from the added pepper.
THE VERDICT: Considering the melt-in-your-mouth texture and the fact that this literally took five minutes from prep to “time to eat,” you can keep your fancy salmon recipes. From now on, I’ll be microwaving mine … every now and then at least. I won’t ditch roasted or seared salmon entirely – everything has its time and place – but if I need to put together a SUPER-quick meal without touching the stove (or every other piece of kitchen equipment I own), I’ll be turning to this unexpectedly life-changing recipe.
Anyway. Mr. King, big fan here, and honestly I’m an even bigger fan now. If you ever want to collaborate on a scary cookbook or something, let’s chat. (I’ve read It cover to cover and have thoughts on some Maine-inspired recipes.)