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Cooking salmon in the sink…in my kitchen

January 15, 2012

Salmon cooked in the kitchen sinkIn my kitchen this month is….drum-roll…a new sink! Gleaming and shiny; I can’t help a little smile of glee whenever I see it.  Over the top reaction you might think, but as a tenant (as expats we rent our house) I have little say about the fixtures and fittings. The final straw came when our old, white, chipped sink sprang a leak; it’s incredible what a difference this sleek, stainless replacement makes to the appearance of the whole kitchen.

Kitchen sink

For such a pivotal piece of equipment in the kitchen the importance of the sink doesn’t get mentioned very often. I’ve been reading about decluttering recently (a bit of a New Year, turn-over-a-new-leaf activity probably shared with many) and found a popular website aiming to get people to sort out their messy lives by starting with a clean sink.  It’s a fact that everyone always ends up in the kitchen at parties but if there’s a couple or more of you working together, the sink becomes the hub and people find their own role in the washing up hierarchy.

Speaking of washing up, David Lebovitz recently published a very entertaining article about it and Nigel Slater dedicated a whole chapter to this essential activity in his book Appetite extolling the virtues of this comforting ritual (not sure I’d agree).

My new sink

So how about cooking in a sink?  Due to concerns about the chemical content (even in organic farmed fish) I have eaten much less salmon in the last few years.  But I found this video the other day ab0ut ‘sous-vide’ at home and just had to try it.  ‘Sous-vide’ (meaning under vacuum) uses sealed bags in a water bath – in this case it means in a plastic bag in the sink. The video is very precise but I was being distracted by my husband and daughter and cooking something else at the same time, so I just put the salmon in a bag, poured in some olive oil and put it in a sink full of hot water from the tap.  About 15 minutes later I had a look.  It was like magic.  The salmon was cooked perfectly. It was different in texture to traditional poached salmon, a bit less flaky and a little bit firmer.  I would reduce the amount of oil next time as farmed salmon is an oily fish anyway (do you need oil at all?).   Maybe I’d add some herbs, like dill,  in the bag too.

Salmon cooked in the sink, before and after

Before and after

Five things to do with salmon cooked in the sink:

  1. Serve it cold with mayonnaise, iceberg lettuce, a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper
  2. As an open sandwich on rye bread with sour cream and dill (or on blinis).
  3. Flake and combine with mashed potatoes, shape into rounds, dip in beaten egg and breadcrumbs and shallow fry as fish cakes.
  4. Pan fry for a few moments with finely chopped hazelnuts, sesame seeds, ginger and butter to warm through and add flavour.
  5. Add to spiced rice and semi-soft hard boiled eggs for an excellent kedgeree.Poached salmon

Instructions (this can hardly be called a recipe!):

  • Put your boneless salmon steak in a ziplock plastic bag with a drizzle of oil (if serving warm you can use a little melted butter).
  • Smooth upwards to remove as much air as possible and seal the bag
  • Place into a sink filled with freshly drawn water from the hot tap only.
  • Check after 10- 15 minutes (depending on the size of your salmon).  If it is opaque all the way through it is cooked (or use a probe if you have one). Remove the skin (it will peel away easily) and serve hot or cold.

You can’t cook a whole salmon in a plastic bag, but it’s easy to poach if you have a fish kettle or large roasting tin just a little bit bigger than the fish.  Cover the fish with cold water, add salt, bring to the boil, turn off the heat and leave, covered (with a lid or foil), until it has cooked.  Whatever its size, the fish will be perfectly cooked (unless the pan is much too big for the fish, or too small so the fish is fitted in too tightly meaning there isn’t enough water).

I’ve heard you can cook a whole salmon in a sink and in a dishwasher too.

Poached salmonWhat’s in your kitchen in January? Pop over to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial to peep into Celia’s lovely kitchen and others around the world.

Have you ever cooked in the sink? Or ‘sous-vide’? Do you love or loathe washing up? And do you always end up in the kitchen at parties?

  1. January 15, 2012 7:10 am

    A new sink! That’s very exciting! I have a friend who cooks whole salmon in her bathtub, on the same principles as you’ve done here. She claims that the 60C hot water most of us have coming out of our taps is the perfect temperature for this! I’m not a big fan of washing up, but I do like having a clean kitchen to play in, and I can’t really have one without the other.. 😉

    • January 15, 2012 7:34 am

      It was like magic – I couldn’t believe it worked so well Celia. My hot water pressure is pathetic so while the water is hot, the speed it comes out must cool it a bit…however it was absolutely brilliant. Intrigued to try it with other fish now.

    • January 15, 2012 7:43 am

      PS. Thanks for playing along this month! I’ve added your post to the IMK listing! 🙂

  2. January 15, 2012 7:15 am

    Really? I must try this! Thanks for sharing, I would have never looked into sous-vide. Only thought that you could do this if you had a professional appliance. Gorgeous photos too Sally.

    • January 15, 2012 7:35 am

      Thanks d’liteful! You would have to use a professional sous-vide machine if you were cooking meat but the sink method worked like a dream on salmon.

  3. Redawna permalink
    January 15, 2012 7:23 am

    Sally,that salmon looks fantastic! I would love to try and use the sous-vide method.
    It looks very interesting!

    Funny you should mention dishwasher cooking. Talking with my daughters fiance, he just did some salmon in their dishwasher. He said it came out perfect.
    Very neat idea.

    And yes, most parties I have attended end up in the kitchen.

    • January 15, 2012 7:37 am

      I can’t help thinking that it’s quite wasteful in electricity to put on a whole dishwasher cycle for one fish! But someone will probably tell me how economical this is and at least it frees up the cooker if you are preparing food for a big crowd.

  4. January 15, 2012 7:33 am

    Kitchens are the best places to party. Sous Vide is a newly acquired skill of mine, but I haven’t tried it in my sink yet …

  5. January 15, 2012 8:57 am

    Ha Ha – I love this! going to try it myself. Could possibly also cook it in the pool during Dubai Summer…

    • January 15, 2012 9:53 am

      So funny – I can picture my neighbour’s faces as I threw a whole salmon into the pool! They might think I was going to try to resuscitate it 🙂

      • January 15, 2012 2:06 pm

        Haha! You both are so funny 😀

        The photographs are beautiful! I wish there was a way to keep stainless steel sinks scratch-free and sparkling for life.

        Also, I’ve never heard about cooking in the sink before. My Mom loves salmon and I’m sure she’ll love to try this. Thank you for sharing, Sally!

      • January 16, 2012 7:10 am

        Thanks Nadia and Anneli – I am eagle-eyed for every new scratch but it’s inevitable. If you said it was a kitchen party would everyone go into other rooms?!

  6. January 15, 2012 9:20 am

    I don’t like washing up AFTER a meal or party- but I do like cleaning up whilst cooking and before anyone arrives.
    I haven’t cooked in my sink- but I do use cooking tubes that use hot water when I don’t have any more space on the cooktop or oven..
    Your new sink is beautiful- thanks for sharing!

    • January 15, 2012 9:54 am

      Intriguing – I must look into these cooking tubes. Thanks for stopping by, Heidiannie.

  7. January 15, 2012 9:55 am

    love the picture of your sink!!! it looks like a pair of eyes with looong lashes 🙂
    interesting take on sous vide sally!

    • January 15, 2012 10:42 am

      Had to catch it in all its unscratched glory while it lasts!

  8. January 15, 2012 11:11 am

    This is ingenious! I can’t wait to try this. I am assuming this method also ensures an odour free house? No tell-tale signs that you cooked salmon? Congrats on the new sink!

    • January 16, 2012 7:11 am

      No tell-tale signs at all. And you know salmon is usually the worst, especially pan-fried. I promise you my girls did not moan once (fish-haters and teens).

  9. January 15, 2012 12:36 pm

    Brilliant post.
    My hot water is 96’C straight from the tap, which is excellent at blanching tomatoes, but it would kill the fish.

    • January 16, 2012 7:09 am

      Have a big smile on my face from your comment – thanks Tom.

  10. January 15, 2012 1:22 pm

    This looks so clever that I will have to try it! Very unusual! The salmon look perfect.
    (Kitchens are always the place to be at parties, all other rooms pale into insignificance!)

  11. January 15, 2012 2:26 pm

    An interesting way of poaching/cooking salmon! I bet the ish is moist and smooth… Yummy.

    I wish I had such sinks. Mine is small and ugly…



  12. January 15, 2012 4:24 pm

    what a fun post! I love the idea of cooking the salmon in the sink 😉

    • January 16, 2012 7:08 am

      Marta and Rosa – it is fun 🙂 thanks for stopping by.

  13. January 15, 2012 4:31 pm

    What an interesting idea! Have never heard of this. Although memories of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer prepares all his dinner in shower came to mind…but I probably watch too much tv. This would be great for when the gas runs out and I am waiting on a delivery though!

    • January 16, 2012 7:07 am

      Hilarious! Yes you always need a plan B for when that gas bottle moment happens (which is usually right before guests arrive for dinner in my house).

  14. faiza abbasi permalink
    January 15, 2012 5:46 pm

    This is absolutely brilliant as I have one child who LOVES Salmon and another who goes screaming out the door if I cook any kind of fish. Have you ever made salmon pasta, its also delish? I know how you feel about the new sink, it makes a huge difference and the cleanup is more enjoyable. Also wanted to add I made omelettes for a crowd of girls in bags. But I had to put them in really hot water. Each girl had her name on the bag. They came out nice and fluffy.

    • January 16, 2012 7:06 am

      Omelettes sous-vide – wow that’s so intriguing. Bet the girls loved them. I have a similar fish aversion from my girls – it’s the main reason we bought a gas barbecue so that KP and I could have fish without the pain! This method is the least fishy of all 🙂

  15. January 15, 2012 6:10 pm

    Hello, Sally! Nice to “meet” you through Celia’s blog!

    What a fun post this was! I’ve been tempted to bring one of our water baths from the lab to cook sous vide at home, but they are pretty bulky, and would have to be totally decontaminated from all nasty chemicals and bacteria we use them for 😉

    the kitchen sink, for small pieces of fish is a perfect alternative… (loved your photos too)

    • January 16, 2012 7:04 am

      Nice to ‘meet’ you too. You are not alone in wanting to use lab water baths I believe (looking elsewhere on the web). It’s pretty cool.

  16. January 15, 2012 6:13 pm

    I heard about the dishwasher version many years ago before most of us ever heard of sous vide, but never tried it. This one intrigues me more. And no pots, no pans!

    • January 16, 2012 7:03 am

      Absolutely Joan – just bags. I have to say, I wash them up for economy and ecology – however many wouldn’t!

  17. January 15, 2012 6:28 pm

    congratulations!:) I am itching to get something new for my kitchen too but no excuse! Sink Salmon looks good for a chilly evening!

    • January 16, 2012 7:02 am

      I’m sure you’d have something lovely from your garden to go with it too Shumaila.

  18. January 15, 2012 7:19 pm

    A new sink makes the kitchen look shinier. We changed ours last year but I’m still so fond of it that it evokes a smile on my face. Besides I’ve noticed that since we have it the kitchen is always tidy. Although, the thing I miss the most from the work in the hotel (Imean the pastry course last summer) is having someone to wash my dishes 🙂

    • January 16, 2012 7:01 am

      That’s the nice thing about having someone to work with in the kitchen – it shares the load.

  19. January 15, 2012 8:03 pm

    I’m so surprised and delighted by this method of cooking salmon. It looks so easy and effortless. We eat a lot of salmon and I will definitely give this a try. Thanks Sally!

    • January 16, 2012 7:00 am

      Let me know how you get on Magda.

  20. January 15, 2012 8:38 pm

    Oh wow Sally-what a wonderful post!
    Your photos are lovely and I just want to eat that salmon…

    • January 16, 2012 7:00 am

      I wish I could send you some!

  21. January 15, 2012 9:49 pm

    Although we may have such local delights as Rhubarb, fish is not something we have much of (of quality) in the Midlands. Too far from the sea. Hence I don’t eat it much. I can’t bear the way it makes the house smell for days. I would imagine that this does not cause any such cooking smells though. I must give it a try. I love the ‘sink montage’.

    • January 16, 2012 6:59 am

      You are right – no fishy cooking smells at all. Kept my fish hating offspring happy. I’m from Cheltenham so know all about being a long way from the sea!

  22. January 15, 2012 11:26 pm

    Such an amazing idea!
    I love it!
    At first it just tought: ‘whaaaat?’
    But after seeing those pictures: ‘hmmmm’.
    Thanks for showing the technique.

    • January 16, 2012 6:58 am

      Thanks – it is a bit ‘whaaaat?’! It really does work though.

  23. January 15, 2012 11:34 pm

    I have a sous vide machine – love it. I am sure you know you that without exact temperature checks, pathogens can grow in food cooked at very low temperatures. I love the novel idea of cooking in your sink – as long as the temperature is constant and standard: brilliant. Try doing an egg. They are brilliant cooked this way!
    Great post – and I love your sink.

    • January 16, 2012 6:58 am

      How amazing to actually own one! Thanks for raising this point, and yes using a probe is probably the safest way to properly check the salmon which should be as fresh as fresh can be. Poached egg is my favourite way of cooking one so I will definitely try it – what a great idea.

  24. January 16, 2012 4:33 pm

    Thanks for this Sally. You’ve clearly inspired us all. It’s a great post and really gets you thinking. Chefs go on about this method but this makes it seem much more like something you might try.

    • January 18, 2012 6:50 am

      Yes – I can’t say I’ve ever tried something else cooked sous-vide (although maybe I didn’t know!)

  25. January 16, 2012 6:01 pm

    awesome pics of your sink Sally! We do Sous Vide on the stove top with great success. I don’t put any oil in, just herbs and other aromatics 🙂

    • January 18, 2012 6:50 am

      Interesting – I think I would add herbs too next time.

  26. January 16, 2012 11:47 pm

    I don’t know about fish in the sink, but when my bath water is too hot, I tend to come out like a lobster! Oops, sorry, couldn’t resist that one. This sounds so economical… I’m tempted by expensive ‘fish in bags’ from the supermarket, so good to hear how you can emulate this – I think it would be ok to add some (melted) butter and finely chopped herbs to the bag.

    • January 18, 2012 6:49 am

      Ha ha. I’m intrigued by the fish in bags in the supermarket.

  27. January 17, 2012 3:37 pm

    My husband does all of our washing up but I still dream of a dishwasher. The salmon looks luscious! Happy New Year! xx

    • January 18, 2012 6:46 am

      Hope your dream comes true Sarah (but nice to have your husband in the kitchen with you). Happy New Year to you too.

  28. January 18, 2012 1:11 am

    Decluttering is so liberating! I love it. And I love that you have a shiny new sink. What an interesting post! I had heard of ironing a piece of salmon (Auistralian cook Ian Parmenter once did that in a hotel room, apparently), but not cooking it in a sink of hot water. Thank you for sharing!

    • January 18, 2012 6:45 am

      Really?! Off to Google ‘ironing a piece of salmon’…!

  29. January 18, 2012 4:44 pm

    OMG seriously??? Sous vide in the sink?? Awesome – I can’t wait to try this! I so envy your double sink. Our kitchen only has one, although it is a lovely deep one with a particularly graceful tap… I find washing up comforting but I think this is mainly because it appeals to my OCD tendencies of doing things in a specific order. When I see hubby put a greay pot in the sink while glassware is still waiting to be washed, it does my head in ;o)

  30. January 18, 2012 8:01 pm

    Happy New Year Sally! Can’t believe how much I have been missing on!! well to begin with, Congrats on the new sink 🙂

    What a nice post, and how very convenient to cook in a sink 🙂 who doesn’t have one of those lol Sous-vide is the latest cooking trend, and the actual bath machine looks a lot like a sink, so I guess it makes sense, but this is really cool.. Love the pics, and will defo try vacuumed cooking in the sink… Inspiring 🙂

  31. January 19, 2012 5:45 am

    Now there’s a new way to cook, in your sink! Iol

  32. January 20, 2012 1:26 am

    My word – I could try that. First up happy 2012 – I hope you have a rewarding year, with lots of joy and laughter. The salmon looks superb….I might give it a go with some other fresh fish. But first I have to make your zucchini rolls! Take care

  33. January 24, 2012 11:26 am

    I meant to comment on this earlier, but WOW! I know you say it’s easy, but not everyone can just put salmon in a shiny sink and make it look that great. Innovative experiment, though I think I draw the line at using the dishwasher! ha!

  34. January 26, 2012 4:54 am

    Sally, you’re a genius! That is absolutely brilliant, I can’t wait to try it. And oh how I wish I had a new sink. In the meantime I’ll settle for a properly fitting plug for my current one before I try this…

  35. Edward permalink
    January 27, 2012 3:14 pm

    This is a fantastic method! It can actually be applied for every protein. Try this with chicken too (of course with a bit more regulated water temperature). USDA say about 165F (73C) to be on the VERY safe side but I have always had perfect results with 149F (65C)…and never any problem with salmonella:p
    Put some thyme or rosemary and half garlic clove and butter or just some truffle and oil (or truffle oil if real truffle is too hard to get by). This will result in the most tender and succulent chicken you’ll ever have!

    Beef comes out excellent with this method too! No risk of overcooking and just finish with a quick fry in the pan or grill to get that nice caramelized flavor. Your mind will be blown away by the juices! Good luck:)

  36. January 27, 2012 5:56 pm

    Ooh you’ve come over all Heston Blumenthal with your sous vide method! Very impressed, and the salmon looks gorgeous and succulent. Would love to give this a try…if I had a nicer sink 🙂

  37. January 31, 2012 8:28 pm

    I’ve never cooked in a sink, but what a great idea.

  38. January 31, 2012 11:18 pm

    salmon here in Kenya ,is so expensive and just not very good. I used to buy it all the time in the middle east, it was cheaper than chicken sometimes!

  39. February 2, 2012 2:08 am

    Hey now, this is likely a better way to do it. I’ve been cooking salmon in aluminum foil in the oven and this weird beige-y goo always ekes itself out and spoils the overall appearance.

    Congratulations on your new stainless steel double sink. I miss disposals, do you?

    Hopped over from the HH UK post of the month link up.

    • February 2, 2012 8:54 am

      It’s true – you don’t get the ‘goo’ this way. You can always brown it lightly in a pan afterwards for colour – but then there’s another thing to wash up!

  40. February 3, 2012 10:56 am

    Wow, you definitely made me go ‘Hmmm’! I’ve never heard of cooking something in the sink or in the dishwasher. I am fascinated! And I’m always for easy and experimentation 🙂

    Your new sink is beautiful! As expats, we live in rentals too, so I get it 😉

    Thank you for joining Post Of The Month Club! It wouldn’t be the same without you there 😉 XOLaura

  41. February 19, 2012 2:17 pm

    Wow, I think I really will have to try this. I am so surprised it cooked so fast!

  42. The Moscovore permalink
    February 22, 2012 8:48 am

    Really??? I can’t wait to try this! I’m doing (reluctantly) a piece on Dukan Diet food for some loyal readers and this looks like something these reluctant cooks need to try!


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