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Pre-Seasoning Meat

I was recently watching the Bon Appetit YouTube channel and one of the "restaurant tips" was to pre-season meat overnight. I have done this for years with steaks and whole chickens to great effect, but the clip made me wonder: can I do this with fish fillets as well? If so, would I do it the same way (liberally salt and leave uncovered in the refrigerator overnight)?


  • Hi Anthony - Thanks for the question! We agree that salting fish before cooking can improve it's flavor and give the fish a firmer texture (and, in the case of salmon, even reduce the amount of albumen, that white protein that can coagulate on the surface). In testing our recipe for Baked Salted Salmon, however, we found that for our 2 lb. piece of salmon we couldn't salt it for more than an hour or two. At that point the fish gets too salty and the texture of the flesh becomes almost spongy. For filets of fish, I would say 30 minutes would be the max and you would likely get the benefits of salting filets after only about 15 minutes. Happy Cooking! Best, Lynn C.

  • With seasoning roasts, I often see "up to 24hrs", in reality, does it make a difference if the meat is seasoned for two or three days? Thanks.

  • With seasoning roasts, I often see "let sit for up to 24 hours." Is this a hard rule and/or are there any issues when letting salted meat sit for a couple of days prior to cooking? Thanks.

  • In her fantastic Zuni Cafe cookbook, Judy Rodgers writes of learning how to salt meats in advance from the Troisgros brothers, arguably some of France's best chefs of the past century. They salted everything ahead, including fish. Rodgers speaks of salting larger cuts of meat as soon as she brings them home from the store. Do be careful with fish. If left too long, you'll be halfway to gravad lox!

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