This Is What Happens To Salmon When It's Cooked In The Microwave

Stephen King has been terrifying readers for decades with his horror novels, but nothing has haunted people quite like learning his go-to weeknight dinner: a microwaved salmon fillet. On April 19, the formidable author caused quite a stir on social media when he tweeted his now infamous seafood recipe, which consists of wrapping raw fish in a damp paper towel with olive oil and lemon juice before nuking it for 3 minutes. Even chef Jose Andres weighed in, calling the recipe a "horror movie."  Amid the criticism, the "It" writer has stood by his methods, tweeting to his doubters, "Don't knock it if you haven't tried it!"

It should be noted that King isn't the only person who fancies nuking fish in the microwave. On TikTok, lifestyle vlogger Emily Mariko's viral microwaved-salmon rice bowl video has racked up 7 million views. Despite this, Twitter erupted in debate this week over whether microwaving is ever an acceptable way to cook fish. Naysayers claimed that microwaves completely ruin the salmon's texture and flavor, turning it into something comparable to cat food.

Meanwhile, those who sided with King fired off tweets refuting how much the appliance affects fish quality, pointing out that people have been using microwaves to cook with for decades. One 1993 salmon recipe from The New York Times, for instance, calls for microwaving fish in plastic wrap. Another Twitter user who vouched for King's method asserted, "Done correctly it works. Comes out like poached or steamed salmon."

Salmon cooks quickly and evenly in the microwave

Contrary to what folks on Twitter believe, fish is actually one of the few proteins that won't typically develop a nasty texture when microwaved (via Eating Well). Delish explains that this is due to its naturally high moisture content, which allows the fish to "steam" from within. The science backs this up, too.

However, microwaving salmon isn't totally foolproof, either. As per one person's experience shared in The Times Colonist, there is still the possibility of fish splattering all over your microwave if you're not mindful of the heat settings. And if you're not mindful of the time, you also run the risk of overcooking. To avoid this, The Kitchn recommends checking for doneness with a knife after 3 minutes to be safe, or heating in increments.

For those who are curious about how Stephen King's salmon recipe actually tastes, Marnie Shure at The Takeout tested it out and wrote that the fish's texture ended up tasting "fine," save for the lack of seasoning, concluding that while other preparations like oven-baking are preferable, microwaving doesn't render the salmon totally unpalatable. "If all you want is some straightforward protein cooked through properly—and I can think of a lot of times when that's all I need salmon to be—then you save yourself a good 20 minutes (plus pan-washing time) by turning to the microwave. Reheating already cooked fish, on the other hand...well, that's a different story.