This pan seared salmon is cooked skin side down first because it can cook longer creating a crispy skin before turning it over. Cook the perfect salmon every time with just a few simple steps Let's make some flaky, garlic and lemon pan seared salmon. Don't even get me started on the sauce!
If you've never pan fried salmon before you're in the right place because I will share with you tips from my kitchen to yours. Besides the fact that salmon tastes so wonderful, is easy to make, quick to prepare it's also so good for our bodies. Yes it's expensive (at least this side of the world it is) there's no hiding from that but if you can substitute some of the meat meals for a salmon meal then do it. Especially for those healthy omega 3 fatty acids and protein that your body will thank you for.
We do try and include salmon more often and for me it's a privilege and lot's of excitement because my husband is more the meat human than I am. I am more the quinoa and veggies type of human. And salmon 🙂 When we do buy it I always make the effort to make sure it's a complete success because you don't want to mess salmon up.
Salmon Preparation and Suggestions
- Buy fresh salmon, we're using skin on.
- The more you dry salmon the crispier the skin will be so dry the skin really well before cooking.
- Take it out the fridge about 15 to 20 minutes before using it. Just before you cook it, dry it with either kitchen paper or clean kitchen cloth. I prefer the cloths because I can place it over the salmon, pat it down and leave it to draw the moisture out. With the paper towel you have to dab it dry or the pieces of tissue stick to the salmon so whichever one works for you. Just dry it.
- Have a non stick pan and ladle ready to use. I use an egg lifter.
- Have the salt and pepper and oil ready to use.
- We ready to pan sear thick crusted salmon.
I know there are some people who don't or can't eat garlic so just skip this part your salmon is still going to be gorgeous 🙂
If using garlic, don't mince it because when you add it the hot pan it will burn instantly. Preferably press it down with the back of a flat knife or thinly slice it.
Season just before you pan sear because if you season way before the salt will break down the proteins in the salmon and draw the moisture out. If you do happen to forget and salt it earlier make sure to dry it again.
How To Pan Fry Salmon
With a combination of oil and butter. A lot more butter than you think so I hope that you're not afraid of fats because our bodies need fat. So we need fat and a non stick pan.
A non stick pan is always top of the list in cooking and I really expressed the importance of that in this Creamy Tofu And Broccoli recipe. Nothing good comes from food sticking to the pan!
Which Side Up?
Suffice it to say the general rule of thumb is to cook your salmon face down first. That means the top side goes down first however it's clear from the image below this is not how I cook my salmon and I'm okay with that.
Here's the thing, this salmon has the skin underneath and after cooking salmon for a very long time I can honestly say it works. For me at least. Starting with the skin side down allows the salmon to cook safely since it does cook a a few minutes longer on this side. Also it makes it much easier to lift and turn the salmon over because the skin has crisped up which allows the spatula to slide under without a challenge.
Be careful when placing the fillet into the pan, it may splatter if there's any water left in. Also, don't take it out the fridge straight into a cold pan it will stick so follow this post and the recipe card below for a delicate and scrumptious salmon fillet.
When Is It Time To Turn The Salmon?
While it's on skin side down in the pan, we don't want to touch, probe or fiddle. We want to leave the salmon to sear itself into an oblivious state of deliciousness and trust me it does this all on it's own so don't stress. All you have to do is look at the thickest part of the salmon and when that part looks a different shade of pink, in about 4 to 5 minutes on, it's time to turn.
The minute the skin side down hits the pan it will start to shrink with the impact of the heat. This is reason why you need to have that egg lifter or spatula ready so that as it hits the pan you go in with the egg lifter and press it down gently. This is almost in a way helping the skin down which in effect helps the skin stay tight and not curl. Let's say it fries more evenly when you help it in the beginning to stay flat. Just a few seconds and let go. Again once or twice while its searing, gently press the lifter on top of it. This will help the skin stay firm amd straight.
Skin Side Up Or Down When Serving?
Once the salmon is in your plate you can serve it skin side up or skin side down that's your choice. It will also depend how you want to eat it and what you're serving it with. I tend to serve it skin side down because the skin is so tender we eat the salmon fillets off the skin. If serving with a sauce you may want to serve it skin side up so it doesn't get soft especially after working so hard for that crispy seared skin 🙂
What Happens To the Sauce In The Pan?
All the fat rendered from the salmon must never be tossed out! Please. That would be sinful because that's where all the flavor drippings lie. That's pure gold.
Season the salmon. I used salt and pepper from the basics collection of Smell & Taste Spices.
Use a non stick pan to cook the salmon you do not want it to stick. Even though we use a good amount of fats in this recipe if your pan is not non stick it just might cause a bit of sticking 🙁
Which brings me to my next point, because it's delicate and costs a bit more than the average dinner don't add too many salmon fillets all at once. The less there is in the pan the easier it is to cook in terms of basting and turning.
And that's where the secret lies in salmon fillets. Can you pan sear without basting? Absolutely! I'm just all about basting everything in an effort to add flavor to flavor.
You have to baste, baste and baste. While it's in the pan scoop the oil with a spoon and keep pouring it over the salmon.
You're pouring the butter and oil drippings over the salmon. Loads of flavor in that and evenly cooked salmon.
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Let's talk a little about if things don't go according to plan. It's always wonderful when things work out but what about when they don't? I told you, you're in the right place.
Let's say for example you take the salmon out a little earlier from the pan than anticipated. Yes, that's happened to me on many occasion simply because I prefer my salmon medium rare as opposed to well done. Whereas my husband wants it all cooked but still tender inside.
I've found a happy medium that still renders the BEST salmon! Read with me....
That lemon butter parsley sauce combination is out of this world delicious!
Don't get anxious if you find that you took it out too soon, calmly turn the stove back on. Remember the salmon must rest for 3 minutes, let is rest because in that time it will finish cooking. If after that, you want it more cooked, turn on the stove and reheat the pan (add clean butter). If the oil in the pan is reasonably clean use it otherwise clean it and use clean butter (don't worry about the oil the 2nd time)
Once the butter has melted and is hot add the salmon back in and baste it as it cooks for a minute and then remove it. That extra minute will fix the problem and everyone is happy 🙂
However if you follow the recipe below you should need no damage control alternative.
You are more than welcome to comment and rate this recipe below.
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Pan Seared Salmon
- 2 salmon fillets
- 1 teaspoon salt & pepper Smell & Taste
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or pressed with the back of a knife just don't mince it, it will burn quickly.
- 60 grams unsalted butter (4 to 5 tablespoons)
- 2 tsps. lemon juice and slices
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tbsps. parsley or dill
- Remove the salmon from the fridge 15 minutes before cooking. Dry the salmon fillets carefully with kitchen paper. They should be dry before cooking.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the pan first and once warm (takes about 2 minutes) add the oil. Once the oil starts to heat it will shimmer to tell you it's hot (about a minute and a half). Add the salmon, one at a time, skin side down. Immediately use a spatula or egg lifter to gently press down on the salmon in the same way you would press on a steak? Just to help it create the connection from the skin to the pan so that it the skin doesn't crinkle or curl once it cooks. Do the same for the other salmon as you add it to the pan. While the salmon cooks it will take about 5 minutes on the skin side down, you can once or twice in that time gently press it down with the lifter and release again. Don't do anything else like trying to turn it until it's seared underneath. The salmon will be easier to turn over once the skin is seared and cooked. Turn it over using a tongs (it's safer) especially if you've not cooked salmon before. I use an egg lifter, it's easier for me, I slide it under the fillet and then gently turn it over helping it over with my other free hand. That's why I said it's safer to use a tongs because you have to be quick, it's hot and you don't want to break it. The minute it's turned, press it gently again with the lifter and leave it to cook. Now it will take about 2 minutes. In those 2 minutes, baste and baste again. (Use a spoon to scoop the oils in the pan and pour over the salmon)Add the garlic and butter and baste for that last minute. (Reserve about a tablespoon of butter for later).
- Remove it from the hot plate but keep basting a couple more seconds.
- In those seconds of basting (while it's off the heat) add half of the chopped parsley into the pan and give it a couple more bastes with the parsley.
- Remove it from the pan and place it on a plate. Let the salmon rest for 3 minutes.
- Pour the lemon juice into the pan with the remaining butter and parsley. Pour over the salmon.
- Serve with sliced lemon and more parsley if necessary.