Simple Pan Seared Salmon is our go-to way to cook salmon when we are not in grilling mode. A quick soy sauced marinade provides plenty of flavor, especially when following this recipe to ensure moist, tasty salmon. Read on for more details on how we prepare our salmon as well as our wine pairing for salmon, or click here to jump down to the recipe.
Does this recipe sound for simple pan seared salmon sound familiar? Regular readers of Cooking Chat might recall I recently posted Pan Seared Mahi-Mahi with Orange Soy Marinade, which was really my [successful!] attempt to convert my go-to approach for salmon over to mahi-mahi, which I don’t cook nearly as often.
Can salmon be cooked in a skillet?
This is one of those recipes that is such a basic part of our menu here that I hadn’t thought to post it until someone tweeted awhile back looking for a simple pan seared salmon recipe. More recently, I noticed someone found this recipe be Googling the question, “Can salmon be cooked in a skillet?”. Heck, yeah! I should qualify the “heck, yeah”, by noting I use a non-stick skillet for searing salmon and other fish; as opposed to the cast iron skillet that is a workhorse for so many other recipes here.
Pan seared salmon is a cooking method definitely worth sharing. Ordering salmon a couple times at top-notch restaurants taught me that salmon (and other fish) is at its best when it is cooked just right, and that great care must be taken to avoid overcooking and drying it out. I’d gotten that down pretty well for myself on the grill, but it was a recipe in Barbara Lynch’s Stir: Mixing It Up In The Italian Tradition that taught me the pan-searing method here. Alas, grilling season seems far away still given our early March weather forecast in New England! Learning how to pan sear salmon and other fish is key to enjoying year round in these parts. So here you go, with a word of thanks to Chef Barbara!
The full details are in the EasyRecipe box, but a few pointers with visually aids first. Point one, this does call for a marinade, but a very brief one. Unlike a marinade for something like steak tips, where the goal is to tenderize the meat over an extended period, you don’t want to marinade fish like salmon for long, or it will get too salty. A short soak in it gives it a nice flavor and leads to nice juicy fish.
When you are ready to cook the salmon, get the pan good and hot, and cook the salmon skin side down for 4 minutes. Do not move it during that time! Set that timer for 4 minutes, and the skin should look nice and crispy when you flip it.
The fish cooks skin side down for 2 minutes, then gets finished by briefly cooking in a little extra marinade on the top. That’s how it gets this browning effect on the outside, as the marinade gets a bit caramelized during the cooking. This is a nice, moist fish underneath that browned exterior!
About 10 minutes after the salmon hits the pan, you are ready to serve a tasty meal! The skin will often come off during the cooking, but if it doesn’t, it is easily removed with a knife prior to serving.
Serve the salmon, offering the reserved marinade at the table. Be sure that is the marinade you set aside before combining with the uncooked salmon.
In my opinion, ours didn’t actually need more flavor, having cooked in just the right amount. Our eight year old did request a bit of extra soy. He loves this recipe, one reason we have it so much. When you get an eight year old gobbling up something this healthy and easy to make, you’re going to be cooking it a lot!
Pan Seared Salmon Wine Pairing
Salmon just begs to be served with Pinot Noir; although there usually isn’t begging required to get me to open a bottle of Pinot. I usual go for wild salmon from Alaska, so it seems natural to stay in the Pacific Northwest. Again, not much arm twisting required to have me go for Oregon Pinot Noir. Most recently, we enjoyed this dish with a bottle of 2011 Soter North Valley Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. Definitely a very good wine and nice pairing. This recipe can easily by made on a busy weeknight, but this Pinot is more a weekend type wine by our standards! (don’t recall exact price, $30ish I believe). We often grab the Bouchard & Fils pinot from France or the Hahn pinot from California when looking for a pinot to enjoy with salmon midweek.
- 10 to 12 ozs wild salmon fillet
- ¼ cup soy sauce, preferably lower sodium
- 1 tbsp canola or similar oil
- 1 tsp brown rice vinegar
- tsp honey
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- generous pitch ginger
- Take the salmon out of the fridge before you get ready to put the marinade together so it starts coming closer to room temperature.
- Make the marinade: combine the remaining ingredients, soy sauce through ginger, in a mixing bowl.
- Rinse and pat the salmon dry, then place it in a large bowl or plastic bag. Pour about ⅔ of the marinade over this fish. Set the remainder of the marinade aside. Turn the fish over gently a couple times so that it becomes well coated with the marinade. Let the fish marinate for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.
- After the salmon has marinated for 10 minutes, spray a skillet with cooking oil and heat the pan on medium high.
- When the pan is good and hot, remove the fish from the marinade and gently shake off some of the excess marinade–but you’ll want to keep some to cook in with the fish. Place the fish skin side down, and cook for 4 minutes without moving the fish.
- After 4 minutes, use a spatula to turn the fish over.
- Cook the salmon 2 minutes after turning it flesh side down.
- Turn the fish back to the skin side one more time. Spoon a couple tablespoons of the reserved marinade over the fish after turning it, and let it cook in for 1 to 2 more minutes. At this point, gently cut open the fish at a thick spot to check for doneness. The actual time will depend on the thickness of your fillet, but it likely be done after the 8 minutes total cook time.
- When the fish is cooked, remove from the pan to a plate, and loosely tent with foil. Let it rest a couple of minutes, letting it cook a bit more. The skin will sometimes come off during the cooking process. If it doesn’t, it can be easily pulled off with your fingers or a knife prior to serving.
- Portion the salmon and serve, offering the reserved marinade at the table for extra flavor.
- Serve the salmon, offering the reserved marinade* at the table