Pan Seared Salmon

I have never liked salmon but salmon and I have history. When Paul and I went on our very first date, he ordered salmon and he gave me a taste. I didn’t like it but I liked him, so I nodded sweetly and swallowed it with a sip of my drink.

The tone of this post is definitely going to seem different because unlike my other posts where I share my knowledge or experience with a dish, I am treading on unknown waters here. My approach is going to be from the parameters of a novice.

I have NEVER made salmon. But today, that is going to change. I am going to cook salmon!!

I do know I want to recreate the pan seared salmon we had all those years ago, but I have no experience. Not to worry! I am a relatively experienced home chef and there is always Google. Google can help you find anything… except maybe yourself!

Armed with loads of tips, and a flexy spatula – Google says it has to be flexy as you don’t want to break the fillet. Besides the usual tips such as heating the oil before laying on the fish, I learnt that in order to get the right texture and moistness, I should cook it two thirds of the way skin down before I flip it. Someone else suggests cooking it all the way through with the skin side down.  Since I am aiming for perfect, I have been instructed to keep the temperature between 125° – 140°F so once I have cooked my salmon I will report back here with the accurate temperature that worked for me.

Cooking the fish skin on and skin down is the way to go. The skin protects the meat from the direct heat, allowing it to cook in gentler conditions and remaining more moist. However, you want to ensure that you DO NOT force the skin off the skillet. It should come off willingly and easily.

Alright! I can do this. It’s time to get started on dinner. I have chosen a relatively simple recipe.


Step 1 Marinate the fish – Step 2 – make the sauce Step 3 – cook the side dish/Vegetable Step 4 – cook the steak and Step 5 – assemble my master piece.

So, I start by marinating the salmon steak with maple syrup, brown sugar, salt and a generous sprinkle of black pepper. I apply the marinate all over the steak and pop it into the refrigerator for 15 mins.

Oh No! The maple syrup is for the sauce not the marinate.
Wash the fillet and repeat step 1 minus the maple syrup. At this point I licked my finger.

The marinate is pretty good so feeling more confident I get started on the sauce. 1/4 cup maple syrup with 2 Tablespooons of mustard – I used Dijon, Worcestershire sauce and 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider. Mix until combined. Then I tasted it – Yucks! with a capital Y!

Urgh! I put that sauce aside and started on my side dish. I had planned to saute green baby beans with garlic and salt. That always works!
“Anything in garlic tastes good” is what my FB friend Carmen says.

That done, I am going to make a new sauce, I looked up sauces that go with salmon and I decided on a Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce. Nothing can go wrong with that winning combination of flavours. It turned out delish!!!

Now to saute the salmon steak. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and place the steak skin down. I pressed it down for about 30 seconds with my flexi spatula. That part of the recipe, worked fine BUT I burnt the skin. I think it was the brown sugar that started caramelising too soon. It could be one of two reasons, either the heat was too high or there was too much oil. Anyway, I let it continue cooking, deciding that if the skin got too charred I would just remove it.




The beautifully cooked steak alongside the charred yet delicious skin.
Alright so I did finally get it plated and here is the corrected, adapted and tried recipe.

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
You want to ensure that the dry rub has enough pepper so it is not sweet.
Marinate the salmon steak and refrigerate it for 15 minutes.

Side Dish – Sauteed Baby Green Beans

Baby beans do not need to be cut but you can half them if you prefer.
Saute in olive oil and garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Sauce – Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce

3 cloves Garlic – finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1+3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Saute the garlic in butter until golden brown.
Add in the broth and salt (if the broth is unsalted)
Allow to boil until it reduces to half.
Switch off the flame and add the lemon juice
Finish off with 3 Tablespoons of butter.
Mix and set aside.

To cook the salmon
Place skin side down on a pan heated with 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil.
Press gently so the skin doesn’t curl when it touches the heat.
Cover the pan and allow to cook – you will see the progress as the colour turns from pink to white. As in any other steak, some like it rare and others like it well done. The recommended temperature is between 125° – 140°F and I found 134°F to suit my taste buds.
As I had used too much oil, the brown sugar in the marinate burned too fast but when I tugged it gently, it peeled off quite easily. But TBH, eventhough charred, the taste was amazing!

To assemble the dish, I plated some hot, steamed rice on a plate and drizzled some of the buttery sauce on it. Then I put a neat layer of the beans and topped it with the steak and poured some more of the sauce over it.
For the garnish, I used a lemon wedge.

It was an awesome meal and I am quite sure we will be cooking more salmon in the near future.

Oh and BTW, I also would like to share a more accurate version of the online recipe of the Maple Mustard Sauce.
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
4 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce (or you can use soy sauce)
2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Whisk until smooth. This is my friend’s recipe and the amount of mustard is a lot less drastic than the 2 Tablespoons in the recipe I had.

So, go ahead – have the confidence to try this recipe and I can assure you this recipe will be a keeper.
Happy Cooking!