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Pan Seared Salmon

They say that one of the keys to being a good blogger is consistency.  Well, I’ve got that part dialed in.  Every summer, I consistently stop writing posts.  That counts, right?

Hey, when the salmon are running through our area, my days consist of getting up early and hitting the water for a few hours.  Then it’s off to work, hopefully with some fish & crabs in my cooler.  When the work day is over, I head home and cook some of that fresh seafood for dinner.  After dinner, I sit down with a cocktail, fully prepared to type out a recipe or fishing story …… and I fall asleep.  Then the cycle starts over.  Hey, it’s a formula, but it works for me.  Perhaps not so much for this blog, but it works for me.


A limit of coho Buck and I caught, by fishing where we saw signs, and not just other boats.

It was an interesting summer here in the Puget Sound.  The bait patterns were unusual, and that meant the salmon were often not to be found in their usual hot spots.  Oh, we found our fish, but it was a season of  lessons about not becoming a creature of habit.  It was about following signs of life, following the bait, following our marine electronics, and not just following the fleet of other fishing boats.  Unless of course there are nets flying in said fleet. Most importantly, it was about learning to pay attention to changing situations, and adapt to them … or go home with an empty cooler.

However, there is one habit that I have no intention of giving up.   Despite how much I enjoy experimenting with different seafood presentations – I really should write about that somewhere – I’ve been leaning heavily on my go-to salmon preparation.  Now I could wax on about my many reasons for using this recipe so often: stuff about building a stronger global community, protecting our inland timber reserves, and bringing a song to the hearts of children everywhere.  The more significant reasons though are because the dish is simple, easy, and is damned delicious. Done right, this preparation yields you a perfectly cooked and simply seasoned piece of salmon, with a skin that is a cracker crisp explosion of flavor.

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Being that good, as well as simple and easy, makes it the perfect dinner entree for the busy angler who is dripping with class.
Like I said, it’s my go-to.

Pan Seared Salmon with Crispy Skin

pan seared-5 Let me show you what I mean by simple.  Check out this ingredient list.

  • Skin on portions of salmon filet
  • Unsalted butter, 1 Tbs per portion of salmon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

That’s it.  Ta-DA!

That’s the simple.  Here comes the easy.

Melt the butter in a cast iron or non-stick pan over medium heat.  As you can see, I’m using my green ceramic pan, which works great for sautéing and pan searing fish.

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You might think that to get that crispy skin, you would use high heat, and give the skin side of the fish a good sizzle and char.  However, I’ve found that the best way to give the skin that perfect crispness is to use medium heat, giving the excess fat & moisture in the skin enough time to render out. As the pan is heating up, liberally season the skin side of the salmon.

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Put the salmon in the pan, skin side down, and season the top side.  You’re going to cook the salmon about 95% of the way on its skin side.  It usually takes about 12 minutes until the cooked white edges creep a little up the sides of the filets, and it’s time to turn the fish over.

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As soon as you flip the fish, remove the pan from the flame.  Allow the residual heat left in the pan to finish cooking the fish for about 2 minutes.  Right after you turn the salmon, the skin may still feel a little soft, but it should finish crisping up by the time you are ready to remove it from the pan.

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That’s it, four ingredients, one sauté pan, and the truth.
You need no sauce or other kind of topping.  Just put it on a plate with some vegetable, or on top of a green salad.  It’s perfect.

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