Pan Seared Salmon

Pan Seared Salmon

You have to try this Pan Seared Salmon.
One of our favorite restaurants in California is Don Giovanni, just north of Napa. Every time we visit the valley, we stop in to enjoy yet another delicious dish off the menu. Years ago, after sampling their salmon, I decided it was time to start making it at home.

Some like to sear fish in an open pan, and some people like to broil it in the oven. I find that pan searing in a covered pan (steam-grilling) produces an unbeatable result. Crispy, yet tender, and oh, so juicy.

We like to pair salmon with a little arugula salad, steamed vegetables, Avocado Remoulade, or Spinach Béchamel.

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 0hr 20mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • 8 ounces salmon fillet (we prefer wild-caught sockeye)
  • 1 cup whole milk
    (Note: To go dairy free replace with 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
Place salmon, skin side down, on a cutting board. Using an extremely sharp, plain bladed knife, divide into 2 portions. As the skin is quite tough, it may take a second stroke to complete the separation. Wipe off any loose scales. In a small dish or plastic bag, soak in milk 20-30 minutes; pat dry with a paper towel. Serrated blades tear fish flesh. Leaving the skin in place holds the fillet together during searing. The casein protein in milk binds to the trimethylamine in the fish flesh, reducing any “fishy” smell.
  • Side of choice
Now is a good time to start any side or sauce.  
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon roughly ground black pepper
For the lemon marinade, in a shallow bowl, swirl all together with your fingertips. Add fillets, turn to coat evenly; gently pat marinade into flesh.

Tip: Cut a lemon in half at the equator; place cut sides down and quarter. Juice with a citrus squeezer held over a mesh strainer to catch seeds.

Avocado oil has a neutral flavor and sports a high smoke point (500°F). Lemon juice brightens the flavor and also reduces the “fishy” smell.
  In a heavy 12-inch ceramic nonstick skillet (choose one with a glass lid) over medium heat, place fillets presentation side down (skin side up) at least an inch apart. Cover and sear until brown and crispy (3-5 minutes). Gently turn fillets with tongs. Promptly cover and sear the second side until the flesh is flaky with an internal temperature of just 125°F (3-5 minutes). Discard skins and plate with side or sauce of choice. To avoid softening the beautiful sear, plate fillets over sauces. Ceramic nonstick delivers an excellent sear and reliably releases delicate fish flesh. Facing the raw, flexible, exposed flesh side towards the heat promotes an even sear on the presentation side. Covering helps melt fat (albumin) that tends to accumulate on sides.