may 29, 2020

Pan Seared Salmon

There are many ways to cook fish, and oodles of advice about how do it. Feel free to poach, grill, sous vide and sashimi to your heart’s content, but this method, The Pan Sear, is the one we turn to most often in our home kitchen. It yields pretty-as-a-picture, perfectly cooked salmon filets for us every time (shown above with the gremolata we shared with you last week).
All of the information you need to succeed is in the recipe below. Use salmon filets (not steaks), and opt for center cut and about 1 inch thick at their thickest point. If your filets are thinner, reduce the cooking time accordingly. When we’re lucky enough to have local wild king salmon, that is our preference.
Show off your seared salmon on social media using #TCKatHome, or email us with questions or feedback. We’re here to help.

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Pan Seared Salmon Filets

Author Jen Nurse

This method produces salmon filets with a beautifully bronzed, crisped top. If you are a fanatic for crisp salmon skin, cook your filets skin side down instead, making sure to press on them with a spatula for the first minute of cooking as the skin tends to curl away from the pan more than the flesh side. Either cooking choice will yield excellent results.

Adapted from: Tori Avey at and Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats
Yield   2 servings


2 boneless, skin-on salmon filets, preferably at least 1 inch at their thickest point

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or neutral oil such as grapeseed or rice bran

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Set the oven to 425℉. While it heats, let the salmon sit at room temperature.
When the oven temp has reached 425℉, place a cast iron skillet (or other skillet with an oven safe handle) over medium high heat for 2-4 minutes, until small drops of water sprinkled on its surface sizzle and immediately evaporate. Blot the salmon firmly with a paper towel; the drier the surface, the better the sear. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat. It should shimmer and spread easily in the very hot skillet. Without delay, gently lay the salmon in the oil, skin side up. Leave an inch of space between filets; an overcrowded pan would cause them to steam instead of searing.
Cook the salmon, undisturbed, for 2 to 3 minutes. A golden brown crust will develop on the bottom surface of the fish, visible at the edges where the salmon touches the pan. Resist the urge to peek underneath: trust the crust! It will continue to form in the oven. The less you disturb the salmon during cooking, the better.
Transfer the entire skillet, with the salmon still skin side up, to the hot oven to roast for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filets and your desired doneness. For fully cooked filets that are flaking but still moist, a 1-inch thick fillet usually takes 7 to 8 minutes in the oven and will measure 120-125℉ in the center. Remove the pan from the oven, noting that it will be scalding hot and the oil sizzling!
Using a thin spatula, carefully remove the filets from the pan to prevent overcooking. Serve, crust side up, with a squeeze of lemon or the sauce or garnishes of your choice.