Flaky tender butter infused salmon with a savoury soy sauce. This umami bomb is ready in just 15 minutes! If you’re a salmon lover you will be making this pan seared salmon recipe again and again! So tasty with some mixed greens tossed in olive oil or a bed of fluffy steamed rice. Your choice!
Freshwater salmon is one of my favourite types of fish and our family has salmon almost every week in some kind of form. Sushi, baked, pan seared or steamed, there are so many varieties to prepare salmon and most importantly, really quick to cook. In addition, salmon is a lighter and healthier option so it’s a win-win in my house.
Recently, I discovered pan seared butter basted salmon and my daughter is now ONLY requesting this form of preparation. I don’t blame her – it’s absolutely delicious and dinner is ready in 20 mins #win
Preparing the Salmon
One of the most important things is to always choose a salmon filet with the skin on. The skin acts as a barrier to the fish when pan searing and it crisps up really nicely (+presentation points!). Chef Ramsey always recommends scoring the skin to prevent buckling when pan searing, buuuutttt I’ve never had that problem (though if you’re having in laws or friends to impress then make sure you do this step just in case).
The salmon pieces should also be 2-2.5 inches thick for easy flipping. If you’re working with anything bigger you run the risk of breaking the delicate flesh. (-presentation points!)
Cook the salmon on low heat – nothing higher. Once the pan is heated with oil, add the salmon (placing it away from you) and make sure there is a nice sizzle sound as it lands on the pan. This means the oil is hot enough for cooking and won’t making your food unnecessarily oily. Turn down the heat immediately and just let it sit.
Watch the side of the salmon and as it cooks the flesh will turn lighter (bottom up). When you see the color change 2/3 up the way (depending on how thick the salmon is), turn it over and cook the flesh side for 1 minute. It’s like kissing the top and takes 10% of your total cooking time.
You should still see the middle part of the salmon dark in color. Turn the salmon back over skin side down. Be careful!
Butter Basting Salmon
Cut two slabs from a stick of butter (roughly 2 tablespoons) and add it to the pan. Since the heat is low, the butter should melt quickly and foam…but not brown. This is good! Tilt the pan and spoon it over the fish. This will cook the fish further and leaving the centre a beautiful pink and oooh so moist! This step should be about 30 seconds. It’s quick!
Remove the salmon to rest, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on it and add a pinch of salt. Don’t skip the step! It elevates the fish!
Make the Pan Sauce
Using the same pan with all the salmon goodness and melted butter, add some scallions, soy sauce and chicken broth. Let the mixture heat till simmering and thicken it up with corn starch slurry. Finish it off with some sesame oil.
During my recipe development, I was worried the sauce might be too simple, but I was wrong! The flavour left over on the pan from the cooked fish along with the sweetness of the green onions and soy melded beautifully!
Spoon the sauce over your fish and serve with some greens and/or RICE! Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!
Pan Seared Salmon with Butter Soy Sauce
- 8 or 9 inch non-stick fry pan
For Salmon Preparation
- 1 lb fresh salmon filet with skin on norwegian or atlantic
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- kosher salt
- black pepper (optional)
For Cooking Salmon
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon wedge
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
For Pan Sauce
- 2 sprigs green onion cut into 2 inch sections
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
- 2 tsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water to make slurry
- chopped green onion for garnish (optional)
- Cut salmon length wise into two portions – each piece should be less than 2.5 inches thick for easy flipping
- Sprinkle salt, garlic powder and black pepper evenly on all sides of the salmon. Rub in seasonings
- Turn heat on medium. Heat 9 inch non stick fry pan. Add olive oil
- Place salmon skin side down on fry pan. You should hear a satisfying sizzle! Lower heat to low immediately
- Pan fry salmon skin side down on low heat till the pink flesh is pale 1/2 up from the bottom. You should see the skin change from light (cooked) to dark (uncooked). This should take approximately 7-10 mins depending on how thick your salmon piece is. In the meantime mix the corn starch slurry if you haven't already
- Gently flip and cook the top of the salmon for 1 min. The middle of the salmon should still be a darker pink color and the fat shouldn't be rendering out (i.e. white juices coming out)
- Gently flip back skin side down
- Add the 2 tbsp butter to the pan. As it melts down and starts to foam, spoon it over the salmon. Spoon for 1 min
- Remove salmon and put it on your serving plate. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice using the lemon wedge and sprinkle a pinch of salt. Let rest while you work on the pan sauce
- Change heat to medium. On same pan add green onions and fry for 30 secs
- Add chicken broth/water, soy sauce and let simmer till gently bubbling
- Turn heat to low. Add corn starch slurry, stir until sauce thickens (about 1 min). If sauce is too thick add a bit more liquid
- Mix in sesame oil
- Pour sauce over salmon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with green onions
- Serve immediately
The butter sauce was out of this world!! Thank you!
Thanks for the feedback John! I think butter and soy make a great combo too!
This was a great family dinner! I made it with rice. One thing is, I can’t believe what a difference searing the salmon with the skin on makes!
What other sides would you recommend trying?
Hi Marie! So glad to see you noticed the difference skin on makes – it’s a game changer! You can even enjoy this salmon on a bed of salad greens, pasta or quinoa!
My family loves salmon so I’m always looking for simple delicious recipes and this one did not disappoint! It was so easy to make and so tasty. Thanks for this its a keeper!
Thanks so much Sabrina for trying out the recipe! It’s definitely on our weekly dinner rotation too 🙂