Pan-Seared Salmon

While working the line at Bocanova, a Pan-American restaurant in Oakland, Calif. I cooked dozens of scallops and halibut orders every night. Cooking that much fish, and making sure each piece was cooked to perfection with the Chef yelling “not yet”, or “too long” in my ear until I mastered the technique, made me a pro. This recipe/technique will help you master perfectly moist, mouth-watering, delicious salmon.

To achieve a great sear on any type of fish, begin with a very dry exterior and a very hot pan. (I prefer an All-Clad pan for searing fish.) Moisture from wet/damp fish will prevent the fish from getting that nice golden crust. This tip also applies to other types of protein.

The trick (technique) for achieving a moist, flaky interior, is to pull the fish from the heat at the “right” time, and allow the residual (leftover) heat to finish the cooking for you while the fish rests. People often leave fish in the pan until it appears to be cooked through, and the results are dry, chalky fish. Use residual heat to your advantage for the best texture.

This technique is a keeper; share it with your friends and family. If you follow everything I say, you’ll never make a dry piece of fish again. Try it with my fettuccine, and Brussels sprouts recipes for sides—a great match. Happy cooking, and happy eating!!!

~ Chef Kev

Ingredients:

2 lbs. salmon (skin removed)
3 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP canola or vegetable oil
1 TBSP paprika
Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Make sure the fish has sat out at least 10 min, pat dry with paper towel before seasoning.
  2. Season with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, paprika.
  3. Heat 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, and 1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil, get the pan very hot, butter should brown before the fish is added to the pan.
  4. Reduce the heat to med-high, add fish, flesh- (meaning “presentation”) side down. It should sizzle.
  5. Using a fish spatula, take a quick look to make sure the fish has a good sear. Turn the fish, only after it has a golden brown sear (good color). the salmon should have a white color on the side, about halfway up. This also tells you that it’s time to turn it.
  6. Once it’s turned, lean the pan to gather the fat (butter and oil), and baste 6 times with a spoon
  7. Place in a 400 degree oven for 3 minutes.
  8. Remove pan from the oven, place fish on a wire rack or paper towel to rest, pour hot brown butter over the fish immediately.
  9. Allow the fish to rest 5-10 min.

Note: Always remember residual heat (also called leftover heat) is what cooks the fish the rest of the way while it’s resting. The hot brown butter adds an additional layer of flavor, and also helps in the residual-heat cooking process.