Crispy Skin Salmon

Crispy Skin Salmon --  A quick sear on the stovetop creates tender salmon with deliciously crispy skin... perfect with your favorite seasonal side dishes or as a salad topper!

Crispy Skin Salmon  ~  A quick sear on the stovetop creates tender salmon with deliciously crispy skin… perfect with your favorite seasonal side dishes or as a salad topper!

 

Do you ever get tired of cooking?  It’s a question I’m asked frequently, and the answer is a definitive yes!

Most days, I genuinely enjoy cooking for so many reasons.  It’s a rewarding creative outlet, a productive stress reliever, and a wonderful way to connect with family and friends.

The bond that my time in the kitchen has allowed me to forge with a rather amazing group of readers is pretty special, too.  Whether chatting about a well-received dinner with a fellow Central Market shopper or emailing an as-yet unpublished recipe to a reader in need, little connections are big motivators for me.

Still, we all have days when the time or motivation to cook is lacking, and divergent schedules too frequently prevent families from enjoying a meal together.  Maybe we’re also a little tired and mildly grumpy because everyone complained about the last home-cooked dinner anyway!

Under these circumstances, cooking can feel like a chore, not a choice.  Suddenly, an activity that has the potential to provide creative stress relief can feel uninspired and taxing.

On nights like these, I gravitate towards a simple, healthy protein that can be paired with a basic vegetable and a roll—or, if luck is on my side, a slice of zucchini bread that I’ve stashed in the freezer.

Everyone in my family enjoys seafood, and the versatility of salmon has made it a dinnertime staple. Welcoming to a wide range of flavors and methods of preparation, salmon is also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and other key nutrients.  As such, regular consumption of this quick cooking fish is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, protect brain health, help fight inflammation, and aid in weight control.

Crispy Skin Salmon --  A quick sear on the stovetop creates tender salmon with deliciously crispy skin... perfect with your favorite seasonal side dishes or as a salad topper!

Grilling, baking, and broiling certainly have merit, but a quick pan sear has the potential to make dinner on a tough night feel rather inspired after all.  The best part?  One need not spend a single minute mixing up a marinade, spice rub, or sauce.  All that’s required is a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a drizzle of oil for the pan.

Crispy skin is the star of the show in this barebones preparation, andhumble seasonings allow the natural flavor of the perfectly cooked fillets to shine.

Crispy Skin Salmon --  A quick sear on the stovetop creates tender salmon with deliciously crispy skin... perfect with your favorite seasonal side dishes or as a salad topper!

The secret tip for extra crispy skin requires five minutes of wait time, which is just enough time to prep a simple side.  On a busy winter night in my house, that might be a quick slaw, steamed broccoli, or even a bag of frozen peas.  In the warmer months, we often enjoy the seared salmon as a protein-rich topper to a variety of veggie- and grain-based salads.

“The fresher the better” is usually the rule of thumb for seafood, but I’ve had excellent results in the last few years with frozen wild sockeye fillets.  For year-round convenience, I keep a supply of the fillets, which have been deboned, flash frozen, and vacuum-packed, in my freezer.  They’re smaller than their farmed counterparts—usually between 1-1/2 and 2 pounds—and the thinner fillets thaw quickly.  The process can be further expedited through a brief soak (still in the plastic packaging) in cool water.

packaged Sockeye

Those who are cooking for one or two will likely prefer a smaller portion.  Conveniently, fresh seafood can typically be purchased in the precise quantity desired.  When buying fresh, you can typically request the exact size piece desired and whether you’d like it from the thick or thin end of the whole fillet.  As an added bonus, if you ask, most fishmongers will remove the tiny pin bones, too.

Crispy Skin Salmon --  A quick sear on the stovetop creates tender salmon with deliciously crispy skin... perfect with your favorite seasonal side dishes or as a salad topper!

In the warmer months, we often enjoy Crispy Skin Salmon served atop a big, fresh salad.  I must be in a Caesar mood, because these two options readily come to mind:

Throughout the colder months, it’s equally satisfying with roasted vegetables and a variety of grains…and atop this recipe for Parmesan Mushroom Polenta.

Crispy Skin Salmon --  A quick sear on the stovetop creates tender salmon with deliciously crispy skin... perfect with your favorite seasonal side dishes or as a salad topper!
Crispy Skin Salmon --  A quick sear on the stovetop creates tender salmon with deliciously crispy skin... perfect with your favorite seasonal side dishes or as a salad topper!

Crispy Skin Salmon
Yield: 4 servings (or as much or little as needed)
A quick sear on the stovetop creates tender salmon with deliciously crispy skin...perfect with your favorite seasonal side dishes or as a salad topper!
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon oil* (or just enough to coat bottom of skillet)
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin on (about 1-inch thick)
  • Sea or Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the skin side with a pinch or two of salt (no pepper at this point), and allow to rest for 5 minutes. The salt will draw more moisture out of the skin. (This translates to crispier skin!) Pat the skin completely dry again.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high (about 6 or 7 on a scale of 10). An uncoated pan or cast iron skillet will allow for a better sear than a nonstick skillet. Test the heat level by letting a drop of water fall onto the skillet. It should sizzle. (This will take approximately 3 minutes for a gas stove, 5 minutes for electric.)
  3. Place the salmon skin side down in the pan. Do not move the fillets. Sprinkle the top of the fillets with a little salt and pepper, and allow the salmon to cook for 5 minutes or until the skin is well browned and the fillets are cooked about three quarters of the way through. Using a sturdy metal spatula, turn the fillets and cook until the fish is done to your liking. This could be a quick 15-30 seconds if you prefer your salmon pink in the center or another minute or so if you like your fish cooked through. (See Notes**)
  4. For maximum crispness, serve immediately with the skin side up.
Notes

*Olive oil may be used, but for this purpose, I typically use oil with a higher smoke point like, avocado oil.  Safflower, canola, grapeseed, and even clarified butter (also know as ghee) are good choices, too.

**The fish will continue cooking once it’s removed from the heat, so I remove it from the pan when the fillets are still just slightly pink in the center. You can typically tell by looking at the side of the fillet, but don’t hesitate to cut into the center if you are not sure. Unlike chicken or steak, juices won’t run out. Alternatively, you can insert a quick read thermometer in the center of the salmon; I aim for a temperature of 120 degrees F for wild salmon and 125 degrees F for farmed.  (The former is typically leaner and tends to dry out sooner than its fattier farmed counterpart.)

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

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Comments

    1. Ann Post author

      I never used to but I tend to eat more wild salmon now, and it’s said that there are more nutrients in the skin. It also tastes better when it’s crispy! If you try, I hope you enjoy.

      Reply
  1. Mary Roach

    It’s 10:37 pm, but this description makes me want to get out of bed and go cook this now! I’ve just this evening run across your site and have already found a dozen healthy recipes. I don’t know how I could possibly thank you enough. Long story short, because of enormous inflammation in my body from lupus, I’ve recently had to completely change what I eat. Your site is going to be an enormous help. (Reference anti-inflammatory diet, The Wahls Protocol. No sugar or other sweeteners except for fruit, no grains, no dairy, no legumes, and no alcohol. Recommended by my pain management MD, five days so far, and pain level went from a level 9 to 0. Sounds incredible, but true.) Thank you sooooo much again for your site. I’m working to keep myself fed and healthy, but couldn’t find any easy recipes. Yours do the trick, and the way you write is entertaining and down to earth.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Oh Mary, your comment made my day! Thank you for that and for sharing some of your background. I’d love to know how you progress as you continue with your new eating plan, and know that I have many more recipes in the works that should work quite well for you. Also, many of my recipes are adaptable, so you can eliminate the cheese or swap milk for a non-dairy option, for example. Without actually crunching the nutritional stats, I really aim to make the recipes as healthy and delicious as possible while keeping in mind that so many of us are short on time and need things to be easy!

      Reply