How to Make Perfectly Seared Salmon | The Life Jolie Kitchen Basics

There is nothing better than perfectly seared salmon and I’m going to show you how to get it just right!

There is nothing better than perfectly seared salmon and I'm going to show you how to get it just right! It's so easy to pan sear fish and I'm sharing all my tips and tricks to get that nice crispy outside and skin and perfectly tender inside.

Perfectly Seared Salmon

One skill that I think is important is knowing how to pan-sear a piece of fish, and in this case salmon. There is nothing better than perfectly pan seared salmon. Tender fish cooked to perfection. That gorgeous golden brown sear on the outside. And the very best part is that deliciously crispy skin.

Now I know some people are weird about fish skin. And I get it. I did a poll in my Instagram stories about whether people liked their seared salmon skin side up or down and it was pretty evenly weighted in each direction.

But in this case, the skin is the main event. It’s perfectly crispy and full of amazing flavor in a way that will totally make a believer out of anyone who previously was on Team No Skin.

Pan seared salmon

How to Pan Sear Salmon:

  • Bring the fish to room temperature. It will help the fish cook more evenly. 15-20 minutes out of the fridge should suffice.
  • Dry it off. A paper towel will work very well for this. I pat it down on all sides with the paper towel.
  • Remove the scales. Because no one wants to eat scale-y skin. I use the blade of my knife to scrape off the scales. It’s super easy. Then maybe give it one final pat down
  • Salt the fish. I use coarse kosher salt for this (and pretty much everything). And then I let it sit for a couple more minutes because this will draw out surface moisture. Then give it one final pat down. It will take of a little but of the extra salt and all of that surface moisture.
  • Cover the bottom of a pan with oil. You want your pan and your oil to be screaming hot so you’ll heat the pan and oil over medium high heat until it’s shimmering. Stainless steel or cast iron are ideal but I managed to get a great sear with my non-stick pan as well!
  • Add the fish to the pan. This part is important: make sure it’s skin-side down. The majority of the cooking will happen on the first side and we want to make sure that the skin gets perfectly crispy! Also, make sure you press the fish down for a good 10-20 seconds after it hits the pan, to ensure even searing.
  • Turn the salmon. You’ll do this when about 90% of the cooking is done and then quickly sear the other side.
  • Remove it from the pan. Squeeze a little lemon over the top and sprinkle on a little black pepper if you prefer. Dig in and pat yourself on the back for making a good life decision!

Helpful tools for searing salmon:

  1. Fry pan
  2. Fish spatula or a regular spatula works if you don’t have a fish spatula)
  3. Chef’s knife
  4. Cutting board
How to Make Perfectly Seared Salmon
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Inactive time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

There is nothing better than perfectly seared salmon and I'm going to show you how to get it just right!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 servings
Author: Jessy Freimann, The Life Jolie
Ingredients
  • 2 fillets Salmon
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Black pepper (optional)
  • Fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and let it rest for 15-20 minutes to bring it to room temperature. 

  2. Pat it down with paper towel on all sides to remove moisture.

    Seared salmon
  3. Place it on a cutting board, skin-side up. Using the blade of a knife, scrape it up and down the skin to remove the scales (which will flake off). The scales have a bit of shimmer to them so you can tell if there were any left behind.

    Removing scales from salmon
  4. Sprinkle salt on each side and let it sit for a couple minutes.

    Salmon with salt
  5. Lightly give the fish one more pat down with paper towel to remove any moisture that the salt brought to the surface.

  6. While the fish is sitting with the salt on it, place oil in the pan to cover the bottom of it and heat over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. You can test it by adding a drop or two of water. IF the oil sizzles it's ready. If not wait another minute and try again.

  7. Add the salmon fillets one at a time, skin side down, directing them away from you. Press down on each piece of fish with the spatula for 10-20 seconds to ensure even searing.

    Salmon searing in a pan
  8. Allow the fish to cook most of the way like this, around 4 minutes. You'll be able to see the side of the fish begin to change color, starting at the bottom. When you go to turn it, you'll know it's ready to turn because it doesn't stick. If you find that it's sticking, wait another minute before trying again.

    Salmon as it's cooking
  9. Once it's flipped cook another 30 seconds-1 minutes to an internal temperature of 145 degrees(you can also go a little less if you want it to be more "medium" which is still safe to eat).

    How to sear salmon
  10. Remove the salmon from the pan. Sprinkle with some black pepper if you want and plenty of fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately.

If you tried this recipe please comment and rate it 🙂 I love hearing your feedback and answering your questions!

Other favorite fish recipes:

Oven Baked Tilapia

A close up of a piece of Panko Parmesan Crusted Baked Tilapia.

Lemon Dill Salmon

Three pieces of Lemon Dill Salmon lined up on the diagonal on a sheet pan with Asparagus on either side of it, the center piece of salmon is in focus and everything surrounding it is blurry. Each piece of fish has a lemon round on it.

You can find a full index of my recipes here.

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Let’s keep the conversation going- join my Facebook groupThere is nothing better than perfectly seared salmon and I'm going to show you how to get it just right! It's so easy to pan sear fish and I'm sharing all my tips and tricks to get that nice crispy outside and skin and perfectly tender inside.

There is nothing better than perfectly seared salmon and I'm going to show you how to get it just right! It's so easy to pan sear fish and I'm sharing all my tips and tricks to get that nice crispy outside and skin and perfectly tender inside.

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