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Pan Seared Salmon with Perfect Crispy Skin

Perfect pan seared salmon fillets must have crispy skin, achieving that is not as difficult as you may think & it takes just 6 or 7 minutes!

Portrait image of a crispy skinned pan seared salmon fillet served on a black plate with lentils and fennel

Perfect Crispy Skin Salmon Fillet.

There is a real elegance to a perfectly cooked fillet of fish and it is really easy to achieve at home.

Even complex dishes like my fancy fish curry looks impressive and has a long list of ingredients but it takes minutes to cook the fish.

There are a few things that you need to do to ensure success. The first two are technical, the final one is psychological.

We begin with the oil in the pan, you need a nice even covering a couple of millimetres deep.

You need to get the oil “pretty” hot, not smoking hot and not shimmering hot. But still hot!

The next thing that you need to do is dry the skin of the fish, this goes for any fish it does not matter if it is pan-seared bream, sea bass or salmon!

You do not need to be insanely OCD about this, just pat off any excess moisture with kitchen towel.

In fact, if you dry it too much the seasoning will not “stick” and food without seasoning is soulless.

The final “secret” is the most difficult! Patience, when you put the fish in the pan hold it down, then reduce the temperature to medium and let it sit.

Do not take a peek under a corner! Do not shake the pan! Leave it alone for 4-5 minutes, then flip and give it the final minute.

If it does not flip then it is not ready, give it another 60 seconds.

Do each of these 3 things and you will have pan seared salmon with a perfect crispy skin.

Portrait Close up image of a crispy skinned pan seared salmon fillet served on a black plate with lentils and fennel

A Guide to Buying Salmon.

As with all ingredients, get the best that you can afford. But do not avoid salmon if all you can buy is farmed salmon.

It is a great ingredient, sure we would all like to eat line caught wild salmon. But let’s face it we can’t all afford it, I know I can not! 

In reality, is also not sustainable. If all of the salmon we consumed was wild then stocks would be depleted in the blink of an eye.

So take a look at the fish and do not get distracted by labels. Trust your eyes, and if you can, your nose. 

Get in nice and close if you can, if you can smell “fish” then walk away!

The next thing to look at is moisture, You want fish with a nice “sheen” to the flesh, not something that looks “matt”.

Finally, the colour, don’t be fooled by different shades, that is very much defined by diet. 

A vibrant coral colour is just as good as a deep orange, but those colours should be zingy. 

If they are pale then again walk away and go back on a day when the fish is better.

Portrait overhead image of a crispy skinned pan seared salmon fillet served on a black plate with lentils and fennel

Serving Suggestions.

Perfectly pan seared salmon fillet is a gloriously versatile centre piece for a host of sides.

The images here show it served with a quick pickled fennel salad with puy lentils. I’ve added the instructions to make this below the recipe for cooking the fish, it is heavenly!

But you can go so many ways, it would be awesome with this roasted vegetable couscous.

You could stick with the fennel thing and even swap out the duck on this fennel and orange salad with some nice crispy salmon.

Pan seared salmon works well with a whole host of salads, everything from cucumber salad to a good quality tomato salad would be perfect.

Adding some of my air fryer asparagus on the side is also a lovely addition!

Square image of a crispy skinned pan seared salmon fillet served on a black plate with lentils and fennel
Yield: 2

Pan Seared Salmon Recipe

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 11 minutes

A perfectly pan seared salmon fillet is served on a puy lentil and pickled fennel salad for a perfect mid-week dinner.

Ingredients

  • 400 g (14 oz) Salmon Fillets
  • Oil for Cooking
  • Salt to Taste
  • Pepper to Taste

Instructions

  1. Dry the salmon with kitchen towel and then season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a pan big enough for the salmon over a high heat.
  3. When hot add enough oil to cover the base of the pan by 1-2mm.
  4. Place the salmon in the pan skin side down and hold it flat for 20-30 seconds to prevent the skin from contracting.
  5. After a minute reduce the heat to medium and cook for 4-5 more minutes.
  6. Flip the salmon and cook for a final 60 seconds.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 477Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 126mgSodium: 413mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 44g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Square image of a pickled fennel salad with puy lentils served in a baby blue bowl
Yield: 2 Servings

Pickled Fennel Salad Recipe with Puy Lentils

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Earthy lentils and the aniseed of fennel are a great match add in a but of quick pickling and you end up with this utterly fantastic pickled fennel salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 Fennel Bulb
  • 50 g (1.75 oz) Shallot
  • 85 g (3 oz) Puy Lentils
  • 75 g (2.75 oz) Onion
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) White Wine Vinegar
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) Water
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 6 Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
  • Salt, To taste
  • Pepper, To taste
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Place the white wine vinegar, water, peppercorns, mustard seeds, sugar and one tablespoon of salt in a pan and bring to the boil.
  2. Whilst this is happening finely slice the shallot and fennel and place in a bowl.
  3. Cut the onion in half and place in a bowl of water with the bay leaf and bring to the boil.
  4. When the vinegar pickling mix comes to a boil remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes before pouring over the fennel and shallots. Picking out the peppercorns now avoids eating them later.
  5. Let the fennel and shallot steep for 25 minutes.
  6. By now the water, onion and bay leaf should be boiling, add in the puy lentils and allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
  7. Drain the lentils and mix together with the fennel and shallot.
  8. Season with salt and pepper, add the olive oil and then a little of the pickling liquid to taste.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3842mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 8gSugar: 19gProtein: 6g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

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Susan @ Simply Sundays

Thursday 31st of January 2019

Oh! Three ingredients I love! Pickling the fennel and adding to the lentils is an awesome idea. Just pinned this to make for my family. Thank you for sharing!

Brian Jones

Thursday 31st of January 2019

Thanks Susan, I hope you enjoy, lot's of my favourite things in this recipe too!

Beth Neels

Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Ooohh! Salmon is our all time favorite fish! I love a quick pickle, but haven't tried lentils or leeks! So intriguing! I must give it a try! I bet they add such a lovely contrast to the rich salmon!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

It never ceases to amaze me how ingredients that are commonplace in one part of the world are almost unheard of in other parts. You must hunt down leeks, they are the most wonderful member of the onion family!

Julie @ Running in a Skirt

Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Pan fried salmon is one of my favorite dishes! Lentils and fennel aren't used enough in cooking- I've to give this one a try. Such a yummy combo of flavors.

Brian Jones

Wednesday 30th of January 2019

I've been cooking with lentils quite a lot of late but have always loved fenne, that light aniseed flavour is an all-time favourite of mine!

Lesli Schwartz

Monday 28th of January 2019

Look at that crispy salmon skin! This dish looks so inviting. Can't wait to try!

Brian Jones

Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Thanks Lesli, enjoy!

Corina Blum

Monday 28th of January 2019

It sounds delicious! I especially like the way the fennel and lentils are pickled as it must give the dish a lovely light flavour.

Brian Jones

Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Thanks Corina... I love adding lightly pickled vegetables to recipes, they add so much!