Pan Seared Salmon are super crispy on the outside, while soft, tender and flakey on the inside and take just 15 minutes to prepare. No matter your schedule or how busy you are, this dish is a must to be on your weekly menu. The key is to cook the salmon most of the way through with the skin side down in order to insulate the delicate flesh from the direct heat of the pan.
It is also important to resist the urge to fiddle with the fillets as they cook. Letting the fish sear untouched in hot oil creates that lovely, flavorful golden crust. You will start with seasoning the salmon with the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Cook the salmon, without moving, skin side up, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes.
Carefully flip the fillets and reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking until done to your liking, 4 to 5 minutes more.
- 4 skin-on salmon fillets, about 6 ounces (170g) each
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable, canola, or light olive oil
- Press salmon fillets between paper towels to dry surfaces thoroughly. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.
- In a large stainless, cast iron, or carbon steel skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to medium-low, then add a salmon fillet, skin side down.
- Press firmly in place for 10 seconds, using the back of a flexible fish spatula, to prevent the skin from buckling. Add remaining fillets one at a time, pressing each with a spatula for 10 seconds, until all fillets are in the pan.
- Cook, pressing gently on the back of fillets occasionally to ensure good contact with skin, until skin releases easily from the pan, about 4 minutes.
- Continue to cook until salmon at medium heat for medium, 5 to 7 minutes total.
- Using a spatula and a fork, flip salmon fillets and cook on the second side for 15 seconds, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.