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Sear-Roasted Salmon Fillets with Lemon-Rosemary Butter Sauce

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Serves four.

  • To learn more, read:
    Sear, Roast & Sauce
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 71

Be sure that the oven has reached 425°F before starting to sear—most ovens take 20 to 30 minutes to heat up thoroughly.

For the Salmon:
  • 4 skinless salmon fillets, (about 1-1/2 lb. total)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, canola oil, or peanut oil
For the Lemon-Rosemary Butter Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Tbs. finely diced shallot (about 1 large)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sear-roast the salmon:

Heat the oven to 425°F. Turn the exhaust fan on to high. Pat the salmon thoroughly dry with paper towels. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper (about 1 tsp. of each total). Heat a 12-inch heavy-based ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until a droplet of water vaporizes in 1 or 2 seconds, about 1 min. (If the water skitters around the pan and doesn’t evaporate, the pan is too hot; take it off the heat for about 30 seconds to cool.)

Add the oil, swirl it around the pan, and then evenly space the fish in the pan. Cook without touching for 2 min. Using a spatula, lift a corner of the salmon, check that it’s both well browned and easily releases from the pan, and flip it over. (If it sticks or isn’t well browned, cook for 1 to 2 more min. before flipping.) Cook the second side for 1 min. and then transfer the skillet to the oven.

Roast until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 135°F and is slightly firm to the touch, about 4 to 7 min. Using potholders, carefully remove the pan from the oven, transfer the salmon to a large plate, tent with foil, and let it rest while you prepare the sauce in the same skillet.

Prepare the pan sauce:

Pour off any excess fat from the skillet. Using a large wad of paper towels, blot any remaining oil from the pan but leave any browned bits. Return the pan to high heat and add the wine, shallot, and rosemary. Cook, stirring, until the wine is almost completely evaporated, 3 to 4 min. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cubes of butter, adding a few at a time until they’re all thoroughly incorporated and the sauce is thick and creamy looking. (If the butter is slow to melt, set the pan over low heat.) Stir in the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately, spooned over the sear-roasted salmon.

Drink Suggestions

Wine Choices: The big flavor brought on by searing, coupled with the richness of the butter, means this salmon can handle a dry rosé or light red, like Pinot Noir.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings; Calories (kcal): 440; Fat (g): fat g 30; Fat Calories (kcal): 270; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 13; Protein (g): protein g 37; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 2; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 600; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 140; Fiber (g): fiber g 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Lucky enough to bring several King Salmon back from Alaska ... This is the only way I'll prepare them ... hard to improve on perfection :O)

Very good recipe! There is no reason to make the sauce in a separate pan, b the time it was ready the fish was overlooked and cold. Served with sautéed spinach. Perfect, easy meal for a weeknight. My two four-year olds ate it no problem. (Side note: we feed them salmon regularly. I don't want to imply this recipe got them to eat salmon :)

Going to be my go-to salmon recipe. yes add more rosemary

Amazing! My husband said this was the best Salmon he has ever tasted. Better then restaurant. The only thing I did different was added a little more Rosemary and after drizzling sauce over salmon added fresh chives and a little bit of dill. The sauce also tasted great on the kids tilapia!

delicious, with wild salmon. My filets were on the small side so it only took a few mins in the oven. I used parsley and just a bit of dried thyme in the pan sauce. Served with steamed broccoli and cauliflower with orzo, and a side of sun dried tomato, garlic, parmesan "salsa".

I have been making this since the original magazine published it. It's my favorite way to cook salmon, it comes out crispy on the outside and tender inside. Highly recommended.

Very tasty, very easy, and looks very fancy when complete. A real winner! I never have to cook the salmon as long as the recipe says though, so watch your thermometer to avoid overcooking.

Great recipe and easy to prepare.

Loved this recipe! used salmon steaks and onions with Thyme and it was fabulous. thanks, Tony

Loved this recipe! used salmon steaks and onions with Thyme and it was fabulous. thanks, Tony

Made this recipe and followed all the instructions with no adjustments. Delicious. Will definitely make this again!

Made this to rave reviews last night. So easy, so quick, and so delicious. Husband and I loved the sauce; the 4yo boys loved the salmon sans sauce. A keeper for sure.

A great dish which will most certainly be served again in our home! We used 1 lb of salmon since it was only my husband and I, so we ended up only using about half the sauce made (and have saved the other half to make the same meal later in the week at my husband's suggestion given how much he enjoyed it!). Also, I didn't have fresh rosemary on hand, but did have fresh dill which I know goes well with salmon and we weren't disappointed. It was very simple to make although I did have trouble with the fish sticking a bit to the stainless steel pan, so I left it on a few minutes longer than suggested on each side (5 on the first side and 3 on the other). Given the extra time on the stove top, I was afraid of overcooking it in the oven, but I stuck with the suggested time in the oven (about 5min) and it came out perfect! Maybe next time I will try to use a non-stick pan as suggested by the previous reviewer. All in all, this is a winner!

In the May publication, the master sear/roast & sauce piece, explained the standard technique and this is just one of the fabulous recipes that have come from that article. I have incorporated this recipe into my personal chef business that seems to always impress. The one thing that I have changed is to use a hard anodized non stick pan which still will develop that golden crust onto the salmon, then onto building your pan sauce with great success. Although it is simply and straight forward to make, the end results are anything but just simply!

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