Sear-Roasted Salmon with Honey-Glazed Fennel


Serves 4

The richness of sear-roasted salmon is contrasted by the bright, sweet-tart salad of fennel and apple that tops it. This recipe features a few unusual spices, namely tart sumac and fragrant fennel pollen. If you can’t find fennel pollen, you can omit it; the dish will still be very flavorful. If you use paprika instead of sumac, the fish and fennel will take on a rich, red hue.

For the spice rub:
  • 1 Tbs. coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbs. ground sumac or sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
For the fish and fennel:
  • Four 6-oz. skinless salmon fillets, preferably wild
  • 41/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 3 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and sliced lengthwise about 3/16 inch thick, to yield 1-1/2 cups (save about 1/2 cup fronds for garnish)
  • One-half Granny Smith apple
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. fennel pollen

Heat the oven to 425°F.

Make the spice rub

In a small skillet, heat the coriander seeds over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are lightly golden brown and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Grind the seeds in an electric grinder and transfer to a small bowl. Use your fingers to stir in the sumac or paprika, lemon zest, and salt.

Sear-roast the fish and fennel:

Generously coat the salmon fillets on all sides with the rub and set the fillets on a plate. In a small bowl, stir together 4 tsp. of the lemon juice and the honey.

In a heavy 12-inch ovenproof skillet, heat 3 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, arrange the salmon fillets evenly in the pan, skinned side up. Add the fennel to the pan, fitting it into the spaces around the fish. (It will look like there’s not much room, but you will be able to squeeze this amount of fennel around the fillets.) Sear for about 2 minutes, without moving; then use a slotted metal spatula to lift a piece of fish and check the color. When the fillets are nicely browned, flip them and put the pan in the oven. Roast until the salmon is barely cooked in the center, 4 to 6 minutes. While the salmon is roasting, toss the fennel fronds in a medium bowl with the remaining 1 tsp. olive oil. Core the apple half and cut it into matchsticks. Add to the fennel fronds. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp. lemon juice over the apples, season with salt and pepper, and toss again. When the salmon is cooked, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the salmon with the spatula to serving plates. Taste the fennel; if it is still crunchy, set the pan over medium heat and cook the fennel a few minutes more, stirring occasionally, until it’s tender. With the spatula, transfer the fennel to a small plate.

Pour off and discard any oil in the pan, blotting the pan with a wad of paper towels (there will be some browned spice rub sticking to the pan, which is fine). Return the pan to the stove over medium-high heat and add the lemon-honey mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon to release the browned bits. Add the cooked fennel and stir to coat it with the glaze. Remove the pan from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Top each piece of salmon with some of the glazed fennel and then a little mound of apple salad. If any glaze remains in the pan, drizzle some around each piece of salmon. Sprinkle each portion with a good pinch of fennel pollen, if using, and serve immediately.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with herbed or white rice on the side.

Drink Suggestions

A zesty, herbal Sauvignon Blanc would pair well with the sweetness of the honey glaze and the richness of the salmon. Try the 2007 Spy Valley, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand ($16).

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 430, Fat (kcal): 24, Fat Calories (g): 220, Saturated Fat (g): 3.5, Protein (g): 40, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13, Carbohydrates (mg): 14, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 6, Sodium (g): 960, Cholesterol (g): 105, Fiber (g): 4,

Photo: Scott Phillips

SUPERB!!!! Definitively use sumac.

After reading all the great reviews, I was very disappointed in this recipe. I couldn't find the fennel pollen or the sumac. I used paprika as suggested but the spice rub seemed to overpower the salmon. Won't be making this recipe again.

Delicious! I loved this recipe.. Beautiful presentation & great flavor

Seriously good - this one is going straight into my favourites file. Easy to make too.

WOW, this recipe is soo good! The flavors melded so well together and it made for a beautiful presentation too. I had never cooked with Sumac and was surprised at how sweet and complex the flavor was compared to standard paprika. I think that if you don't use Sumac, you are missing an important flavor component. My husband loved it, he said it was like eating at a 5 star restaurant. Thank you for the great meal idea.

After reading the great reviews, I had to try this. Well, I'm going to say that it's the first time I haven't been impressed with a recipe from FC. Not sure if it was the salmon I purchased or what... won't make it again.

Really excellent. Probably my favorite fish recipe from Fine Cooking thus far. I followed the recipe exactly except forgot to add the fennel pollen right at the end. The spice rub, the caramelized fennel, the tart apple salad - so complex, but not too busy. This was a big project for me for a weeknight - toasting the spices, etc. - but took less than an hour. Husband kids enjoyed it as well.

The spice rub in this recipie is fantastic. I used sweet paprika and the fish had this lovely dark red coating. I had too much fish to fit the fennel in the pan so I carmelized it first, then re-added it to the pan after the fish was done. This dish was so different from many other salmon recipies. Will defiantly try with other fish too!. Loved it.

I adore this recipe-- light, simple, elegant... and big on fennel flavour. Don't skip the sumac- this recipe has made it my new favourite spice. My only change (because I like caramelized fennel) is to partly cook the fennel before putting the salmon in. Go for it!

Confession: I made a very simplified, paired down version of this recipe -no spice rub, fennel or apple, just a sprinkling of fennel seeds, salt and pepper on the fish before cooking. But I followed the rest of the instructions exactly, and this turned out to be the most moist, flavorful salmon we've had in a long time! The honey glaze is a wonderful addition.

Great recipe! the combination of flavors and textures is inspired. I left out the honey and thought it was sweet enough from the apple alone. Each recipe from this Sear-Roasting Fish article is great.

Outstanding. Easy enough for weekdays and here in the NW we get the best salmon. Made it with fresh caught Coho. Only thing I would change is to double or even triple the sauce. Since I squeezed the entire lemon and only used five teaspoons I had a bunch left so next time, triple.

I sear roasted the fish with the spice rub and it was excellent. The best way to cook salmon since it ends up crisp on the outside and soft and creamy inside. Made it 3 times in the last couple of weeks!

Fabulous! And you can do a lot of stuff ahead, even the apple salad; mix the lemon and honey; make the rub. Tonight I tried it all on a pork tenderloin: Rub the meat early in the day and refrigerate. Double the honey sauce. Brown the meat and add the fennel on the last turn. Roast 15 minutes at 400. What great flavors, Mr. Douglas!

Loved this. The apple/fennel salad was a nice touch, but it was the honey glazed fennel that was the star for me. Paired so nicely with the salmon. I happened to have fennel pollen in my cupboard thanks to a chef friend of mine and it was a great finishing touch. I expected the spice rub to be spicy, but it was rather mild, however I didn't have whole coriander so used ground, and substituted paprika for sumac. Next time I'll make the spice rub as instructed to see if that kicks it up. I served this with Orange-Scented Rice Pilaf with Fennel", which paired perfectly. This one is going in the regular rotation!


loved the fennel with apple and the bite with the salmon was very tasty combo

This recipe was very easy, tasty and everyone present wanted the recipe--an unusual event in my family. I highly recommend it!

Be sure you have a very thick piece of salmon! We loved the fennel-apple salad; to us that was what "made" the dish.

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