Pan-Seared Salmon

So as it turns out, dinner is kind of a mandatory thing around here.

And with two working parents and a baby on a strict schedule, time for cooking is virtually nonexistent.

Enter: pan-seared salmon.

One Hangry Mama | Pan-Seared Salmon

I always keep Costco Atlantic salmon in the freezer, so this is my go-to recipe when I’m on my way home from work and realize I made zero plans for dinner and have exactly 30 minutes to get something thrown together–which happens at least once a week.

The husband and baby both love it (is it bougey that my baby eats salmon? I hope so), and it only takes 15 minutes to prep and cook. This recipe is also a one-armed-wonder, in that I’ve managed to make it one-handed while the baby terrorist demanded I hold him.

This Pan-Seared Salmon recipe originally came from “The Weeknight Cook” cookbook, but I’ve adapted it over the years to be my own special (easier) blend.

Before I go into the step-by-step, it’s worth mentioning that the first time I ever made this recipe, over 6 years ago, I pretty severely burned my arm.

Like, second-degree, blistered, still-have-the-literal-scars-to-prove-it burned.

So… buyer beware. It’s my life mission to ensure no one else suffers the wrath of hot oil, so I’ll do my best to provide adequate warnings throughout the steps (which is why this step-by-step is longer than a Game of Thrones novel… BUT WITH MORE MEDIEVAL TORTURE).

*Disclaimer: These photos suck, I know. I’ll replace them soon with better ones, I promise. You try cooking, holding a baby, AND taking photos at the same time, and then come at me about sucky photos, okay?*

How to Make Pan-Seared Salmon in 15 Minutes

First things first, skin your salmon if you haven’t already.

If, like me, you’re incapable of that kind of knifery, ask them to do it at the store when you buy it, or buy the already-skinned frozen salmon filets. Rinse and pat them dry… like super dry. Mojave Desert dry.

(Apparently oil and water don’t mix, and this was reason number 1 for having oil exploded all over my arm six years ago.)

One Hangry Mama | Pan-Seared Salmon

Season the salmon filets with a healthy shake of garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I typically don’t really measure this part anymore; I just coat both sides of the filets.

I’m guessing it’s about two teaspoons of garlic powder, one teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of pepper (or at least that ratio; you can season more or less, depending on how strongly-flavored you want it to be).

Start heating a medium-sized pan over medium heat. One trick to successful pan-searing is to get the pan hot before even adding the oil.

After a minute or so, add in a tablespoon or two of canola oil–just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. The other trick to successful pan-searing is to let the oil get hot before you add the food in, to help prevent sticking.

Once the oil is hot, and just barely starting to smoke, toss some parsley into it. This seasons the oil, but also serves as a testing ground for the dangerous weapon of torture that is your hot oil (I may or may not have PTSD).

It should sizzle a little bit when you add the parsley. That’s usually a good indicator that the oil is at the right temp. But if it crackles and pops and spits, turn the heat down and take cover while it cools off a bit.

One Hangry Mama | Pan-Seared Salmon

Give the parsley a few seconds to flavor the oil, then add the salmon.  Take my word for it, use tongs–this was mistake number 2 in the Great Oil Incident of 2010: I haphazardly tossed that salmon in with my bare hands like some kind of Emeril-Lagasse-lookin’ fool.

Prepare yourself, because the oil will sizzle and pop a little bit when the salmon hits it. Gently place each filet in, then cover that lava pit with a splatter screen and back away slowly. The splatter screen protects your precious skin, but also helps steam the inside of the salmon, so it cooks more quickly.

One Hangry Mama | Pan-Seared Salmon

Give it 4-5 minutes, then gently flip it. It’ll be starting to get flakey at this point, so flipping it without breaking it in half is something of an art-form.

It’s ok, just give your husband the broken pieces; beggars can’t be choosers, and we all know husbands are beggars. They’re like the raccoons of the family food chain–just begging for their every meal while spreading filth and contributing little-to-nothing. BOOM, roasted.

Sear the second side of the salmon for about 4 minutes, and you’re good to go! It should be cooked throughout and lightly crispy on the outside. I typically serve with saffron rice (or “yellow rice”, in our well-cultured household) and steamed peas or broccoli.

One Hangry Mama | Pan-Seared Salmon

Yield: 2 servings

Pan-Seared Salmon

Pan-Seared Salmon
This easy weeknight meal is better than any restaurant salmon you've tried! In less than 15 minutes, you'll have perfectly crisp, flavorful salmon that even your toddlers will eat.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 salmon filets, skinned
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • pinch parsley

Instructions

  1. Rinse and thoroughly dry salmon filets. Season both sides with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Heat medium-sized pan over medium heat for one minute. Add oil and heat another minute or two, until oil is just barely smoking.
  3. Toss a pinch or two of parsley into oil. It should sizzle a little bit–that’s how you know the oil is ready.
  4. Carefully place salmon filets in pan using tongs. Cover with a splatter screen and sear for 5 minutes, until crisped and lightly browned.
  5. Flip filets and sear the other side for 3 – 5 minutes, until lightly browned and inside is cooked to your liking.
  6. Serve immediately.
This pan-seared salmon is fool-proof!

6 Comments

  1. Looks yummy (and fraught with peril)!

    Question though: Are you thawing the salmon first, or cooking it straight out of the freezer?

    • Definitely fraught with peril! Thawed first. It usually thaws really quickly; I typically put it in the fridge 8-12 hours before cooking it.

  2. YUM! Definitely adding this to our menu for next week! (Also, I vividly remember the Great Oil Incident of 2010 and that was no joke!)

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