The perfect pan-fried salmon

March 26, 2012 in Cooking with Woolies

Pan-fried salmon with beetroot quinoa salad

Pan-fried salmon with beetroot quinoa salad by Hannah Lewry for Woolworths TASTE

I learnt how to cook salmon as a child during my summer holidays. While my friends sunned themselves on the beach, I did my bit at my parents’ catering company, sometime helping them more than I think they really wanted me to…

I remember watching my dad in fascination as he sliced through fresh sides of glistening salmon, using the sharpest knife in our kitchen. Now whenever I pan fry a piece of salmon, I always smile and think back to those hot days in the kitchen. Maybe that’s why I love salmon so much…

I’m actually stocking up on salmon right now after spotting the Woolies’ Eat In for 4 for under R150 special offer which includes a wonderful side of salmon at an absolute steal of a price. Salmon is such an easy fish to cook, and it’s super healthy for you too.

Here are my top tips with this magical piece of fish:

1. Fresh fish: Only use the freshest fish and a really sharp knife. This allows you to portion it and cut through the outer skin with out squashing the flesh

.2. Perfect portions: Slicing your salmon into equal portions is really important. Sort through by size, the fatter pieces will all get cooked together and the slimmer pieces towards the tail end will get cooked separately. This ensures that they all will be cooked evenly. (There is nothing worse than eating a beautifully cooked piece of fish to only put the next piece in your mouth and finding out mid-chew that is overcooked or slightly too raw)

3. Searing hot pan: The next step is to cook your salmon. Generously rub the salmon with olive oil to coat and Sprinkle with crushed sea salt over the oiled skin. In a super hot non-stick pan, fry a few portions at time skin side down.

4. Crispy skin secrets: Now do not, I repeat, do not turn the fish over until the skin is golden and crisp. You’ll know that it’s ready to turn over when the skin releases from the bottom of the pan and can easily slide around without you using a spatula to loosen it.

5. Timing is everything, as is paying attention to the fish at all times. Place the salmon with the skin side down first and cook it longest on this side – this is necessary to ensure the heat penetrates the skin through to the flesh. Depending on the thickness of the cut, it should take around 2 minutes. When you flip it over to its flesh side, you will only sear it for about 30 seconds to a minute, at the most. Crispy gorgeous skin with a firm but melt-in-the-mouth blushing pink middle. That’s perfect salmon


I also love eating salmon in fragrant, spicy coconut curries. I start off by frying off the curry paste before adding coconut milk and vegetables and letting it simmer for 10 minutes. I then cut my salmon into chunky pieces before adding them to the sauce, covering with a lid and letting it poach for 3- 5 minutes until firm but still succulent. This is perfect for melt-in-the-mouth salmon and cooking it in the curry sauce really brings out a myriad beautiful flavours.

When I have a whole side of salmon I prefer to cook it under a hot grill rather than in a pan. This way it is handled less and cooks evenly, perfect for when you have friend round and want to let them help themselves. I rub the salmon side with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt before placing it under a hot grill where I let it cook until firm but still succulent, for about 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the side and how you like your fish cooked.

I hope that you found some of them useful!




2 responses to The perfect pan-fried salmon

  1. will canned salmon be ok for this recipe

    • Hi, no not really. In a push you can use it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But you really need that crispy, seared taste and texture on the salmon that comes from frying it in hot oil. It makes all the difference.

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