Salmon is not only delicious but also one of the healthiest foods you can eat, providing many vitamins and minerals your body needs. Depending on your taste, there are many ways to cook salmon, from grilled to fried.
Today, however, we’ll focus on stovetop salmon. We will explain in detail how to cook salmon on the stove.
The Ideal Salmon Cut for the Stove
The best salmon cut is the top loin, and it’s also one of the most premium options. It has the ideal fat-to-flesh ratio for any type of cooking.
However, the belly cut is the right choice if you prefer the healthiest part of the fish. It provides omega-3 fatty acids while remaining completely delicious.
Furthermore, salmon filets are ideal for stovetop pan-seared salmon. The right-sized filet will help you get that delicious texture of crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. We recommend the ready-to-cook 6oz portions from almost any fish counter for a delicious weeknight dinner.
Steps and Directions for Cooking Salmon
Once you have the right salmon filet size, it is time to start your pre-cooking preparations. That means getting the right ingredients and cooking utensils.
Here’s what you need for the perfect stovetop pan-seared salmon:
One tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Salmon fillets (filets)
As for the utensils, you’ll need a high-quality pan or cast-iron skillet and a fish spatula. You’ll also need your freestanding stove.
How to Make Salmon on the Stove
Here’s what you need to do to cook the perfect pan-seared salmon on your stove:
Season the salmon with a few grinds of pepper and salt. We recommend not skimping on salt because this fish lacks a natural flavor. Then let the salmon sit at room temperature.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. You’ll need to set your freestanding stove to medium heat to get the right temperature for the oil.
Now, cook the salmon with the skin side down. Do not turn it until it’s golden and crisp. It should take around four minutes, depending on the temperature and your preferred doneness.
Avoid fiddling with the salmon filets as they cook. Letting them sear in the oil is the best way to guarantee that golden and crisp look.
After four minutes have passed and the fish has crispy skin, flip the filets carefully. It’s also time to reduce the heat to below medium.
Continue to let the fish cook for another four to five minutes. The total time will depend on how well-cooked you like your salmon.
After the last five minutes, you can turn the stove off and enjoy your delicious pan-seared salmon!
How Long Should You Cook Salmon on the Stove?
As a cook, there are few things worse than an overcooked piece of meat or fish. Perfectly cooked salmon is moist, flaky, tender, and so soft that it can almost melt in your mouth. An overcooked one is the opposite: dry and chewy.
To prevent overcooking or undercooking this delicious fish, you need to know its ideal doneness temperature and how long it takes to cook properly.
Here’s what you need to know about salmon doneness:
Rare salmon: Below 120ºF for those who prefer it semi-raw.
Medium-rare salmon: Between 125ºF and 130ºF.
Medium salmon: 135ºF is the perfect temperature.
Well-done salmon: 145ºF or more, but you risk making it too dry.
According to the FDA, your salmon is cooked once the thickest part of it reaches 145ºF, but that could make the salmon feel dry.
On the other hand, Cook’s Illustrated argues that between 120ºF and 125ºF is the proper temperature for the thickest part of your salmon. However, that could be too raw for some people.
We recommend an average temperature of 135ºF for the perfectly cooked salmon, whether you cook it on a pan or the grill. Once the fish reaches the desired temperature, you just need to let it rest before eating.
The Best Side Dishes for Pan-Seared Salmon
Salmon is a delicacy that pairs well with many side dishes, from baked potatoes to salads. These are the best dishes for your pan-seared salmon:
Buttery garlic green beans: Crisp beans with a sweet flavor are already fantastic. However, you can combine them with your pan-seared salmon to get something entirely different. A buttery garlic sauce with your green beans and salmon is the perfect dish for any occasion.
Roasted parmesan potatoes: If you do not like fried potatoes, the other best option is to roast them. A side dish of roasted potatoes is ideal for almost any meat, including fish. Combine your potatoes with parmesan cheese and rosemary, and you will get one of the most delicious dishes!
Lemon butter broccolini: Broccolini is not as popular as broccoli, but it might be even tastier. Broccolini and garlic butter should be your first option when looking for the right side dish for your pan-seared salmon. It enhances the flavor of the fish while providing even higher health benefits.
Thai noodle salad: Here’s an unusual option, but a delicious one nonetheless. This Asian twist for pan-seared salmon combines a peanut sauce with rice noodles, carrots, cabbage, bell peppers, and radishes.
Cilantro lime rice: We know rice is not the most exciting side dish. However, it is also a versatile option you can combine with many ingredients. For instance, cilantro lime rice has the right flavor to be paired with a delicious pan-seared salmon.
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