Pan-fried salmon steak is a delicacy when seasoned with sage and cooked in butter. It's a delicious and seemingly fancy restaurant-level dish that is in fact very easy to prepare, making it the ideal choice for a weeknight dinner.
Salmon is a huge favorite of mine. It's wonderfully fatty and so very flavorful. I usually prefer it to mild white fish, although this baked cod is excellent too.
In this easy recipe, perfect for a weeknight dinner, the butter and sage impart wonderful flavors upon the already-delicious fish. And I love how easy it is to make - it's literally ready in just 15 minutes, from start to finish. You can't beat that!
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty salmon recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Salmon steaks: I usually get them at Whole Foods. I try to buy wild-caught sustainable salmon when possible.
Sea salt and black pepper: Freshly ground black pepper has the best flavor. And if you choose to use a coarser salt (such as kosher salt), you can use a little more of it.
Dried sage: Make sure it's fresh! It's an important part of this recipe, and a stale spice can easily ruin a dish. Speaking from a sad experience...
Unsalted butter: I use it for frying. You can also use olive oil. But butter adds wonderful flavor, so that's what I normally use.
How to cook salmon steaks? It's easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to season the fish pieces with spices.
Then you fry them in butter until browned on the outside and cooked through. This should take about three minutes per side. You will probably need to lower the heat from medium-high to medium at some point.
Expert tip: cooking time
Note that this recipe was written for 6-oz steaks. If yours are bigger, you'll need to fry them longer, possibly 4-5 minutes per side. But then do reduce the heat to medium or even medium-low after the first 3 minutes.
Frequently asked questions
Salmon steak is the cut you get when you cut the whole salmon crosswise, including the bone. In contrast, a salmon fillet is the cut you get when you slice the fish lengthwise, away from the bone.
There's no one "best" method! I like it sauteed, as we do here; baked - check out this baked salmon recipe; grilled salmon is juicy and flavorful; poached salmon is tasty and moist. And it's also excellent when broiled - here's a good recipe for broiled salmon.
Salmon is fully cooked when its color turns from translucent to opaque. Its internal temperature, measured by an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part (without touching the bone), should reach 135°F. Although it should be noted that the FDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145°F, measured in the thickest part of the fish.
Variations and substitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- You can use the same recipe to cook 6-oz fillets of salmon. However, depending on their thickness, they might need to be cooked for a shorter time.
- Feel free to add more spices! Garlic powder is a very nice addition. And for a completely different flavor profile, cook the fish pieces in olive oil instead of butter, and season them with smoked paprika and a bit of ground cumin.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to three days.
Make sure you reheat them very gently so that they don't dry out. I usually reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
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Pan Fried Salmon Steak
- 2 (6 oz) salmon steaks about ½ inch thick
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Sprinkle, then rub, both sides of the salmon steaks with salt, pepper and sage.
- Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat.
- When foaming subsides, add the salmon steaks.
- Fry the salmon steaks 3 minutes on the first side.
- Turn to other side, lower heat to medium and cook until cooked through, about 3 more minutes,
- Transfer the salmon steaks to plates, spoon the pan juices on top, and serve.