Pan-seared Salmon with a Teriyaki Glaze

by Jeff Berkowitz on February 15, 2010 · 12 comments

in salmon,Seafood

Pan Seared Salmon with a Teriyaki Glaze

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare salmon. This method is quick, simple, and versatile. It gives the fish a lovely texture which blends well with a variety of sauce styles from every continent and cuisine. The flesh gets a beautiful crust and the skin, when nicely crisp is a delicacy in its own right.  Occasionally, I serve the salmon skin separately with a Japanese style vinegar flavored rice .

One of the biggest advantages to this method is that it produces great results without long preparation or cooking times. A piece of salmon can be ready in less than 10 minutes, making this a great method for busy people.

This particular evening, I had planned on pairing the pan-seared salmon with a lemon butter sauce but my son had his heart set on teriyaki sauce….so, teriyaki, it is.

Cutting the fish properly helps in the pursuit of perfect results. Even thickness is perhaps the most important thing to look for; center cut portions are nicer than fillets cut from the head or the tail. The tail portion is too thin and often winds up over cooked.

When cutting the fish from a whole fillet, a very good way to proceed is to cut the fish along the mid line and then portion the top half for pan searing; the bottom half, which is rather uneven and quite thin, is better for a quick poach or a sauteed dish.

If you are buying  pre-portioned fish, ask for center-cut portions of even thickness and make sure the fish has been well scaled. The most important thing to get is absolutely fresh fish.

Pan-seared salmon: serves 4

prep time: 15 minutes plus time for sauce or butter

  • 4-6oz. salmon fillets (center-cut)
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp grape-seed oil

Heat a heavy bottomed well-seasoned pan or cast-iron skillet on high heat. Add the oil and distribute evenly in the pan. Allow the pan to continue heating until the oil begins to smoke. While the oil is heating, remove excess moisture from the fillets with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Place the fillets in the pan flesh side down and cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. You want the fish to sear but don’t allow the oil to smoke at this point. Carefully, lift the fish and turn over. The fish will come up easily when it is ready. If it does not come up easily, let it cook for another minute and try again. When the fish is turned onto the skin side, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes until a gentle pressure applied to the fish with a finger, tongs, or a spatula just begins to separate the flakes. It will be beautifully succulent and just barely cooked at this point. Continue to cook only if you like your fish more well done. Serve with your favorite sauce or compound butter.

Teriyaki Sauce: makes 1 cup of sauce

prep time: 10 minutes

cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine found in the Asian section of most grocery stores)
  • 1/3 cup sake (or dry white wine)
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 in. ginger thinly sliced and smashed
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Assemble all of the ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 1 cup. Strain and reserve for use. Left over sauce can be stored in a container in the refrigerator for a long time.

This basic sauce can be used as a marinade or a light sauce. It can be reduced further or thickened with a cornstarch slurry to the desired consistency.

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Wine Glaze » Pan Seared Salmon with a Teriyaki Glaze | Culinary Philosopher
March 17, 2010 at 5:03 am

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jude Boudreaux December 7, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I had a teriyaki-glazed salmon recipe that I loved, that I couldn’t find. I’m glad that I came across yours, I’ll be making it tonight. Thanks!

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2 Chris April 2, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Definitely my favorite way to eat salmon…bar none. Well, maybe except for sushi. I just picked up a slab of wild salmon this week and I can’t wait! Do you have a recipe for how to cook salmon skin for salmon skin roll?

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3 Jeff Berkowitz April 3, 2011 at 3:22 am

Chris, there are several options for crispy salmon skin. The skin on this salmon comes out beautifully crispy on the outer surface with a moist layer of melted salmon fat on the inside which would be perfectly fine in the sushi, but that would also cook the salmon which you may want for another time; or you could remove the skin from the fillet and crisp it without the salmon (saving the salmon for a different dish) in a few different ways. Dry the skin on paper towel first and them cook them in one of the following ways: 1. Pan fry the skin with only the thinnest layer of good quality oil in the pan; 2. Broil the skin under the broiler until it is crisp being very careful not to let it burn; 3. dry the skin with paper towel and deep fry it. I like the first way the best (it works well for me); I cook it on medium heat for about 5 minutes and then turn the skin over for another 5 minutes until the skin gets a golden brown appearance. The other two ways work well too and they all take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Just make sure to watch them carefully so they don’t burn and they will be great. I dry them on paper after they are cooked and season them lightly with sea salt as soon as they come out of the pan. Enjoy!

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4 Ed December 21, 2010 at 2:43 am

This looks an excellent recipe, but I’m a little confused about the heat setting at the begining of the process. You indicate placing the fillets in the pan flesh side down and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Then turning the fish onto the skin side, and turning the heat down to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes.

If the heat is already on medium when you begin you shouldn’t have to turn the heat down to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes on the skin side.

Please clarify. Thank you.

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5 Jeff Berkowitz December 21, 2010 at 10:59 am

Ed, Thanks for the comment…you are correct and I have fixed the instructions to be a bit more clear. The most important thing is: that the pan should be hot enough to just make the oil smoke before the fish goes in, once the fish is in the pan the oil should not be allowed to smoke (1st temperature reduction), and finally, when you turn the fish you probably will need to turn it down a little more.

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6 Jeanne March 29, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Ok, so I’m not the only one w/the Atlantic salmon…hmmm. I will try the trout sometime… I like to eat salmon now and then for the nutritional value… Son Ted tells me that salmon is the best to eat for low chem/metal content….relative to their eating habits, etc. Don’t know if that’s true, but it made sense when he told me. I really love white fishes like halibut and cod, but we really don’t eat them too often. In any case, now that you told me, I’ll give the method a try w/other fish.

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7 Jeanne March 29, 2010 at 9:30 am

One other thing – In defense of my use of frozen wild over farmed fresh, I cannot stomach farmed Atlantic salmon and that’s all that used to be available, so I stopped eating salmon over 20 years ago. It always leaves a mildewy moldy flavor floating around my palette. Anyone else ever get that? I’ve asked lots of salmon lovers and they think I’m nuts. So, until recently, I thought all salmon was like that. I only started eating salmon again about year or so ago when I had some fresh sockeye cooked for me. I didn’t want to offend my hosts, so I ate it and loved it. I’ve been eating it since, but I’m not a once a weeker…lol. I buy the frozen to make the non-meat eating hubby in a pinch when everyone else is eating meat. I think it’s Fresh Catch brand or something like that.

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8 Jeff Berkowitz March 29, 2010 at 9:54 am

Jeanne, our daughter Jessica hates Atlantic salmon too. We buy the sockeye and she loves that. So, I don’t think you are at all unusual. BTW, steel-head trout is also a good substitute for non-salmon lovers. Jessica loves that too. You can also try this cooking method with halibut, sea bass, Chilean and black bass, trout, and cod (but you have to be careful with cod, it’s hard to do).
I’ll have to try the dehydrated apple powder. That sounds delicious!

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9 Jeanne March 29, 2010 at 9:18 am

Ok, WoW… I tried this a couple of weeks ago… followed the recipe … I used frozen wild sockeye from whole foods… My husband, Mark, a HUGE salmon eater was totally impressed…to the point that he wants it every week… It’s the method that changed salmon cooking for me. Crispy, perfect in every way… sealed in the flavor/moisture and texture…and that says a lot for any frozen fish! The teriyaki was great, and I’ve used a couple of other sauces too. Another thing I tried, using the same method, is to pat dehydrated powdered apple skins on the raw dry fish … gives it a blackened/sweet effect. Thanks Chef Jeff! You have revolutionized my salmon cooking!!!!!

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10 Jeff February 17, 2010 at 10:11 am

The short answer is yes, wild is worth the expense. Wild salmon has less of a fatty flavor than farm raised. It has also been said that there are more omega-3 fatty acids in wild fish.

However, when choosing salmon, “fresh” trumps all other considerations. Wild salmon is in greatest supply during the summer months. I would pick fresh farm raised over frozen wild. There has been a lot of press regarding the conditions of fish farms; however, there are good fish farms. You just need to buy from a supplier you trust. In the future, we’ll do a post on buying fish.

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11 Haya Gray February 15, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Sounds and looks delicious. I will try this soon.
Question for you: do you think that buying wild salmon is worth the expense?
~Haya
PS love your website!!!

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