CT 011| How to Pan Roast Salmon

In this video I demonstrate how to pan roast a salmon fillet. A few things to keep in mind anytime you pan roast a piece of fish:

  • I prefer to brine my fish in a 5% salt brine for 20-60 minutes before cooking. This helps them maintain their moisture content throughout the cooking process.
  • Always use a pan that is just large enough to fit the ingredient being pan roasted but no bigger. If the pan is too large, you will form two distinct temperature zones when the protein is added to the pan which will lead to an uneven crust.
  • Allow the pan to fully heat before adding cooking oil. This helps to avoid sticking.
  • I prefer to use a 50/50 mix of clarified butter and canola oil, but any high temp neutral flavored oil will work including grape seed, vegetable, safflower oil, etc.
  • Never flip the fish during the cooking process and try not to "peek" at the crust side. Searing only one side of the fish will give a nice contrast between the crust and the tender flesh of the fish.
  • When the edge of your fish is golden brown, place finish in a 500F/260C oven for about 5 minutes or until the fish is "responsive" when gently squeezed as demonstrated in the above video.
  • After the fish is finished cooking, it may stick to the saute pan. If this happens, simply walk away and come back in 5 minutes. At this point it should release easily from the pan.

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There are 11 Comments

jacob burton's picture

Correct. If the salmon is brined first (which is what I prefer), there is no need to salt.


This pan roasting technique can be used to achieve any internal temperature that you like, but "mid-rare" is a bit of a misnomer when applied to fish. For fish there's really only three temperatures; rare, perfect and over done. Cook the salmon until it is responsive and you'll have great results. If you like it a little more rare, then pull back on the cooking time slightly.

jacob burton's picture

There is no recipe; it's a technique that allows you to make any recipe you like.

jacob burton's picture

If you had a large, fish shaped pan and burner, then theoretically you could pan roast a whole fish. Where you will run into problems though is a narrow fish will leave too much negative space in a round saute pan, which will lead to uneven cooking. Because of this, large fillets of fish are best for this method.

jacob burton's picture

Glad you enjoyed this technique. This preparation often converts non-salmon lovers, so your wife isn't alone.


As for brining goes, it won't effect the sear if treated properly. Simply run the salmon under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. If you have time, allow it to sit in your fridge for a few hours, uncovered, which will further dry out the surface.


In fact, the salmon in this video was actually brined because the day I decided to shoot this technique, there was no un-brined salmon in my kitchen (we brine all of our fish at Stella). I "pretended" that it wasn't brined and thus demonstrated salting it because a lot of people on YouTube get caught up on the brining step and it discourages them from trying this technique altogether. As you can see, the crust came out fine (the salmon had been sitting out of the brine, in the fridge, for about 4 hours prior to shooting this video).

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