Pan Seared Salmon with Chive Dill Butter

So I know it’s been a while again since my last post, but what can I say….. I just get busy and unfortunately my blog and even making new recipes in general takes a back seat for a while.  But I always come back!  I left off with my first installment of a new project called Kids in the Kitchen, and though I haven’t had time to fit in another between busy school schedules, mini vacations and illnesses it’s still on my to-do list so be watching for that!  In the meantime I am hoping things have settled down enough that I can focus on making new and, in keeping with my current mindset of eating lighter and losing some of this holiday weight, healthier recipes.

First up on the menu is this Pan Seared Salmon with Chive Dill Butter.  I will share my technique/recipe below, but this is one of those great recipes that has a lot of versatility.  All you’re doing is preparing a piece of salmon and mixing whatever flavors you want into some butter to top it off.  Super simple.  I served this with some grilled asparagus drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper, and some smashed potatoes.  This was my first time trying smashed potatoes and all I can say is now I am a believer!  So good, with a crispy outside, seasoned just right, and soft in the middle….. but let’s get back to the salmon lol.

I will admit, I have struggled to cook salmon in the past.  It’s not particularly hard, but cooking fish in general takes practice to get it done right where you get that nice crust on top and the fish is nicely cooked through.  I have either had it stick in my pan, or ended up with somewhat undercooked fish in the middle of a nice thick piece of fish.  With time, however, I have gotten the hang of it.  Although I switched over to stainless steel cookware some time ago to cut down on my use of non-stick and their chemicals. fish is something I pretty much always use nonstick for.  Specifically, I use a a Rachel Ray Anodized Nonstick skillet and it works beautifully for giving me a nice crust, but avoiding the dreaded stick.  Another very important tip when cooking fish to ensure it doesn’t stick and gets great crust is to leave it alone once you have placed it in the pan.  It may be tempting to lift the edges to check, or slide it around to see if it’s sticking but don’t.  Trust me.  And don’t forget to use oil or butter or something to grease your pan.  Once it’s done on one side according to your recipe’s directions flip it once and again leave it alone til it’s time to come out.  It also helps to take your fish out a few minutes early to bring the temp up just a bit before you start, and make sure it’s dry…. especially if you are cooking with previously frozen fish.  Of course, as with pretty much all food, seasoning is important, so don’t forget to season before you place it in the pan!

Now that we talked a bit about cooking a nice piece of salmon, let’s talk about the butter…. as I mentioned it’s a versatile method.  You could put whatever herbs or seasonings in this you like.  The butter will melt beautifully over the warm fish and give that richness that takes a boring piece of fish to a whole new level, imparting the flavors you incorporated at the same time.  For this recipe I used some fresh chives, dill, garlic, lemon and some salt and pepper.  It’s important to start with room temperature butter for this, so don’t forget to take it out in advance.  You could even make the butter in advance and either use it hard from the fridge, or take it out a little before for a softer butter…. and any leftovers can be used on other meats, bread, or whatever sounds good to you.

As a natural casualty to having to photograph my food before I can eat it my salmon had cooled a bit while I was setting up so my butter wasn’t melting over it right away as I would have liked for the photos, so you’ll have to use your imagination a bit.

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Pan Seared Salmon with Chive Dill Butter

Ingredients :

  • salmon fillets (about a lb) * I used salmon with the skin
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 T. butter, at room temp * I just eyeballed how much butter so this is estimation
  • drizzle of olive oil (about 1/2 tsp. perhaps)
  • fresh chives, chopped (about 1 tsp. or so)
  • fresh dill, chopped (about 1 tsp or so)
  • salt and pepper to taste (separate from the salt and pepper above)
  • garlic clove, minced
  • lemon zest
  • Lemon wedges (for serving with the fish)

Directions :

  1.  Make your butter first.  To your room temp butter add your herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, the garlic, lemon zest (by preference but about a tsp or so), and some salt and pepper.  Using a small spatula sort of stir/whip it up until well combined and set aside.  If making ahead put back in the fridge.  You can either use it straight from the fridge later on, or let it warm up just a bit so it’s a little softer.
  2. Prepare you salmon.  If you are using previously frozen salmon be sure to pat dry before you start.  Season your salmon with a bit of salt and pepper (I like to use coarse salt when seasoning meat).  If you are using salmon with skin you don’t need to season that side, but if not I would suggest doing both sides.
  3. Heat the T. of oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat.  If using skin-on salmon place it in your pan skin UP so you get the nice crust from that first bit of heat on the top of your fish first.  Once you have set your fish in your pan DON’T TOUCH IT for about 4-5 minutes.  You see the fish start to turn opaque towards the middle and the edges will start to brown.  Flip it and cook an additional 4-5 minutes.  Of course the cook-time depends on the thickness of your fish, so take that into consideration, and watch for the fish to become opaque all the way through.
  4. Remove from pan and top with a dollop of your prepared butter.  Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Note : Amounts for the herbs in the butter are estimations and I encourage you to use more or less to your tastes.  I like a nice punch of flavor and likely used more than stated above.

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