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How to Cook Salmon Over the Stovetop

The Hitch-Free Method of Searing Salmon Over the Stovetop

Some may avoid cooking flaky fish over the stovetop, because residual anxiety from poorly flipped pancakes and broken fried egg yolks still haunt them in the kitchen. But I promise, it's not going to be like that. No sir, not this time! You're equipped with the right technique to perfectly pan-sear salmon every time.

  1. Start with a good pan! A well-seasoned cast iron pan or nonstick skillet are the easiest to work with.
  2. Place the pan over a medium-high heat and let that pan become hot. You'll know it's hot enough when a splash of water sizzles and evaporates quickly.
  3. Grease that sucker up with about a tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter that cooks at high temperatures without smoking) or high-heat oil like peanut or canola. Let the oil heat through, about a minute.
  4. Place the salmon fillet skin side down on the pan. Let it cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes (if it's a thin fillet) and up to 4 minutes (if it's a thick 2-inch fillet). Don't touch it (the skin might stick and tear); set an alarm instead. While it's cooking, liberally sprinkle salt over the top of the fish.
  5. When the bottom half of the fish appears opaque, use a spatula to flip it. You'll know the skin side has finished searing when it's easy to wedge the spatula between the salmon and the pan. Otherwise, if it's sticky, let it cook for a minute or so more, and try again.
  6. Turn down the heat to medium and cook the other side an additional 2-3 minutes more (this side will cook faster). Remove from heat. Residual heat will cause carryover cooking, so serve the salmon immediately.
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