Crispy on the outside, tender and moist on the inside, this pan-seared salmon is served with a lemony basil butter sauce that comes together in less than 5-minutes. This vibrant an versatile recipe is what I like to call a weeknight winner!
This is one of those recipes thats simple enough for an easy weeknight meal but elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. You can’t go wrong with buttery, rich salmon so tender it flakes at the touch of a fork. The basil butter sauce comes together in a matter of minutes and adds a bright splash of acidity that perfectly complements the fatty salmon. Throw in some Whipped Japanese Sweet Potatoes and an Herb Salad with Shaved Parmesan to round out the meal.
This recipe is endlessly adaptable. I’ve used salmon for this preparation but it could just as easily be swapped out for halibut, sea-bass, sword fish, arctic char, trout etc. This sauce is equally as versatile and will work with other fresh, leafy herbs like parsley, dill, mint, or cilantro.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
All you need to make this recipe is 5-simple ingredients: salmon filets, lemon, butter, basil and chives.
Recipe Step by Step:
Step 1. Sear the Salmon
Pat the salmon filets dry with a clean paper towel then sear them, skin side up in a hot pan. Once the filets have formed a golden brown crust and release from the pan without resistance, flip them to the second side to finish cooking. As soon as they’re fully cooked transfer to a platter to rest while you make the sauce.
Step 2. Make the Basil Butter Sauce
Melt the butter in a sauce pan then add in the fresh herbs, lemon juice and salt. Use an immersion blender (or a regular stand blender) to blend everything together until smooth.
Step 3. Serve
Pour the sauce on to the platter with the salmon. Serve right away!
FAQs and Expert Tips
The best way to tell if fish is cooked is to insert a metal cake tester, metal skewer or a small knife into the thickest part of a fish and hold it there for 5 seconds. Pull it out and carefully touch the tip of the tester/skewer or knife to your lower lip, which is very sensitive to temperature. If it feels warm, the fish is cooked through and ready to serve. If the knife is still cold the fish needs more time.
For this recipe it really doesn’t matter if you leave the skin on or take it off. It’s totally up to you and your personal preference.
Check Out More Delicious Salmon Recipes
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Pan Seared Salmon with Basil Butter Sauce
- 4 8-ounce salmon filets
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup minced chives
- ½ cup loosely packed basil leaves
- ½ lemon
- salt and pepper
- Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the salmon dry with a clean paper town then lightly season on all sides with kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Add a few tablespoons of neutral oil to the pan, just enough to lightly coat the surface in an even layer. Once the oil begins to smoke gently place the filets into the pan skin side up. Cook the salmon, without moving, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip the fillets and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking until done to your preference–between 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets. Transfer the salmon to a platter to rest.
- Place a small sauce pan on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the butter to the pan and as soon as it melts stir in the chives and basil leaves. Swirl them around in the pan for 30-60 seconds–just long enough to infuse the butter with flavor but not so long that the herbs wilt or brown. Next, turn off the heat, pour in the juice from half a lemon and a generous pinch of salt. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until smooth. Taste and adjust the salt/lemon as needed.
- Pour the basil butter sauce onto the platter with the salmon. Serve right away.
- Salmon: I’ve used salmon for this preparation but it could just as easily be swapped out for halibut, sea-bass, sword fish, arctic char, trout etc.
- Basil and Chives: Feel free to mix and match herbs; parsley, dill, mint, or cilantro will all work well for this sauce.
- Butter: For a dairy-free sauce olive oil can be used instead of butter.
- Reheating Salmon: Reheat leftover salmon filets in a preheated 350F oven for 5-7 minutes or in the microwave in 1 minute increments until warm.
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