The problem with nice thick salmon fillets is how to cook them. If the fillet is more than about an inch thick then you are faced with a quandary: Sautéing until the surface is nicely done leaves the center almost raw. But sautéing until the center is done leaves the outside overcooked.
A technique known as sear-roasting comes to the rescue. We use a hot sauté pan on the stovetop to achieve a nicely browned exterior. Then we put it in the oven for a few minutes to cook the interior. This same technique works equally well for any thick cut of meat or fish.
Sear-Roasted Salmon Fillet
- Salmon Fillets
- High-heat oil such as safflower oil or canola oil
Preheat the oven to 375F. Rub a little salt into the salmon. put the oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Wait util the oil has just started smoking and add the salmon skin side down. Let the salmon cook skin side down for a couple of minutes. Use a spatula to check when the salmon releases and is no longer stuck to the pan, then flip it over.
At this point you should be able to easily pop the skin off the fillet.Let the salmon cook for another minute or two until it releases from the pan. Flip the salmon over again and put the entire pan into the oven. In 3 – 4 minutes the center will be done. I use a thermapen and cook the salmon until it reaches an internal temperature of 125-135 degrees. (The salmon will finish cooking while it rests and you are making the sauce.)
Remove the pan from the oven. Move the salmon to a warm plate and tent with foil while you make the Rosemary Beurre Blanc sauce.
Rosemary Beurre Blanc Sauce
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 large shallot chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary, divided
- 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter
- 4 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
NOTE: Traditionally, beurre blanc was prepared using Muscadet wine, which is sufficiently acidic that the lemon juice can be omitted.
Cut the butter into small cubes or slices. set aside about a teaspoon of the chopped rosemary.
After removing the salmon from the pan, wipe any remaining oil from it (being careful to not disturb any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan). Add the shallots, rosemary, and wine. Deglaze the pan – lightly scrape any browed bits up from the bottom of the pan so that become part of the sauce. (If you are new to this, once the wine starts to bubble, getting those yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan is easy.) Let the wine reduce until there is about a tablespoon left in the pan. Remove from the heat.
Beurre blanc has a reputation for ‘breaking’, meaning that the butter does not fully emulsify and combine with the other ingredients. A French chef taught me this trick: At this point in the process add the cream. Start adding the butter, one piece at a time while whisking vigorously. (You may nee to return the pan to the heat briefly if the butter is slow to melt.)
Strain the sauce into a small warmed container then add the reserved chopped rosemary. Pour the sauce over the salmon.