Cook Time: 15/20 minutes
Salmon filets, skin on.
Neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable oil
Lemon for serving
One of the most important steps to get crispy skin is to remove moisture on the fish before searing. Use a paper towel to dry both sides of the fish very well.
In the meantime, heat the pan. A 10-inch stainless steel pan will work best. You will need to get the pan hot in order to sear well, but you never want to overheat it. Well-made stainless steel pans retain heat well, so you should be able to get the pan hot enough by heating it over medium heat for a few minutes.
Once the fish is dry, and while the pan is heating, liberally salt the skin-side of the fish. You’ll want to do this very close to the time you add the fish to the pan because the salt will pull moisture out of the fish – and moisture is the enemy of crispy skin.
Add oil to the pan. The oil should not smoke. If it does, the pan is too hot, and so you’ll need to lower the heat for a bit. The oil should shimmer and coat the pan.
Add the fish, skin-side down and do it away from you so that the oil doesn’t splash towards you.
The fish should sizzle – that’s how you know the pan is hot enough. If you don’t hear the sizzle, the pan is not hot enough.
Now – do not move the fish around. Once it’s added to the pan, skin-side down, let it sit, which allows the skin to get crispy.
Cook for about 4-5 minutes on the skin side, depending on thickness and your desired doneness.
Use a spatula (a fish spatula, ideally) to flip the fish over to briefly finish cooking on the skinless side – about 30-45 seconds. If done properly, it should be easy to flip and the skin should not be stuck to the pan.
Once cooked, it’s ready to serve. Finish with salt and pepper. Serve it so the skin side is up with lemon on the side, and be sure not to add anything “wet” (like oil, or dressing) on top, because that will remove the crispiness.
This dish could take practice, and mistakes are part of learning these more challenging techniques, so don’t be discouraged. Once you get the hang of it, this is a great dish and cooking skill to have under your belt. Enjoy!
This dish could result in stuck-on pieces of food that could be hard to remove. Check our Care Guide for how to best clean these more stubborn stuck on pieces.