This is one of the most classic and delicious ways to serve salmon. It’s a fantastic pairing, with the lush yet light, creamy yet fresh dill sauce matching up with the rich fish. Here, salmon is pan-seared to get a crispy skin, but you can also use the sauce on grilled, poached, roasted, or baked salmon.
Dill Sauce for Salmon
There is a reason that salmon with dill sauce appears on menu after menu — it’s downright delicious. And because dill sauce is so easy to make, and salmon is so simple to prepare, this sophisticated dish is highly doable on a weeknight, though obviously elevated enough to serve guests. This is one of the most classic fish/sauce pairings in the U.S. (and maybe parts of Europe). You can also pair the sauce with other types of fish; fresh or smoked trout is another popular pairing with dill sauce.
Think of this on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s or Father’s Day, New Year’s Eve, or to impress that awesome person in your life with a home-cooked meal that feels very special.
How to Know When Salmon Is Done
How well done you like your salmon is completely personal and should not be judged by anyone at any time. If someone is telling you that you should like your salmon cooked a certain way, then politely tell them, “Good for you! Not for me,” which is a sentence I learned listening to Amy Poehler’s memoir “Yes, Please!,” and one which I think applies to cooking and eating in general.
The basic adage for how long to cook fish is 10 minutes per inch. It’s a good starting guideline no matter how you cook your fish: in a pan, on a grill, poaching, roasting, broiling, etc. But this is just a starting point and not a firm rule.
Salmon can definitely be pink in the middle and still be safe to eat. But rare salmon is not everyone’s cup of tea, so if you are cooking for a crowd, aim somewhere in the medium range. Or, if you feel confident and have the time, you might ask folks how they like their salmon cooked. Make sure your salmon is very fresh if you are serving it on the medium-rare side with a substantial amount of translucent pinkness in the middle.
Internal Temperatures for Salmon
Medium-rare salmon should be a bit translucent in the center but opaque on the top and the bottom. The internal temperature (using an instant-read thermometer) will read between 120 and 125 degrees.
Medium salmon will be a bright dark pink in the center but not quite translucent. An internal temperature will read between 125 and 130 degrees.
Medium-well salmon will be opaque pink throughout. The temp will be around 130 to 135 degrees.
Salmon with dill sauce is a classic dish ideal for special occasions or weeknight dinners. This recipe shows how easy it is to make at home.Tweet This
No matter how rare or well-cooked you like your salmon, don’t forget about carryover cooking. This is the name for the additional cooking your fish will do even once it’s removed from the pan because of the residual heat in the fish itself. The temperature will go up slightly, and the fish will cook a bit more in the couple of minutes after you remove it from the heat.
This is true of all meat and seafood and fish (and everything else to some degree), no matter how you cook them. Take it into account when you decide when to remove the fish from the pan (and know that if the fish sits in the hot pan, it will definitely continue to cook more).
How to Make Crispy-Skinned Salmon
Cooking crispy skin salmon on the stove without it falling apart is honestly a bit of a challenge. For starters, make sure you buy salmon with the skin still on. And note this method works for other fish filets with skin as well. There are different ways to go about this, but the following is the most foolproof way I’ve found. This method involves leaving the filets be and not flipping them, which is where the fish usually hits the pan.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat. Place the salmon (in batches if necessary) skin side down into the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, giving the filets a little shuffle as you lay them in the pan so they don’t stick to the bottom.
Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan. Let the salmon cook for another 3 to 8 minutes or so until it is cooked to your liking.
The bottom skin should be browned and crispy, and the middle of the salmon should have a bit of dark pinkness inside (unless you prefer your salmon cooked through; then give it another minute or two). Remember, the salmon will continue to cook a bit once removed from the heat.
Serve hot or warm with the dill sauce.
What to Serve With Salmon and Dill Sauce
Other Sauces for Salmon
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Crispy-Skinned Salmon with Dill Sauce
- 4 (6 to 8-ounce) salmon fillets (skin on)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Dill sauce
- Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium high heat. Place the salmon (in batches if necessary) skin side down into the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, giving the filets a little shuffle as you lay them in the pan so that the skin doesn't stick to the bottom.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan. Let the salmon cook for another 3 to 8 minutes or so until is it cooked to your liking. The bottom skin should be browned and crispy, and the middle of the salmon should have a bit of dark pinkness inside (if you prefer your salmon cooked through; then give it another minute or two). Remember the salmon will continue to cook a bit once removed from the heat.
- Serve hot or warm with the dill sauce.
The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.
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