Crispy honey butter salmon is a snap to make in half an hour with just five ingredients, but its flavor and texture make it worthy of a special occasion.
For the first 25 years of my life, I avoided salmon. It seemed too fishy, and its pink color always made it look suspiciously raw.
Then I started writing Paleo Planet, and my editor gently informed me that I would need to have at least one, if not two or three, salmon recipes in the book. I got cooking, and before long I discovered that crispy salmon skin is the BEST THING EVER.
Since crispy-skinned salmon is so good all on its own, I’ve started letting it shine with this super simple crispy honey butter salmon recipe. Basically we’re searing the salmon to get the skin nice and crunchy, and then topping it with a little butter and honey. The honey and butter melt onto the fish and create a rich, slightly sweet sauce that tastes like so much more than just the sum of its parts.
Ben and I are moving this week and we’re exhausted (see our super cute new digs here!), so I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. Below you’ll find my five best tips for making sure your salmon skin is truly crispy. If you’re still looking for something special to cook for Valentine’s Day, why not give this crispy honey butter salmon a try? And by the way, it’s fabulous with Instant Pot mashed potatoes.
Five tips for achieving (and maintaining!) perfectly crispy salmon skin:
- Make sure the salmon skin is very dry. Pat it with paper towels and if time allows, let the salmon rest uncovered in the refrigerator with the skin side up for 15-30 minutes. After that, pat it dry again!
- Use a cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Cast iron conducts heat evenly so that all of the salmon’s skin will be exposed to the right amount of heat.
- Wait until the pan is very hot–almost smoking–before adding the salmon, skin side down.
- Let the salmon sear undisturbed for a full five minutes to develop an evenly crispy crust.
- Serve the salmon skin side up. Your salmon skin may be perfectly crispy when you remove it from the pan, but if it spends just a few minutes smooshed into the bottom of the plate, it will quickly become soggy.
- Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and place skin side up on a plate. If time allows, refrigerate the salmon uncovered for 15 minutes to further dry out the skin. If resting in the refrigerator, pat the skin dry again before cooking.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon generously with salt and pepper on both sides. When the pan is hot, add the ghee or avocado oil.
- When the ghee is very hot but not smoking, add the salmon fillets skin side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the skin is browned and very crisp and the fillet is opaque about halfway up the side. Turn the fillets over and cook for 1-4 minutes on the second side, or until cooked to your liking.
- Transfer the salmon to serving plates with the skin side up. Divide the butter and honey between the two fillets, letting them melt on top. Serve right away.
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