This Almond Cherry Seared Salmon is the perfect date night centerpiece, and features rich King salmon seared to perfection and topped with hot, juicy cherries and toasted almonds.
This post is sponsored by Regal New Zealand King Salmon, but as always, all opinions are my own.
Do you love Bing cherries? Growing up, we rarely had these dark red treats. The tiny stone fruits were missing from my life– except when we went to the beach. Beach days meant coolers of whatever fruit we wanted– and each year the parents, my friend Sarah, and I would wander through new and exciting grocery stores that we didn’t have back home (like Winn-Dixie and Publix), and pile bags of Bing cherries into our grocery cart. Then, we’d spend the next few days gorging ourselves on cherries and ignoring the red tell-tale cherry stains on our lips and faces.
Years later, I still love cherries. At some point, I realized that a little self control with cherries could be an excellent thing. Why? Cherries are perfect for eating on their own, of course, but they’re also perfect cooked!! (Go figure.) In particular– they’re amazing with salmon! I recently had a chance to cook with some King salmon– a rich and decadent seafood luxury– and the cherries made the fish even more spectacular. This recipe for Almond Cherry Seared Salmon is perfect for Date Night, is easy to make, and is ready in about 25 minutes.
Buying King Salmon
You probably already know that salmon contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Shopping for salmon, however, can be confusing if you don’t understand the packaging labels. Why? For one thing– there’s more than one type of salmon to buy! Do you know what to look for?
Here in the U.S., you’re most likely to find Farmed Atlantic Salmon, Wild Pacific Pink Salmon, and Wild Pacific Sockeye Salmon. (Read more about those salmon varieties here.) However, there’s another kind of salmon that you should be looking for– King salmon.
King salmon (or Chinook salmon) is the largest type of salmon, and is packed with more fatty omega-3s than any of the other salmon species. This luxurious fish is delicious and meaty, and the higher fat content makes it easier to cook with– and less likely to stick to a pan or grill– than leaner cuts of salmon.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been cooking with (and falling in love with) the gorgeous, thick, and marbled King salmon fillets from Regal New Zealand King Salmon. These beautiful King salmon fillets are sustainably farmed in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds. Regal’s salmon farming is so well-run and eco-friendly that it’s been awarded the Best Aquaculture Practices certification from the Global Aquaculture Alliance, and is listed as a ‘Best Choice’ from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch— making it both a delicious and environmentally friendly choice.
Want to try Regal’s King Salmon fillets? This summer, look for them in the frozen food section at Costco! They’ll be available at Costcos all across the Northeastern United States– particularly in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Not sure where the closest Costco is? Try using their store finder.
Making Almond Cherry Seared Salmon
Once you’ve got some King salmon, you’ll also need some almond slivers, a little amaretto, a lemon– and of course, Bing cherries. Before you use the cherries, make sure to pit them! If you don’t own a cherry pitter, grab a chopstick and an empty glass bottle. Remove the stem from the cherry, and set it– stem side up– on the opening on the bottle. Poke your chopstick through the cherry, and the pit should pop right out! (My cherries were a little stubborn and I had to use the wider end of the chopstick to make this trick work.)
If pitting cherries sounds like… the pits… you can also buy frozen bags of pre-pitted cherries. You can use those if you prefer– your sauce will just have a slightly different texture than if you’d used fresh cherries.
Next, you’ll toast the almonds over low heat, and set them aside. Heat butter or oil in in a heavy-bottomed pan, and sear your fish! For a perfect sear, make sure your fish is totally thawed, and that you’ve let it get to room temperature. You should also dry it off as much as possible before setting it in the pan. Once you’ve set the salmon in the pan– Don’t touch it!!! Let it cook until the translucent flesh has cooked and turned about 3/4 of the fish opaque from the bottom up. Flip the salmon, and cook it for about another minute. Take the salmon out of the pan, and cover it to keep it hot.
Next, add a little amaretto and the cherries to your hot pan. Let everything simmer for a few minutes until the cherries blister and burst. Serve the salmon, cherries, and almond slivers together, and enjoy this sweet and decadent dinner!
Tips for Searing Salmon
- If possible, let the fish come to room temperature before searing. Remove fish from the fridge about 20 minutes before you need to cook it, or at the very least take it out of the fridge before you start prepping all your ingredients.
- Dry the fish thoroughly– wet fish will stick to the pan.
- If your fish sticks when you try to flip it, wait and let it cook a little longer.
- Add the fish, skin-side down, and then don’t touch the fish until it’s time to flip– nudging it in the pan will cause the fish to tear.
Almond Cherry Seared Salmon
- 1/8 cup almonds, slivered
- 1 TB butter OR olive oil
- 2 King salmon fillets (~7oz each) Regal New Zealand King Salmon recommended
- pinch salt, pepper
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 cup sweet cherries (such as bing cherries), pitted
- 1/4 cup amaretto
Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add almond slivers, and toast them for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to turn golden and smell fragrant.
Pat salmon dry. Pat dry again. (Wet fish will not sear). Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, and rub the lemon zest onto the fleshy side of the salmon.
Heat butter in a stainless steel or cast iron pan over medium-high heat, until butter is hot but not browned.
Set salmon, skin side down, in hot pan. Sear, without touching or trying to move salmon, for approximately 4 minutes per 1/2 inch thickness. Salmon will begin to cook from the bottom up- turning from pale pink to a whiter, less translucent hue. Salmon is ready to flip when the fish has cooked approximately 3/4 of the way through.
Use thin metal spatula to flip salmon. If salmon sticks to the pan, allow it to cook another 30 seconds and try again until it's loosened.
Once salmon is flipped, sear it for about 1 minute. Remove salmon from pan, and cover it with a paper towel to keep it hot.
Turn heat down to medium. Stepping back in case of splashback, add amaretto to the pan. Next, add cherries and the reserved lemon juice. Simmer cherries for about 2 minutes. While cherries sear, smash them with the back of a spoon to release juices.
Serve salmon immediately with almonds and cherries.
*Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal, and was calculated specifically for king salmon.