This decadent salmon meunière is based on Julia Child’s classic French dish sole meunière, and features pan-seared fish served with a lemon and butter sauce.
It’s no secret that we love salmon.
One of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy salmon, though, is pan-seared and topped with butter sauce. It’s really one of the best things in life.
This salmon meunière is inspired by Julia Child’s fish meunière. I usually cook fish meunière with white fish, but I have to say, it’s just as exceptional with salmon.
What Does Meunière Mean?
Meunière is French for “in the manner of the miller’s wife,” and refers to fish that’s been dusted in flour and cooked in butter.
Because, you know, apparently the miller’s wife loved butter. Who can blame her?
This salmon meunière isn’t a completely traditional meunière, because I skip the flour. In my opinion, the flour is not necessary here, because the salmon will crisp up and develop a crisp skin without the flour.
If you prefer to add the flour, simply dust the salmon with a little flour before adding it to the hot pan.
Do I Need To Use Clarified Butter?
Traditional meunière uses clarified butter.
In her book Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, Julia recommends using a mixture of oil and (regular, non-clarified) butter instead of clarified butter.
It’s a shortcut (and a good one!). The oil keeps the butter from browning quickly.
Since I don’t generally have clarified butter on hand, I (almost always) use Julia’s oil and butter trick.
If you prefer to use clarified butter, you can. I like this clarified butter tutorial from Serious Eats.
How to Make Salmon Meunière
Start by patting your salmon fillets dry.
Season them with salt and (optionally) season lightly with paprika. Set the fish aside.
Meanwhile, add butter and oil to a heavy pan. I use this Lodge 12″ carbon steel skillet.
When the butter melts, add the fish skin-side down.
Avoid touching the fish as it cooks.
Watch the salmon to know when it’s time to flip. As it cooks, the salmon will turn opaque from the bottom up.
Remove the fish from the pan.
Add a little lemon juice and stir, stir, stir. Make sure to scrape up any bits of fish that stuck to the pan.
Stir in a few herbs, and you’re done!
- 8 ounces salmon (2 fillets)
- pinch salt, pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter or clarified butter Or use extra olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Handful fresh herbs (parsley, chives, basil, cilantro etc)
- Pat salmon dry. Sprinkle fillets on both sides with salt, pepper and the paprika (if using).Allow fillets to rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes. (Cold salmon is more difficult to sear.)
- Add olive oil and butter to a heavy pan. Melt butter over medium heat. Place the fillets skin-side down in the pan and cook 2-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. (If your salmon fillets don't have skin, it doesn't matter which side you cook first.)As the salmon cooks, the flesh will begin to turn opaque from the bottom up. When the fish has cooked halfway through, it's ready to flip.Avoid touching the fish until the fish is ready to flip.
- Use a thin metal spatula to test the fish. If you can slide the spatula under the fish without the fish sticking to the pan, it's ready to flip. If the fillets won't release, give them another 30 seconds. They'll release when they've finished cooking.Cook fish another 2-4 minutes until done. Timing will depend on the thickness of the fillet. (Watch the sides of the fillets to see when the fish is done cooking. It's finished as soon as there are no more translucent patches and it's fully opaque.)
- Transfer the fish to plates, leaving the excess butter in the pan. Cover fish to keep warm, or set fish in a 200ºF oven.Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the lemon juice to the pan, stir with a wooden spoon, and allow the juice to reduce for about a minute. Add half the herbs and turn off the heat. Serve fish hot with pan sauce and remaining herbs.
- Make sure to pat the fish dry. Wet fish won’t develop a crispy skin.
- Make sure to let the fish rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Cold fish tends to stick to the pan.
- Test the fish with a thin metal spatula before attempting to flip. If the fish doesn’t release, give it another 30 seconds and try again.
- If your butter and oil begin to smoke, lower the heat slightly.
- Have all your ingredients prepared before beginning so that you can watch the fish carefully while it cooks. I prep everything while the fish rests at room temperature.
- The skin is edible!
- Salmon may be plated skin-side up or skin-side down.
- To keep the skin crispy longer, especially if holding the fish in a warm oven before serving, store cooked fillets skin-side up to keep the skin from becoming soggy.