Easy Salmon Piccata in just 30-Minutes!

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This salmon piccata recipe is an easy gourmet meal, ready in just 30-minutes! Plus, clean-up is a breeze—I pan-sear the fish forming a crispy golden crust, then make a tangy lemon caper sauce all in the same pan.

salmon piccata in a skillet
Table of Contents
  1. Salmon selection
  2. Preparing the fish
  3. Dry thoroughly and season
  4. Pan selection
  5. The pan-searing technique
  6. How to make the piccata sauce
  7. Serve this with
  8. FAQ
  9. Salmon Piccata Recipe

If you’re looking for a fast yet fancy seafood dinner, grab some salmon fillets, and you’re in for a treat. The bright orange flesh packs nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids for numerous health benefits, so it’s a great addition to your diet. Pan-searing creates a beautiful crispy golden crust, but afterward, there’s a ton of flavor left in the pan.

Don’t let those residual bits go to waste! Make a bright and citrusy piccata sauce with a bold mix of lemon, capers, white wine, and capers. The tangy flavors perfectly balance the rich and flaky salmon. Pair with freshly steamed rice, pasta, or veggies for a gourmet meal made right at home.

ingredients portioned on a table with labels

Salmon selection

You can use any type of salmon for this recipe. I recommend Scottish or Atlantic varieties for their buttery and flaky texture. Or you can splurge on King (chinook) for its nutty flavor, its pricey but worth it for special occasions. Otherwise, Wild Alaskan salmon has a deep red color if you’re okay with a firmer texture.

Preparing the fish

I like to purchase a whole side of salmon, preferably center cut. You get more for your money and can control the size of the pieces for even cooking. You have to do a bit of butchering (which is quite fun!) to remove the skin and cut it into portions, but it’s a great skill to learn and practice.

Trim off the thin tapered sides of the fillet, then cut them into about 2-inch wide pieces, around 6-ounces in weight. You can make them larger for heartier portions if desired. If the extra work isn’t your jam, most grocery stores sell skinned and portioned fillets. They are more pricey per pound but a convenient choice.

person pressing down on a salmon fillet with paper towel

Dry thoroughly and season

To ensure a super crisp browned surface on the fillets, dry them well. I use a paper towel to soak up the moisture on the top and bottom. This technique prevents the seafood from steaming instead of searing. 

It’s also safer to pan-fry dried salmon because any residual water that comes into contact with the hot oil will pop and splatter, so be careful! Right before cooking, season with salt and pepper. Don’t salt too early in your prep, or this will draw out too much internal moisture to the surface, which we want to avoid.

Pan selection

You can use either a stainless steel pan or a nonstick pan. Although, I prefer stainless steel for even heat distribution. Make sure to preheat the pan before adding the oil to create a nonstick surface. It’s also easier to see the sauce develop and emulsify in a lighter color pan. However, if you feel more comfortable using a nonstick pan, especially if you’re new to cooking salmon, grab that instead.

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