Wild-caught Sockeye Salmon Piccata is so luscious and buttery delicious. It combines perfectly cooked sockeye salmon fillets and lemony piccata sauce. This recipe might become your favorite way to prepare salmon.
There are different salmon varieties to choose from. Just one variety is in the Atlantic Ocean…Atlantic Salmon.
5 varieties of salmon come from the Northern Pacific Ocean. Coho, chinook, chum, pink, and sockeye are found in the North Pacific. Chinook, also known as King Salmon is one of the most desirable types of salmon and often the most expensive. It also has a huge population and is a sustainable source of quality salmon.
But, for my money, the Wild Sockeye Salmon is the tastiest. They are also known as Red Salmon or Copper River Salmon, (from the Copper River in Alaska).
The flesh of the sockeye salmon is a deep red color and quite delicate.
The best way to cook it is in a hot skillet and just for a couple of minutes. Sockeye salmon are smaller fillets than other varieties and are usually sold as a full fillet that is 1 to 1 1/2 pounds. The thickest part is only about 3/4 inches thick and the cooking time is minimal.
Preparing The Salmon Fillet
For the quick cooking method that I’m using here, the salmon skin needs to be removed. This is best done with a very sharp, flexible-bladed fillet knife. I have filleted hundreds of fish so this seems easy to me. If you haven’t had much experience skinning a fish, then watch Gordon Ramsay show you how. The secret is using a very sharp knife and holding tight to the skin while the knife does its work. You can also use a piece of paper towel to hold onto the slippery skin.
Now that you have a clean fillet, it should be cut into manageable portions so that they fit into a large skillet.
Frying the Salmon
The first step is to use a large skillet that has a lid and add about a tablespoon of high smoke point oil. Vegetable oil or ghee, (clarified butter), is a good choice for this. Olive oil has too low of a smoking temperature to use.
Turn your stove burner to medium-high heat and bring the oil to smoking temperature. This would be 400° to 425°F. Then turn the heat down to maintain this temperature.
Dry the flesh side of the salmon by patting it with paper towels and add salt and pepper. Carefully place the fillets into the hot pan flesh side down, (salmon skinned side up). Cover the skillet with a lid and set a timer for 2 and 1/2 minutes. No need to turn the fillets as the lid will create steam that cooks the fish through.
Immediately remove the salmon and place the fillets on a plate, seared side up. The temperature of the salmon should be about 120° to 125°F. Loosely cover the fish with tin foil and then start to prepare the piccata sauce.
Making the Picatta Sauce
Make sure that you have all the ingredients measured and ready to use. This sauce comes together pretty quickly.
Ingredients You Will Need
- 3 garlic cloves that are slivered
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons capers that are drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon of each kosher salt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons of butter cut into 1 tablespoon pats
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Using the same skillet that you cooked the fish in, add 2 or 3 teaspoons of oil and turn on medium heat. Place the garlic into the skillet and allow it to become fragrant which will take about 30 seconds.
Then stir in 2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour and cook the flour for 1 minute. Next, whisk in the white wine and water and add the capers, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Bring this to a slow boil and allow the liquid to evaporate and thicken. This should take about 4 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and add the butter a tablespoon at a time and stir to melt. Once the butter has melted, add about 2 tablespoons of chopped flat-leaf parsley.
Serve the salmon warm and covered with piccata sauce.
Can I use another variety of salmon?
You can use any type of salmon but the thickness of the fillets could be larger. You would need to cook the salmon for a longer time. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure that the fish is 120° to 125°F.
What does Piccata Style mean?
In Italian piccata means larded. Piccata style means cooked in a sauce of butter, lemon, and parsley.
What should I serve with sockeye salmon piccata?
Roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, angel hair pasta, lemon spiced rice, or buttered noodles would all be good with the piccata.
What could I use besides white wine for piccata?
Either vegetable or chicken broth would be flavorful. Just make sure to use low-sodium broth.
Here are a couple more salmon recipes to try:
Seared Sockeye Salmon Piccata Recipe
- 1 sockeye salmon fillet, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil or ghee, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, slivered
- 1 tsp. all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, sauvignon blanc or chardonnay
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 4 tbsp. butter in 1 tbsp. patties
- 2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp. (ea.) kosher salt and black pepper, plus more for the salmon fillets
- Remove the skin from the salmon fillet, and then cut the fish into individual portions of about 6 ounces each. Pat the flesh side of the fish dry with paper towels and then sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Use a large skillet with a lid and add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat on medium-high heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Turn the heat down to maintain a temperature around 400°F.
- Place the fillets flesh side down into the hot skillet and place the lid on the skillet. Fry the fish for 2 1/2 minutes then remove the fillets to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. The internal temperature should be 120° to 125°F.
- Using the same skillet on medium heat, add 2 or 3 more teaspoons of oil and add the garlic. Cook the garlic until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then stir in 2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour and cook for 1 minute to remove the raw flour flavor.
- Next, add the wine and water and whisk to dissolve the flour into the liquid. Then add the capers, lemon juice and zest, and, the salt and pepper. Bring this to a low boil and cook for 4 or 5 minutes to thicken.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the butter pats to melt. Then, add the chopped parsley. Serve the piccata sauce on the fish fillets.
- You may use a different variety of salmon and if it is thicker than 3/4 inch, it will need to cook longer. Up to 5 minutes for a 1 1/2" thick fillet. It is best to use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature. With salmon, it is best to undercook than to overcook.
- The piccata sauce would be perfect to use with any firm fish or chicken fillets.
This salmon is cooked perfectly and the piccata sauce compliments it so perfectly.