How to cook sockeye salmon without drying it out?

I'm going to be pan frying sockeye salmon steaks tonight. They are about 2/3 inch thick. But unlike Atlantic salmon, they have no visible fat in the flesh. What can I do to ensure they do not dry out (as I have had happen in the past!)?


  • Posted by: Maryann
  • July 18, 2016


elaine November 28, 2018
I fry because I like the crunchy skin.....I cook them shorter so a little pink in the middle but still dry....if I don't fry I don't have the crunchy skin..."I want my skin and eat it too" I lost?
QueenSashy July 18, 2016
Well, it is a lean fish to start with. I would much rather poach or cure it. But if you still prefer the pan, use high heat and a lots of oil, and as Phil said, just a brief encounter with the flame.
pierino July 18, 2016
Cooking salmon fillet's en papillote is another tried and true method for cooking salmon. Individual portions each in it's own parchment envelope. You can find a number of recipes here including my own.
Uncle J. July 18, 2016
Adding to creamtea's answer, putting fennel stalks under fish on the grill is traditional and delicious.
PHIL July 18, 2016
I agree that the poaching option is a good choice if Maryann wants to change from pan frying. Personally I like any salmon oven roasted.
creamtea July 18, 2016
Kenji Lopez-Alt described a method in Cook's Magazine. It's not linked on his site but he describes it in a post on his site:
"Yes, that was my recipe. I used lemon slices, sliced shallots, and the stems from whatever herbs you're using (reserving the leaves for a vinaigrette that forms the sauce at the end) to make a platform on the bottom of the skillet for the salmon to rest on, which prevents the bottom of the salmon from overcooking from coming in contact with the hot pan.

At the end, I reduce the liquid, strain it, then combine it with a few other ingredients to form a vinaigrette to serve over the salmon. This recipe looks great as well.

Afraid I can't link to the Cook's recipe, since it's on their subscription-based site..."

You use a shallow pan, slice an onion and use the slices as a platform at the bottom of the pan to insulate the fillets from direct heat. Here's a recipe of mine from the current Salmon contest on the site using the same method: . If you look at the picture, you can get the idea of Kenji's method. He used white wine and herbs instead of sake. You could use water for a similar result.
Nancy July 18, 2016
Poach it in olive oil with herbs...delicious, most, subtly flavored.
I favor rosemary but there are suggestions for thyme, etc.
Expensive in terms of the oil, but you can filter & reuse the oil at least once.
See attached for ideas and recipes...
Nancy July 18, 2016
That should read: delicious, MOIST, subtly flavored.
PHIL July 18, 2016
Just don't cook it so long. The fish will still finish cooking even off the flame. it's only 2/3 thick so it will cook in minutes.
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