One-Pot Wonders

Sesame Encrusted Salmon with Pinot Noir Reduction

May 13, 2010
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

This salmon has few ingredients, but when they all come together—heaven! My husband developed this dish a few years back and I was so happy to be able to make it together tonight so that I was able to actually get it down on paper so that I can repeat it. I hope that you enjoy it as well.

A few notes: Make sure to gently flip (emphasis on gently) the salmon into the pan and then don’t touch or move it while it is first cooking—you want the sesame seeds to sear into the flesh of the fish, if you move it while it is in the first stage of cooking, they will slide off. So don’t get tempted! Another thing—this is best with a fillet from a salmon that is about 8 to 12 pounds, with a fillet about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in thickness, so that it can cook nicely in the pan only, and does not have to be finished off in the oven. If you do have a thicker cut, just throw it in a 375° F oven for a few minutes to finish off the cooking. Finally, this is great with the Pinot Noir, but if you don’t have or don’t like it, any dry red wine will do. But I have to say, the Pinot Noir was amazing! Hope you enjoy! —coffeefoodwrite

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Coffeefoodwritergirl is a longtime Food52 member with over 60 recipes on the site!
WHAT: A simple, seared salmon—with a crunchy, sesame-nutty crust and a quick red wine pan sauce.
HOW: Pave a fillet of salmon with sesame seeds, drizzle with oil, then sear in a hot pan. The pan sauce practically makes itself: Deglaze the pan with Pinot Noir, scrape up the brown bits, then reduce to a spoonable glaze.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Fancy salmon goes weeknight-friendly: The seeds really do stick into the flesh, making for a lovely, flavorful crunch. (Do be careful flipping your fillet!) the sesame flavor is definitely there, and goes surprisingly well with both Pinot Noir and salmon. It's a weeknight dinner we'll be returning to often. —Mary Beth

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound salmon fillet, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick (wild if possible)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cups sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups Pinot Noir or other dry red wine, divided
  1. Blot salmon with paper towel to remove all excess moisture.
  2. Dust exposed flesh with a liberal dose of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Completely cover exposed flesh with sesame seeds, enough to form a nice layer over the top. Drizzle liberally with 1/4 cup olive oil.
  4. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan—you don’t want it swimming, only enough to just prevent sticking). When pan and oil are hot, flip and slip salmon in gently, skin-side up, so sesame seeds do not fly off. Sear for approximately 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown. Do not give into the temptation to toss or move salmon fillet. Let it sit there so sesame seeds get seared into flesh of salmon. Sprinkle more salt and freshly ground pepper over exposed skin.
  5. When golden brown, flip fillet over and cook for another two minutes or so.
  6. Pour 3/4 cup red wine over salmon, lower heat to medium or just above, and let cook another five minutes or so. Sauce should be boiling quite vigorously, but you don’t want it to burn or smoke, so adjust the temperature as needed.
  7. When cooked through, but still slightly pink in center, remove to serving platter and place flesh-side up.
  8. Keep sauce boiling on medium heat and add additional 3/4 cup red wine. Lower heat to medium-low and let reduce for about another five minutes, stirring occasionally to release and loosen all those great cooked bits and flavor from the pan. Cook for about an additional five minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by half. Adjust for salt if necessary.
  9. Pour sauce over fillet. Garnish with parsley and serve. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • drbabs
  • coffeefoodwrite
  • ErinC
  • Garry Higgins
    Garry Higgins
  • NakedBeet

25 Reviews

Lynette M. October 28, 2020
I made this last night & it was the BEST!! All of the flavors blended together beautifully! I will DEFINATELY make it again!
coffeefoodwrite October 28, 2020
So happy you liked it! :-)
drbabs April 8, 2016
Congratulations on being a finalist! Love this!
coffeefoodwrite April 8, 2016
Wow! Thanks drabs! xx
Mistral19 May 1, 2013
Tried this tonight. Turned out very good and would definitely make this again! One issue though, Med high heat was too high for my fish - the seeds burned at 5 minutes and when I added in the wine, the oil started popping - wine everywhere! I would put it at med. Made it with a nice roasted garlic mashed potato and sugar snap peas. Lovely colours!
coffeefoodwrite May 1, 2013
Thanks for the tip on the medium heat! Glad that you liked the recipe. :-)
coffeefoodwrite February 26, 2013
Glad you enjoyed it!
ErinC February 26, 2013
Made this last night--very flavorful, and loved the texture the sesame seeds brought to the dish!
Garry H. January 8, 2013
Any suggestions on how to accompany this?? Would a nice arugula salad work??
coffeefoodwrite January 8, 2013
Hi Garry,

Yes, Arugula salad would work great. I also like to serve this with a side of roasted asparagus w/ shaved parmesan.
bottomupfood January 6, 2013
Am in the middle of the recipe and everything has worked so far. Just want to note that it would be helpful if the language could be tightened on step 8. It's unclear whether the instructions to reduce for 5 minutes are unnecessarily repeated or whether we are to reduce for a total of 10 minutes.
maggiesara August 8, 2012
I'm afraid this was really not successful for me. The salmon was very overcooked, to my taste -- though granted, I tend to like it considerably more rare than "slightly pink in the center" -- and the reduced wine just tasted sour, with no nuance.
Chef_Ian February 14, 2012
Excellent recipe! The fish gets so tender, and the wine infuses it with an excellent flavor! This is definitely something I will make again.
cincoymaya November 21, 2011
I just made this tonight and it was delicious, very easy to do. I reduced the wine a bit too much and since I needed more sauce I added a bit of cream to the reduced wine.
coffeefoodwrite November 22, 2011
Glad you liked it! Haven't made it in a I'm going to have to have it again! The cream is a great idea.....
NakedBeet May 28, 2010
This looks great, can't wait to try it.
coffeefoodwrite May 28, 2010
Thanks, let me know how it turns out!
drbabs May 20, 2010
Hi! I'm so excited to be testing this for Editors' Pick this weekend--it's my husband's birthday and his best friend is coming to dinner--this is a great recipe and I know we will all love it.
coffeefoodwrite May 20, 2010
Hi drbabs! So glad to hear you are testing this -- just a note -- make sure to use the smallest amount of oil possible in the pan when you go to sear the salmon -- otherwise the sesame seeds will sort of slide off and you want them to be able to sear into the meat -- let me know how it turns out and have a wonderful birthday celebration for your husband!
drbabs May 20, 2010
Thanks for the tip--looking forward to this!
coffeefoodwrite May 27, 2010
Hi drbab! So happy that your husband and guests liked this at his b'day party!
drbabs May 27, 2010
We all really loved it--and I got to have lefovers for lunch!
coffeefoodwrite May 14, 2010
Thanks, guys!
This really looks great! And LOVE the photo.
aargersi May 14, 2010
This looks amazing - love the sesame seeds cooked in ... really nice photo!!!