Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce

It’s always hard to plan for a fish meal around here, because it all depends on what the market has fresh. You can show up at the store with the best intentions of securing a thick halibut steak only to be disappointed with what clearly looks like it’s been sitting under the glass for a few days. Fish is best fresh, there’s no way around it. The fresher the better. So, the best attitude to approach the fish section is, what looks best? With whole fish, you can usually tell just by looking at the eyes – they should be clear, not foggy and sunken. With fillets, if the surface is dried out and tired looking, that’s not a good sign. The fillet should glisten, like it was just cut, and should smell fresh, not fishy.

The day we cooked this salmon, it was the best looking fish at the counter, and it did not disappoint. In fact, it was so good I called my dad over and told him to stop eating his lunch, wrap it up, and get over here to eat this salmon. Which of course he did, because when fish is good, it must be eaten immediately.

The recipe is simple. Just fillets fried in a high smoke point oil (we like to use grape seed oil) and served with a sauce made with lemon juice, stock, and cream. The recipe is adapted from an arctic char recipe we found in The Country Cooking of Ireland by Coleman Andrews.

We like to sauté skin-on salmon, because when the skin is crispy fried, there’s nothing better. It’s like salmon bacon. As for frying the salmon in the first place, well, even with fresh fish, it’s hard to avoid smelling up the kitchen as the salmon cooks. Just make sure you have your stove fan on high. If you really cannot abide by the odors of frying salmon, you can poach the salmon, and serve it with the same sauce.

Follow on Pinterest

Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

We used skin-on salmon for this recipe, but you can use skinless fillets if you want. The skin tastes great when it is fried and crispy. When buying skin-on fish, make certain the fish has been scaled. Ask your fishmonger to do this at the store.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (or fish stock or clam juice)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp canola or grape seed oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds skin-on salmon fillets
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley for garnish

Method

1 Pour the lemon juice, broth and cream into a small pot and bring to a simmer. Immediately drop the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer very gently for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2 While the sauce is cooking, rinse the salmon in cold water and check for any stray scales (if skin-on). Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Add the canola oil to a sauté pan large enough to fit the fish in one layer. Set the heat to high and let the pan heat up for 90 seconds.

salmon-lemon-cream-sauce-1.jpgsalmon-lemon-cream-sauce-2.jpg

3 Lay the fish skin side down in the hot pan and turn the heat down to medium. Salt the exposed side of the fish. Let this sizzle away steadily for 3-5 minutes, depending on how thick the fish is. An inch-thick fillet will take about 5 minutes. With a metal spatula, turn the fish, making sure the skin remains attached to the salmon. Salt the skin side of the fish. Cook for another 1-5 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your fish. We like our salmon a little rare in the center, so we cook the second side of a 1-inch fillet about 3 minutes.

4 Set the salmon down on the plate skin side up, then pour some of the sauce over it. Garnish with the parsley and serve at once.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

Links:

Salmon and Asparagus with Lemon - from Kalyn's Kitchen
Slow Cooked Salmon - from Steamy Kitchen
Smoked Salmon Chowder - from TasteFood

24 Comments

  1. Marsha @ The Harried Cook

    Simple and perfect! I love dishes like these… My kind of food! :)

  2. Ben

    So easy and beautiful. And I bet it’s delicious too.

  3. pat b

    I love that you seem to have such a lovely relationship with your dad. I got all misty thinking about you telling him to wrap up his lunch and come to share yours. Aren’t you both lucky.

    Love your stuff. Tons of recipes have become our family standards. I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to tell you before now. Thanks.

  4. Jessica J

    I love salmon and this lemon-cream sauce sounds like the perfect complement to the fish! Yum!

  5. Kalyn

    It sounds delicious, and I think lemon is the perfect flavor to to with the fish. Love the sound of this lemony sauce. Thanks for the mention of my Salmon and Asparagus with Lemon too; always appreciated.

  6. Paul

    Sauciers from the past are spinning in thier graves. This looks quite good and while the sauce works, I believe it could be improved with a couple simple steps. Put the stock in the pan as you outline in your recipe, do not cover and reduce, while the salmon is cooking. Remove the salmon from the pan when done and dump any residual oil (at this point I would add some shallots and saute, a minute or two but that is optional). Pour lemon juice into pan, then the stock and heavy cream. Reduce until the desired consistance but not to the point that the cream starts to separate, and serve. If the cream separates a bit add just a tablespoon more cream and swirl and it will come back together.

  7. Cary

    One of my absolute favorite restaurant meals and the only way I ever end up making salmon is an amped up version of this! Dust the salmon in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and rubbed sage before cooking. Saute minced shallots to start the lemon cream sauce, deglaze wine, add lemon, stock and cream, reduce. Add capers, diced tomato and ulienne basil at the end before tpping the salmon. Absolutely perfect.
    Thanks for the reminder to buy some salmon soon!

  8. Julia {The Roasted Root}

    Ohhh girl, I have never made salmon with a cream sauce and this sounds brilliant! I tend to make salmon the same way over and over again…I have been stuck in my salmon ways. I love fish, so it looks to me like it is time to experiment. Kudos to you for leaving this skin on – this is where most of the good fats are and I think a lot of people take that for granted. I share your sentiment regarding the hardship of finding good fish at the market, but yours looks like a nice fresh cut! Thanks for the great idea.

  9. Shawn

    Wow, that sounds delicious! Thanks!

  10. Dwayne

    My mouth is watering just by looking at it. I borrowed your recipe for home use. Thank you!

  11. Tracy

    Salmon bacon – what a great way to describe it!

    I agree – crispy skin salmon is awesome. I often don’t even bother if the salmon is in good nick and the skin nice and crispy.

    If I do a sauce, I usually just make a kinda-sorta buerre blanc using the fish juices, wine and butter.

    One of the other ways I like it is to use Szechuan pepper and salt on the skin, and serve with white rice and bok choi (Maybe add a splash of light soy over the fish on serving)

  12. Regina

    I love salmon, and this recipe sounds delicious!

  13. Chicbaker123

    Fried salmon skin is the best! Last week, my parents deskinned a large portion of salmon and fried up the strips of skin. Eat them side by side! Dip both in some tartar sauce, serve with rice and greens, and it’s one of the best meals.

  14. Mary Morris

    Oooh, the rich cream infused with the tartness of the lemon poured over a crispy skinned salmon fillet sounds heavenly, served with white rice and fresh, young sauteed asparagus in season..A quick and perfect meal complimented with a good glass of wine – Mary

  15. Alicia

    Absolutely delicious and yet so simple. This will definitely be in my salmon rotation (when I am not making the panko crusted one!) Thanks for a great dinner!

  16. Alicia

    I should have also added that my 20 month old gobbled this up! She was about to lick the cream off the plate!!

  17. Horst D Heller

    In preparation of any fish, I always rinse the fish under cold running water first, soak it with plenty of lemon juice and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes depending on what fish I am using. Than salt it lightly and cook immediately. (A hint – never let any fish soak to long in lemon juice or any other asset containing liquid, it’ll loose firmness on the outside.).) I would not push the subject with the burned skin too much, It’ll be a matter of personal taste.

  18. Sleeping Mom

    Our family really enjoyed this recipe! I like the cream and lemon flavor over salmon. Thank you for sharing!

  19. Jen

    Try adding a bit of dill to the sauce, it really adds more depth to an already delicious base.

  20. Jamie cortiaus

    It curdled. Bummer.

  21. Jamie Cortiaus

    My sauce curdle at first, but then I kept stirring and it came together. I was a little freaked out because I had 2 1/2 lbs of salmon cooked and had doubled this sauce recipe.
    EVERYONE love it.
    You always have such great recipes.

  22. Ahsan

    I tried this today, it turned out great! As a new cook I struggle with cooking times – your instructions were SPOT ON!

    I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes now.

  23. Nels Wight

    Salmon Chowder. Never had as good a fish chowder
    until I lived in Alaska, Better than any other fish!

  24. Amy

    Bland. If I make it again, I’d say half as much cream, and 2x as much lemon and broth….and add salt.

Post a comment

Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.

Some HTML is OK. URLs are automatically converted to links. Line breaks are automatically converted to paragraphs. The following HTML tags are allowed: a, abbr, acronym, b, blockquote, cite, code, del, em, i, q, strike, strong