You can make this recipe with skin-on or skinless salmon. If it's skin-on, the skin will help hold the salmon fillets together when you turn them over in the pan. You can always easily remove the skin before serving, if you want. (We love the salmon skin, it's like salmon bacon!)
The salmon should just be barely cooked through, still a little translucent in the center, when you remove the pan from the heat. The fillets will continue to cook in their own heat for a minute or two. You can always return to the pan if the salmon is not quite cooked enough, but you can't go back if you've (sadly) overcooked the fish.
- 1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice or apple cider (not hard cider)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon slices for garnish
1 Make apple cider honey glaze: Put the apple cider and honey in a small shallow pan on medium high heat. Let it come to a boil and boil it until the mixture reduces by about half, leaving you with a little more than 1/4 cup of glaze. Let cool for a minute.
2 Let raw salmon fillets sit in prepared glaze: Arrange the salmon fillets (skin-side down, if using skin-on salmon fillets) in a rimmed dish large enough to fit all of the fillets in a single layer. Pour the honey cider glaze over the salmon.
Let it sit for 5 minutes, then turn the salmon pieces over and let sit for another 5 minutes in the glaze.
3 Place fillets in hot pan flesh side down: Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high. (It helps to use a relatively stick-free pan like hard anodized aluminum.) Sprinkle the flesh side of the salmon fillets with salt.
Place the fillets flesh side down (skin-side up) in the hot pan. Cook for 2 minutes on medium high heat.
As you cook the fish, brush the sides of the fillets with some of the glaze.
4 Turn fillets over so flesh side up: Turn the salmon fillets over (now skin-side down) and brush with the remaining honey cider glaze.
Sprinkle salmon with lemon juice. Lower the heat to medium. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the salmon is just barely cooked through.
5 Brush the cooked fillets with remaining pan glaze: Remove the pan from heat. Some of the glaze should have caramelized in the pan. Use a pastry brush to brush any pan juices over the top of the fillets.
Cover with foil to keep warm.
6 Wilt baby spinach: In a separate large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the baby spinach to the pan. Cook for a minute.
When the spinach begins to wilt, use tongs to turn the leaves over in the pan to help coat the leaves with a little butter.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue to cook a minute or two more until the spinach is wilted.
7 Serve: To serve, divide the spinach among 4 plates. Arrange a piece of salmon to the side or on top and garnish with a slice of lemon.