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Sautéed Salmon Recipe with Fennel Citrus Slaw

A couple of weekends ago, my friend Katherine McCoy and I decided to get together to cook salmon. Katherine abides mostly by a paleo-style of eating and is interested in introducing more salmon into her life. I realized that I don’t have a single salmon recipe on this blog so it was the perfect opportunity for us both to learn a bit more about salmon and have a couple of recipes under our belts for easy preparation.


This week I am presenting to you a sautéed salmon recipe with fennel citrus slaw. This was one of the recipes I developed for us to prepare that Saturday. The other is a blackened salmon with mango avocado salsa. Katherine has posted about her cooking experience and about salmon in general.


So let’s start with the topic of salmon, shall we? I’ll be honest, I haven’t always been a huge fan of salmon. I think it was mostly because I didn’t know how I liked it prepared. I’ve come to realize that I enjoy sautéed salmon much more than grilled salmon. The flavor of the sautéed salmon is more delicate than grilled. Once I realized that if I sautéed the salmon, I’d like it a lot more, and then I was in business.

For the purposes of our cooking day, Katherine and I wanted to try two different types of salmon. We bought four total filets – two sockeye salmon and two king salmon. Both were caught in the wild and purchased from Whole Foods. The price per pound isn’t exactly cheap ($14.99 & $17.99, respectively), but tasty, wild, sustainable fish is not cheap. Especially when it isn’t local, as with salmon. A lot of careful transportation is involved in getting ethically raised salmon to us here in New Orleans.

We figured that the salmon filets would taste different because they looked different and were from two completely different types of salmon. As you can see below, the meat is different in size and shape. So we cooked each type of salmon in the recipe preparation method to see if we liked one over the other any better. Suffice it to say, for me, both types of salmon tasted good with each preparation. I feel like the preparations were universal enough that the flavors could stand up to either type of salmon.


A barrier that people typically have with salmon (or fresh fish in general) is that they’re scared to cook it. They don’t want to mess it up. Well, I’ll tell you what – with a couple of simple preparation techniques under your belt, it’s possible to cook delicious fish in a fairly quick manner. This sautéed salmon recipe can be done in about 30 minutes. How’s that for quick and easy?

So let’s jump into the recipe… We first start by marinating the salmon. You can choose to do skin on or skin off, up to you. We kept the skin on in our recipes and didn’t notice a negative impact on flavor. Some of the skin was actually crisped enough to eat but other parts just came off the meat so we just kept that to the side.

OK, let’s back track just slightly… Something to keep in mind prior to marinating – when buying salmon fresh from the fish counter, it will likely still have pin bones. Katherine and I discovered that when we were going to prepare the salmon. If you run your fingers along the filet and feel some hard pricks, those are pin bones. The easiest way to remove them is with a set of needle nose pliers. Be sure to clean them very well if they come from your tool box. Needle nose pliers help to grip the pin bone for easy removal. They also help you to not tear up the salmon flesh in the process.


Now that the pin bones are removed, you can place the salmon in the marinade. The salmon should marinate in the refrigerator since fish is highly perishable. Do not leave it out on the counter to marinate. While the salmon is marinating, there’s ample time to prepare the citrus fennel slaw.


The most “complicated” part about the fennel citrus slaw is cutting the blood orange supremes. What we’re essentially doing here is “peeling” the insides of the blood orange so that none of the pith remains. All you have left are delicious segments of sweet, juicy blood orange. Below is a pictorial explanation of how to supreme citrus. You can also see a great demo here. After the supremes are finished, the rest of the recipe is just chopping, slicing and mixing. Pretty typical for a slaw.


Finally, we get to the salmon cooking. Most fish cook pretty quickly, and salmon is no exception. I like my salmon best at medium temperature. If overcooked, salmon gets dry and unappetizing. Aiming for medium cooked salmon allows for the texture change in the fish but keeps the filet moist and juicy. When Katherine and I tested the cooking, it took about 2 minutes per side for a 1/2″ thick salmon filet.  For us, it was cooked perfectly.


Below you see the finished cooked king salmon filet with fennel citrus slaw. As I said, we did cook both types of filets in each preparation. The king salmon was just a bit tastier in this preparation than the sockeye. The delicateness of the dill and fennel is likely the reason. However, the sockeye was perfectly delicious and if that’s all you have, don’t hesitate to use it.


Are you ready to tackle fish? Yeah? Cool, let’s do this!

Yield: 2 servings

Sautéed Salmon Recipe with Fennel Citrus Slaw

This sautéed salmon recipe cooks up quickly and is paired with a fennel citrus slaw for a healthy, paleo-friendly meal.


Marinating Salmon:
  • 1 blood orange, zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 salmon filets (4-6 ounces each)
Fennel Citrus Slaw:
  • 4 cups fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange zest
  • 1 cup blood orange supremes (4 medium sized oranges)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Cooking Salmon:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Marinating Salmon:
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a shallow container. Whisk well and add the salmon. Toss well to coat the salmon.
  2. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes while preparing the slaw.
Fennel Citrus Slaw:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Allow to rest in refrigerator while cooking the salmon.
Cooking Salmon:
  1. Remove the salmon from the marinade and gently pat down excess liquid.
  2. Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Sear for two minutes on each side. The salmon should be medium-medium well depending on how hot your flame was.
  3. Serve with a generous portion of fennel citrus slaw.

Prep:25 minutes

Cook:5 minutes

Total:30 minutes

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