15-Minute Sesame Seared Salmon

15 Minute Sesame Seared Salmon | www.kiwiandbean.com

I might get my amateur chef badge revoked for admitting this, but here goes: I’m afraid of frying fish. It’s the smell that intimidates me the most. Not so much the smell of the cooking fish, but the next-day house smell that lingers when you don’t want it to. What if a guest pops over unexpectedly? “I fried fish last night” I will mumble, my head bowed in smelly-house shame. 

But this is ludicrous, I’ve recently realized. In large part because modern technology has gifted us this amazing invention called the kitchen fan. And also because frying fish (let’s call it “sauteeing” because that sounds better) is faster and better than throwing it in the oven. To think what I’ve been missing all these years!

15 Minute Sesame Seared Salmon | www.kiwiandbean.com

Take salmon, a weekly staple around here and probably in many households across this land. Baking, roasting or broiling a few salmon filets is fine, and I’ve endorsed it myself on at least on occasion. But it seems no matter what recipe I use and how long I cook it for, it comes out drier and chewier than it ought to. I’ve doused it in sauces and oils to try and moisten it up a bit, which improves the situation but never quite solves it. And then there’s that oozy white goop that emerges from salmon during baking. Harmless, maybe, but kind of unappetizing, and I can’t help but think that maybe that’s the good stuff seeping out.

Good restaurants invariably sear their salmon in a hot pan, creating a crispy exterior and moist just-cooked interior. And yes, they may also douse it with a lush buttery sauce, but even without that sauce I reckon it’s a whole lot better than my usual baked version.

15 Minute Sesame Seared Salmon | www.kiwiandbean.com

So—unexpected guests be warned—I’ve started cooking my salmon on the stovetop. With salt and pepper in a thin skin of oil, and then finished with sesame oil and seeds. It couldn’t be simpler or quicker, really, but the end result is about as good as fish dinners get.

A few tips for the uninitiated:

  1. To get the crispy and browned exterior, be sure that your salmon fillets are very dry (pat them well with a paper towel) and that the pan and oil are very hot.
  2. Unless you are using a pan with non-stick coating, you might find your salmon stubbornly sticks to the pan, no matter how much oil you use. To remedy this, use a metal spatula to flip the salmon, getting right under the filet and almost scraping the bottom of the pan as you flip to make sure nothing is left behind.
  3. You can serve this salmon piping hot, room temperature or even cold. It’s delicious at any temperature. I like it atop a salad, but the kids prefer a deconstructed version: a few pieces of fish, some chunked-up veggies, and a handful of crackers or a slice of bread.
  4. Make sure you don’t overcook the fish. The beauty of cooking it on top of the stove is that you can use the profile of each filet as a doneness gauge. Watch as the side of each salmon piece gradually goes from red to pink, and remove it from the heat when a sliver of red remains in the center.

15 Minute Sesame Seared Salmon | www.kiwiandbean.com

5.0 from 6 reviews
15 Minute Sesame Seared Salmon
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 4 wild salmon filets (about 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1½ tablespoons cooking oil (I use avocado oil)
  • 1½ tablespoons sesame seeds
  1. Use a paper towel to pat dry the salmon filets, then brush them with 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of sea salt.
  2. Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet (cast iron works great) set over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, gently add the salmon filets flesh side down. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, then flip (use a metal spatula to get right under the salmon and make sure you don't leave any crusty bits) onto the skin side. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the salmon is barely cooked through. Be careful not to overcook it. (See note 4. above regarding how to use the profile of the salmon filet as a doneness gauge.)
  3. Remove the salmon from the heat, brush with the 1 tablespoon reserved sesame oil and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and remaining ½ teaspoon of sea salt.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.


28 Responses to 15-Minute Sesame Seared Salmon

  1. Peter241 May 28, 2018 at 3:08 am #

    Is not that a problem?

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  4. Jane @ Littlesugarsnaps July 6, 2015 at 5:09 am #

    Your salmon looks cooked to perfection and the salad the perfect companion

  5. Maggie July 5, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    I love salmon and I almost cook it exclusively on stove top, because I like the crispy skin! Wow, your pictures look so gorgeous and I want to cut a piece of the fish from my screen now!

  6. Kathleen | HapaNomNom July 4, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

    I absolutely love salmon, I would eat it everyday if I could! I love that you’ve cooked this in a sesame oil combo – I definitely have to try this! Pinning for sure. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  7. Dana July 4, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

    So simple, and so awesome. Salmon is amazing when done right (like this recipe here). Whenever people claim that they don’t enjoy salmon, I take it as a personal challenge to convert them!

    Great recipe 🙂

  8. Gemma July 4, 2015 at 6:13 am #

    This type of food I love to eat, simple flavours – well cooked. Looks ace!

  9. Agata July 3, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

    I’ve never cooked salmon this way; love the idea of sesame added into it

  10. Laureen Fox July 3, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

    Glad you got over your fear of frying fish. Recipe looks simply wonderful.

  11. Becky Winkler (A Calculated Whisk) July 3, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

    This sounds great! I love salmon and sesame and can’t wait to try them together. Pinning!

  12. Renee July 3, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    We eat salmon all the time. I like the simplicity of your recipe, it looks delicious!

  13. pam (Sidewalk Shoes) July 3, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    Nothing better than simple pan seared salmon! I love healthy salad you paired it with!

  14. Melissa (Upbeet, RD) July 3, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    Thanks for the tips! I love cooking salmon, but tend to over do it a little. I will remember to pat it dry now too!

  15. Sondi July 3, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Oh, I have to try this! I’ve never fried fish before – only put it in the oven. But it’s been SO hot here I haven’t use the oven in a few weeks. And anything with sesame oil has my vote.

  16. Anna (Hidden Ponies) July 3, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    This is gorgeous! I’m with you on the fish frying…it almost always hits the BBQ here 🙂

  17. Byron Thomas July 3, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    I love salmon… this looks great!

  18. Claudia | Gourmet Project July 3, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    Wow, sounds great!!!

  19. suki July 3, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    That looks quick and perfect! 🙂

  20. Victoria July 3, 2015 at 9:00 am #

    Great post! We have salmon weekly as well & run into some of the same issues you mentioned! Looking forward to trying this, this week! Thank you!

  21. Brian Jones July 3, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    I love simple fish dishes like this, if only I could get my hands on some salmon!

  22. Julia (@Imagelicious) July 3, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    This is my kind of recipe – minimum ingredients, minimum time, maximum flavour!

  23. Ninjamommers July 1, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

    Mmmm this looks delish. I need to try. We love salmon in this house!

  24. Mary July 1, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    I know what we will be having for diner, I have salmon in my fridge. Looks delicious!

  25. Lilac July 1, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    I’m a raw vegan so I don’t eat any animal products. Your veggies look so vibrant and tempting.

  26. Aimee Geroux July 1, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    This is definitely something my better half would love. I am not a huge seafood/fish eater but he loves it. Maybe I will totally shock him and make this for him for his birthday coming up!

  27. Suzanne Rudge July 1, 2015 at 1:35 am #

    I have actually had this before and loved it! I am a huge salmon fan, but love to try it in new ways and this is a fave for sure.

  28. Merry120 July 1, 2015 at 12:01 am #

    This recipe looks delicious. We love salmon. In fact, Evan calls it “the most delicious fish”.

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