Super easy yet super fabulous, this Brown Butter Pan Fried Salmon with Roasted Kumquats & Vegetables only takes 30 minutes and is flavoured with the amazingly rich, nutty flavour of brown butter and then drizzled with a creamy dill sauce made using the juices left in the roasting pan. A healthy, weeknight meal doesn’t come more impressive or flavourful than this!
A perfectly cooked salmon fillet with a side of roasted vegetables is what I’d call a “too good to be true” kind of weeknight meal. Something that tastes this incredible, and looks this impressive, shouldn’t be this easy to cook right? I mean as far as super easy/super fabulous meals go, there’s not much out there that can better this one. Sometimes we tend to fall into that steamed vegetables and meat trap when we think of quick and easy meals, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a salmon fillet and a few more ingredients you could get a legit restaurant-quality meal on your dinner table that’s fit for a fancy dinner party, in no time at all!
So if you have a beautiful salmon fillet and you’re looking for a quick and easy meal that looks deceptively fancy, and is cooked with even more flavour than you’d find in a high-end restaurant, this Brown Butter Pan fried Salmon with Roasted Kumquats & Vegetables is exactly what you’re looking for!
Perfectly cooked salmon, with a side of roasted vegetables that’s drenched in flavour – almost too good for a regular weeknight meal. But hey, that’s just how we roll.
We all know how delicious fish and citrus flavours go together right? The kumquats here work even better than you’d think. They are like mini oranges, with just a hint of bitterness. And as they roast, the sweetness concentrates, making them candy-like which balances out their slight tang and bitterness. Really kicks your taste buds into gear. Roasting vegetables brings out their inherent sweetness, so pairing them with bright citrus flavours is a great way to perk up those flavours even more!
And if you can’t find kumquats, use Meyer lemons instead (which are a bit sweeter and less tangy than regular lemons). Alternatively, you could use oranges, blood oranges or clementines as well.
Finding good salmon to cook here in mid-Missouri is just as hard as you’d expect. All the things I used to take for granted while living in the coast and in islands in years past, are coming back to mock me in my dreams (nightmares?) now. Salmon, fresh crabs, fresh shrimp, fruits like guava, passion fruit, lychees, key limes etc. etc. bloody etc.
The salmon I find here is mostly frozen and always ridiculously expensive. So it’s a rarity to find the kind of good salmon fillet that I got my hands on for this recipe and boy did I treat that baby like royalty!
Perfectly cooked to an internal temperature of 120°F with crispy, crackly skin, and deliciously moist & tender on the inside. Not chalky, dry or overcooked, just juicy and flavourful like it should be! I’ve been cooking salmon this way for ages, but if you guys would like to read more about how to perfectly pan fry salmon fillets, I definitely recommend this fantastic post by Serious Eats.
For a quick, easy to follow guide, here are some great tips that they provide in that article, for a perfectly pan fried salmon fillet.
1. Preheat the oil in the pan to make sure the skin heats up as fast as possible. This will prevent the salmon from sticking to the pan.
2. Pat dry the salmon fillet before it goes into the pan (skin side down).
3. Use a spatula to hold the fillet down to ensure even cooking.
4. Preheat the oil at high heat first and then reduce the heat when the salmon is added. This way you get crisp, perfectly rendered skin, and evenly cooked meat.
5. Don’t flip the fillet until it’s ready. Once flipped, pan fry the other side only for a minute or two.
So my next trick for imparting even more flavour to your pan fried salmon filet is to pan fry it in brown butter! Instead of the boring olive oil, just use a little bit of butter and then brown it till you turn those milk solids in the butter golden brown and fragrant, which brings out amazingly rich nutty flavours that will impart incredible flavour to your salmon. Browning butter is super simple, but you do have to keep an eye out to make sure it doesn’t burn. Check out this visual guide here for the different stages of browning butter and what you need to look out for.
I also used some of that brown butter to roast vine tomatoes, asparagus and kumquats in a roasting pan as well. You can get the recipe for that right here and read more about it. The veggies are tossed well in the brown butter to make sure that they absorb all those wonderful toasty, nutty flavours as well. When paired with the nutty flavour of brown butter, the sweetness and a touch of bitterness you get from kumquats make for a delightfully complex flavour profile. And by roasting them all on the same roasting pan, you make sure that the roasted vine tomatoes and roasted asparagus soak up all the juices and flavours on your roasting dish.
Next, I used the juices left in the roasting pan from the roasted vegetables, roasted kumquats, roasted garlic etc. to make a creamy dill sauce! Then drizzle it over the pan seared salmon and roasted veggies at the end and you got a bona fide gourmet meal that tastes unbelievably flavourful! You can of course just use the brown butter tomato juices left in the pan, but mixing it with cream and a fresh herb like dill that pairs perfectly with salmon is that last gourmet touch that completely elevates this dish! What’s even better is that it’s ridiculously east to put together. The veggies and kumquats are roasted in the oven and then you pan fry the salmon during the last 10 minutes of it. The whole meal is ready in 30 minutes but holy cow does it taste like pure heaven!
If not with salmon, you can try this with chicken, pork, beef or any kind of seafood. Or just the veggies on their own and as a side dish. 🙂
- 2 x 8 oz fresh salmon fillets
- Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp oil (olive oil or vegetable oil)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 vines of tomatoes (about 1 - 1.5 lbs)
- 1 - 2 bunches of asparagus
- ½ punnet of kumquats,
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Splash of cream (about 2 -3 tbsp)
- White wine or vegetable/chicken stock (as needed)
- Chopped dill
- Follow this recipe to roast the tomatoes, asparagus and kumquats - Roasted Tomatoes, Asparagus and Kumquats Recipe
- Prepare the salmon by patting the skin and flesh dry with a paper towel. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper on the skin side and set aside.
- During the last 15 minutes of roasting time, on medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of butter until it turns into brown butter (take care not to burn the butter, see this visual guide here for browning butter). Add the tbsp of olive oil.
- Place the salmon fillets skin side down in the non stick pan and reduce the heat to medium. Using a flat spatula, gently press down on the salmon fillets, so they maintain proper contact with the hot pan. Let them cook for 6-7 minutes, until the skin is crispy, and the salmon looks cooked half way up the sides.
- Sprinkle the flesh side generously with salt and pepper, and flip it over to cook on the flesh side for another 1-2 minutes, or until your meat thermometer registers 120°F when inserted into the thickest part of the salmon.
- Remove from the pan immediately, and place them on a plate, skin side up (to prevent the skin from getting soggy). Turn the heat to low and return the pan to the stove.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven. Divide the roasted vegetables into two plates. Place each piece of salmon ontop of the asparagus spears. Place some of the kumquats on top of the salmon.
- Transfer the juices and roasted garlic in the roasting pan, to the non stick pan on the stove. Add the chopped dill and cream and mix while crushing the garlic into the sauce.
- Add a splash of wine to dilute the sauce a little (if you prefer) and drizzle over the roasted vegetables and salmon. Serve immediately.
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