I am one of those people who only makes the same meal twice or maybe three times a year. What can I say? I love variety! BUT I find myself craving this crispy salmon with garlicky preserved lemon yogurt on a weekly basis. Today I am finally sharing the recipe!
I see a lot of salmon recipes without the skin – or worse with soggy skin that’s not even eaten. All recipes certainly have their place, but crispy salmon skin is a revelation that is not to be wasted! It has little to no fishy flavor and tastes similar to crispy chicken skin (although it is a bit thinner). It’s so good! And it is also pretty easy but feels fancy. Even if you don’t want to make the yogurt sauce you have to try this method for the salmon.
I used to think a screaming hot pan is key to get shatteringly crisp salmon skin. The opposite is actually true. While you want to start with a hot skillet, once you add the salmon (skin-side down) immediately lower the heat to just under medium-low. The hot pan gets things started while lowering the heat keeps the skin from burning in turn allowing it to fry properly. This method gets the skin perfectly crispy so long as you baby the salmon like a crazed helicopter parent by continually pressing the skin down into the pan twice a minute. That’s right: the salmon is now your child for the next eight minutes. Once that time passes, flip it over until the top finishes cooking through and you have the crispiest salmon around.
Fish and lemon is a classic and down right delicious combo, so preserved lemon is a natural twist along the same flavor profile. Preserved lemon is a bit more floral and lacks all the bitterness lemon has. It has a strong bite with a slightly fermented funky edge going on. Preserved lemon is also super salty. I think the perfect ratio is 1/2 tbsp. of lightly packed, finely diced preserved lemon rind (flesh removed and rind rinsed) to 1/3 cup of plain greek yogurt. The finer you dice the preserved lemon, the less strong it tastes because you are not getting these larger chunks in a single bite. In other words, the flavor is more distributed. So keep this in mind when adjusting the amount to taste. Note that brands of preserved lemons and homemade versions all have unique flavor and salinity levels, so you may need to increase or decrease the amount. Luckily the sauce is so easy to make, you can start small, taste it and go from there. Like with all things, the yogurt tastes less strong combined with the fish and sides than it does straight from the bowl. This in another thing to keep in mind when seasoning to taste.
I love serving this crispy salmon and garlicky preserved lemon yogurt with lemon pepper rice and sautéed kale. I like this combo so much I have provided the recipes for both sides below if you’re interested! Happy eating!
Crispy Salmon with Garlicky Preserved Lemon Yogurt
Servings: 1 (increase servings as needed following the same ratios)
Time: 10 minutes
- one salmon filet, skin-on (about 5-6 ounces)
- 1/3 cup of plain, full-fat greek yogurt
- 1 large garlic clove, minced or grated
- 1/2 tbsp. of lightly packed minced preserved lemon rind (flesh removed and rinsed)
- lemon pepper
- Preheat a skillet on medium until hot but not smoking (about 2 minutes).
- Dry the salmon very well, focusing on the skin.
- Salt the salmon skin.
- Add some cooking oil to the skillet and place the salmon in the pan, skin-side down.
- Immediately reduce the heat to just under medium-low.
- Sprinkle the flesh of the salmon with lemon pepper and salt.
- Using a spatula or spoon, continuously press the salmon skin down into the pan. This ensures it crisps evenly without gaps. Make sure you push it down all over so it fries evenly. Repeat this 2 times (or more) every minute for 8 minutes.
- Make sure that the oil is continuing to bubble and fry the skin. If it stops then increase the heat a wee bit.
- Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce by combining the preserved lemon rind, garlic, and yogurt. Stir, taste, and adjust seasoning.
- After 8 minutes, turn the heat up to high while pushing the salmon down continually. Let it cook skin-side down for another 30 seconds or so, then flip.
- When you serve the salmon, make sure you keep the skin up or it will soften. The skin will also start to soften a bit over time, so serve right away for crispiest texture.
Note: Salmon may cook faster is filets are particularly thin. You should flip the salmon when it is almost opaque throughout, except for on the top. Adjust the time if needed by flipping earlier.
Lemon Pepper Rice
Time: 55 minutes
- 1/4 cup of brown rice
- 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
- 1/3 tsp. lemon pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- glug of olive oil
- Add all ingredients to a sauce pan.
- Add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil.
- Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Turn off heat. Stir and fluff rice. Cover again and set aside for 10 minutes to finish.
Note: If not using brown rice then adjust cooking time according to package directions.
Simple Sautéed Kale
Time: 8 minutes
- 1/2 bunch of kale, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 shallot
- 1/2 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
- lemon wedge
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- Dice shallot and add to a pan with the butter and EVOO. Heat over medium until shallot starts to turn golden.
- Mince or grate garlic and add to shallots. Cook an additional minute.
- Add chopped kale and stir to distribute shallots and garlic evenly throughout kale leaves. Add some salt and red pepper flakes.
- Allow kale to cook for 3 minutes until wilted and tender. When desired texture is reached, add lemon juice and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.