There are a lot of reasons to make this Salmon Steak Recipe, but for one, the high flesh to skin ratio means more flesh comes in contact with the hot pan. Which means more browning. Which means flavor. If you love salmon like I do, then salmon steaks are a must!

Plus, they are an absolute stunning piece of protein to serve guests. They look elevated and restaurant-worthy, but are no more work than a fillet of salmon. 

With more than 25 salmon recipes on my site, it’s no surprise than I’ve been cooking salmon at least once a week for years now. And salmon steaks are a favorite. They’re stunning, celebratory and just as easy to make as any salmon fillet. Plus, like any simple salmon recipe, they are incredibly versatile and can be served with any number of veggie side dishes. 

For this recipe, I like to keep it simple and season the fish with just salt and pepper. Though you can coat them in any dry seasoning blend or rub you have on hand. But why season just the outside when you can also season the inside? Just 15 to 30 minutes in the saltwater brine seasons the fish and helps retain moisture during cooking. 

And finally, avoid the annoyance of picking out bones while eating salmon steaks by deboning the steaks beforehand. It’s a simple technique that takes doing it just once to get the hang of. The result is an evenly cooked piece of fish that won’t require picking out bones while you eat it.

Pepper grinder, salmon steaks on a baking sheet, salt, oil and cornstarch set out on a counter.
Pepper, Salmon, Oil, Salt and Cornstarch

Ingredients Needed 

  • Kosher salt: I develop recipes using Morton kosher salt. If you’re using Diamond Crystal, use 2 tablespoons more than called for. 
  • Salmon Steaks: salmon steaks can vary greatly in size depending on where you buy them. I’ve found salmon steaks that weigh as little as 4 ounces and as much as 15 ounces. Luckily, this recipe works with any size of steaks! 
  • Cornstarch: just a few tablespoons are needed to coat the salmon before pan-searing. The starch encourages browning and creates a nice crust on the salmon as it cooks. 
  • Oil: use a neutral, high heat cooking oil such as avocado oil, canola oil or vegetable oil. 

Salmon Steaks vs Fillets 

Salmon fillets are formed by first cutting the salmon in half lengthwise, top to bottom, to create two identical halves. The halves are then cut crosswise to create fillets. 

Salmon steaks, on the other hand, are formed by cutting the salmon crosswise, top to bottom, all the way down the fish. Each steak has two large flat slides of flesh, a thin band of skin around it and part of the spine in the center. 

Salmon fillets are generally cooked skin side down and often flipped (or broiled) to brown the flesh side. With salmon steaks, because of the way they are cut, one or both of the flesh sides are in contact with the hot cooking surface. This offers more opportunity for crisp salmon but also poses more potential for sticking to pans and grill grates. Which is why it’s so important to preheat your pan and oil!

How to Make Salmon Steaks 

  1. Brine the Salmon
Raw salmon steaks in a large plastic container filled with water.

This step is optional and can be skipped if you’re short on time. That being said, it seasons the fish and keeps the fish moist during cooking (helps the protein molecules hold onto moisture).

In a large container, whisk together the water and the salt until the salt has dissolved. Add the salmon steaks, ensuring they are fully submerged, set let brine at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

  1. Debone the Salmon

Remove the salmon from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Working with one steak at a time, remove the spine by first locating the white line at the top of the steak. 

Knife cutting along spine of raw salmon steak set on a white plastic cutting board with a boning knife, tweezers and set of kitchen scissors set next to it.

Using a paring knife or boning knife, cut along 1 side of the white line, around the spine, then along the membrane inside the belly flap. Repeat the process on the other side of the white line.

Using kitchen scissors, cut out and discard the spine and membrane near the top of salmon steak. 

A set of hands using kitchen shears to remove spine from a salmon steak.

Run your fingers along the interior of the steak where the spine was removed; use kitchen tweezers to remove and discard any pin bones (they should slide out easily). 

A set of hands using a boning to trim skin from salmon steak set on a white plastic cutting board.

Carefully remove about 1 inch of skin from one belly flap.

A set of hands rolling a salmon steak into a roll on a white plastic cutting board.

Then tuck and roll skinned belly flap into steak to create a round steak.

Raw salmon steak rolled into a circle on a white cutting board with a set of hands securing salmon steak with a toothpick.

Secure with one or two toothpicks. Repeat with the remaining steaks. 

  1. Season and Coat in Cornstarch 
Raw salmon steaks coated in cornstarch on a sheet pan.

Since the salmon has been brined, it won’t need too much additional salt. Season both sides lightly with salt and pepper then dredge in cornstarch

  1. Pan-Sear the Salmon
Two pan-seared salmon steaks in a stainless steel sauté pan.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering (the oil should look like it’s vibrating). Add 2 steaks to the skillet and cook until the bottom side is lightly browned, flip the steaks and cook the second side until browned. Continue to cooking, flipping salmon every 2 minutes, until the centers are still slightly translucent and an instant-read thermometer registers 125ºF degrees. 

Three pan-seared salmon steaks on a large white plate.

Lauren’s Tip

When cooking salmon steaks, it’s imperative that the pan and the oil are adequately heated before adding the salmon. This ensures the salmon flesh will sear and release from the pan instead of sticking. 

FAQs

How do I know when salmon is fully cooked?

If you’re looking for a medium to medium-well cooked salmon steak, cook it until the center is no longer translucent (poke a pairing knife in the center and lightly pull the flesh apart). You can also check the internal temperature by using an instant-read thermometer, it should register 145ºF. 
For a medium-rare to medium-cooked steak, cook the salmon until the center is still slightly translucent. It should register 125ºF. 

What’s the difference between a steak and a fillet?

Salmon fillets are formed by first cutting the salmon in half lengthwise, top to bottom, to create two identical halves. The halves are then cut crosswise to create fillets. 
Salmon steaks, on the other hand, are formed by cutting the salmon crosswise, top to bottom, all the way down the fish. Each steak has two large flat slides of flesh, a thin band of skin around it and part of the spine in the center. 

Pan-seared salmon steak on a dinner plate topped with charred snapped peas and a shallot and dill sauce.

What to Serve with Salmon Steaks 

We’ve got loads of sides dishes for salmon, but here is how I’m serving it in these photos, plus a few more favorites.  

  • As pictured, I like to serve the salmon topped with my Lemon Dill Vinaigrette and some charred snap peas. To make charred snap peas, toss the peas with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and broil about 6 inches from the heating element until browned and tender. This will take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler. Be sure to stir the peas occasionally to cook somewhat evenly. 
  • I also love cornbread with this salmon. There’s just something so satisfying about a salmon steak, some healthy cornbread and a light Butter Lettuce Salad
  • Top the salmon steaks with Chimichurri, an herby Argentinian sauce and a side of Blackened Corn.
Pan-seared salmon steak on a dinner plate topped with charred snapped peas and a shallot and dill sauce.

Storing Leftovers

Salmon steaks are best enjoyed right after cooking. Store any leftover in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze cooked salmon for up to 3 months. Allow the salmon to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Gently reheat salmon in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through.

Salmon Steak Recipe

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Brining Time 30 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Category Dinner
Cuisine American

Description

Easy 3-ingredient recipe for the best pan-seared salmon steaks. Two things that make it stand out from others—it's brined and it's deboned before cooking. These are spectacular! Serve them with any veggie side dish.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 4 salmon steaks (8–12 ounces each), about 1 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or vegetable oil

Instructions

  • In a large container, dissolve ½ cup salt in 2 quarts cold water. Add salmon, cover and let brine for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer salmon to a paper towel-lined plate or sheet pan and pat dry with additional paper towels.
  • Working with one steak at a time, place salmon on a clean work surface, with belly flaps facing you. Locate white line at top of salmon steak. Using paring knife or deboning knife, cut along 1 side of white line, around spine, then along membrane inside belly flap. Repeat process on other side of white line.
  • Using kitchen scissors, cut out and discard spine and membrane near top of salmon steak.
  • Run your fingers along interior of steak where spine was removed; use kitchen tweezers to remove and discard any pin bones (they should slide out easily).
  • Carefully remove about 1 inch of skin from one belly flap. Then tuck and roll skinned belly flap into steak to create a round steak. Secure with one or two toothpicks. Repeat with remaining steaks.
  • Season both steaks lightly with salt and pepper. Spread cornstarch intoan even layer on a small plate. Press both sides of each salmon steak into cornstarch, brushing to remove excess.
  • In a large stainless steel sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high until shimmering. Place 2 salmon steaks in skillet and cook until first side is browned, about 3 minutes. Flip salmon and cook until second side is browned, 3 minutes. Continue to cook, flipping salmon every 2 minutes, until centers are still translucent when checked with tip of paring knife and register 125ºF degrees, 2–6 minutes longer.
  • Transfer salmon steaks to serving platter and repeat cooking with remaining 2 steaks. Remove toothpicks before serving as desired.

Equipment

Notes

Make it a meal (as pictured): serve the salmon with this Lemon Dill Vinaigrette and some charred snap peas. To make charred snap peas, toss 1 ½ pounds trimmed snap peas with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and broil about 6 inches from the heating element until browned and tender. This will take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler. Be sure to stir the peas occasionally to cook somewhat evenly. 
Cornstarch substitute: you can also use arrowroot starch.
Brining: Brining the salmon before cooking is optional and can be skipped if you’re short on time. That being said, it seasons the fish and keeps the fish moist during cooking (helps the protein molecules hold onto moisture). 
When cooking salmon steaks, it’s imperative that the pan and the oil are adequately heated before adding the salmon. This ensures the salmon flesh will sear and release from the pan instead of sticking. 
This recipe and method is loosely adapted from a recipe by Steve Dunn of America’s Test Kitchen. Their original recipe can be found in Cook’s Illustrated September/October 2017, America’s Test Kitchen TV Season 21.

Nutrition

Serving: 6ouncesCalories: 354kcalProtein: 34gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 489mg
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
Pan-seared salmon steak on a dinner plate topped with charred snapped peas and a shallot and dill sauce.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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