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Butter Basted Salmon

Butter Basted Salmon Recipe
Photo by Rachael Martin

Salting your proteins before cooking is essential and seafood is no exception. Especially if you are doing a simple pan fry, broil or grill. We recommend experiencing our salmon with only salt and butter at some point in your eating life. The introduction of salt to a protein molecule catalyzes a diffusion between water and salt molecules and inhibits the denaturing of the protein molecules in the salmon. This makes for a more moist and flavorful fish with a larger margin of error in over cooking. Win, win win!

Butter Basted Salmon | Sitka Salmon Shares

Total time: 45 min
Serves: 2 (but can easily be adjusted)


  • ½-1 pound salmon (sockeye, king, coho, or keta)
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter for each ½ pound salmon
  • Kosher salt or sea salt, preferably large crystals



  • Use kosher or large crystal salt. 
  • Salt liberally. 
  • Separate thin areas from thick areas and cook separately, if possible. 
  • Salt thicker areas slightly more than thin areas.
  • Let salt relax the protein molecules and soak into meat for about 15-20 minutes. 
  • Medium to medium-high heat. 
  • Use unsalted butter. 
  • Skin side down for 90% of the cook time. 
  • Baste continuously from the moment the fish hits the heat, basting 3-4 times.
  • Do not attempt to lift or flip until it releases from the pan.
  • When done, cool skin side up to keep it crispy. 

Salt + Set

Set pieces of salmon on a cutting board and slice to separate thicker and thinner areas. Salt each fillet with a generous pinch of salt. Let the salt rest on the fillets for 15-20 minutes. 

Begin buttering

Heat butter over medium heat in a medium to large frying pan. Once melted, take a spoon and remove any white milk solids from the yellow fat of the butter and discard. This will help prevent smoke and burning as your butter heats. If you don’t discard the milk solids, your butter will turn black and bitter and affect the taste. 

Begin basting

Lay the salmon pieces skin side down into the pan. Immediately, begin basting by tilting the pan and spooning the butter over the fillets. Baste for 30 seconds then let the fish cook for 1-2 minutes. Baste again for 30 seconds. Leave to cook for another minute. Then, baste a third and last time. When the skin begins to lift from the pan, flip to sear the other side of the fillet for 30-45 seconds. Return fillets skin side down. Test for your desired level of doneness. We like it medium/medium-rare with a touch of bright pink on the inside. 


When salmon is cooked, place the fillets skin side up on a cutting board to keep the skin crispy. If you’ve never tried a crispy fish skin, this is the time to do it. It’s like a crispy potato chip! Plate salmon with favorite sides and serve. 

Watch Richie below as he guides us through this simply delicious technique in our very first episode of Wild At Home, our new video cooking series!


*The information displayed is our analysis of the recipe based on its ingredients and preparation, and should not be considered a substitute for professional nutrition advice.

Butter Basted Salmon Recipe | Sitka Salmon Shares

Wild at Home

- with Richie Mann -

We invite you to relax and enjoy this lighthearted video Richie has provided to assist you in cooking the perfect piece of salmon. Enjoy your delicious seafood and don't forget to remove those milk solids!

(You'll understand once you watch the video, bon appétit!)