Lemon Salmon Piccata

Lemon salmon piccata is a gorgeous way to make the most of that good-for-you fish, salmon. Brightness from lemon and white wine, bite from garlic, and the tang of capers make it lush and satiating. Perfect weeknight–or date night–food.

Lemon salmon piccata, 2 pieces, in a metal pan with slices of lemon, pan sauce, garnished with garlic and capers.

Adapted from Ned & Ariel Fulmer | The Date Night Cookbook | Countryman Press, 2021

When we lived in Chicago, we would often go to a cute Italian restaurant in Old Town near where Ned took classes at Second City. They had a salmon piccata dish that Ariel would devour, then use their amazing bread to sop up the sauce. (You may have noticed that Ariel loves bread and pasta!) It became our spot for special evenings. Ariel mastered the recipe herself so that now, even when it’s time to kiss and make-up, it’s a special treat that fills us with memories of those easy early months of our relationship.–Ned & Ariel Fulmer

HOW DO I PAN-SEAR SALMON?

There are a few tricks for pan-seared salmon. Make sure to dab the flesh of the salmon dry first, before you even start seasoning. To get a crispy exterior, use a preheated, hot skillet with just enough oil to cook it without deep-frying. Make sure to give all the pieces of fish room in the skillet–cook in batches if you need to. Finally, don’t move it around until it’s ready to be flipped. Let a solid crust form before sliding a thin spatula underneath.

Lemon Salmon Piccata

Lemon salmon piccata, 2 pieces, in a metal pan with slices of lemon, pan sauce, garnished with garlic and capers.
This is one of the dishes that we make often because it's quick and easy but also because of the memories it holds for us. The lemon and garlic pan sauce is perfect sopped up with bread, and the briny tang of the capers complements salmon incredibly well.
Ned & Ariel Fulmer

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 30 mins
Entree
American
2 servings
536 kcal
5 / 2 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 2 (6 ounce) salmon fillets skinless, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons capers drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup fish or vegetable stock
  • Juice from 1/2 large lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • Rustic white bread to serve (optional)

Directions
 

  • Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a wide shallow bowl and lightly dredge the salmon on all sides.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil until it sizzles. Arrange salmon in the skillet and cook until the flour has formed into a crispy crust and the salmon is just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Move to a plate.
  • To the same skillet, add the white wine, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Simmer until the wine reduces by half, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the butter, garlic, and capers, and cook until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  • Whisk in the stock and lemon juice, and cook until the sauce has thickened, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Stir in the parsley and return the salmon to the skillet, spooning the sauce on top of the salmon to coat. Serve with slices of rustic white bread for soaking up the sauce, if desired.
Print RecipeBuy the The Date Night Cookbook cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 536kcal (27%)Carbohydrates: 18g (6%)Protein: 19g (38%)Fat: 39g (60%)Saturated Fat: 11g (69%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 79mg (26%)Sodium: 500mg (22%)Potassium: 523mg (15%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 541IU (11%)Vitamin C: 8mg (10%)Calcium: 37mg (4%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

What a wonderful way to eat salmon! Living on the west coast we eat a lot of salmon so I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it and now this is one of my favourite ways. The lemon shines in this dish and complements the salmon so well.

Lemon salmon piccata on a blue plate with a side of spaghetti noodles.

It’s also a recipe that can be made in 30 minutes so it makes for a perfect weeknight dinner. I served it alongside angel hair pasta and some crusty bread, so satisfying!

Salmon is a go-to for me: readily available, less costly than scallops, halibut, or ahi tuna, easy to prepare and liked by most, as fish goes.

I was drawn to this lemon salmon piccata simply because it involved preparation, something I usually avoid when it comes to salmon, or most fish, for that matter. I suppose I am a fish purist. I want to taste the fish and not have overpowering flavors lurking in a sauce. But it worked well and didn’t overpower.

Salmon lends itself to different ethnic flavors, whether you choose to veer toward Asian or Italian, it’s a nice canvas for creativity. This Italian preparation was quite tasty, easy to prepare, loaded with garlic, which I love, and really enjoyed by my guests. The bread was a great accompaniment and I served a kale salad and vegetable tortellini as a side dish.

We had just received our monthly shipment of Alaskan salmon, so we used sockeye for this lemon salmon piccata recipe. It’s a nice change from the typical piccata. The garlic was not as overpowering as expected and using all those capers really helped to get a nice pop of brininess in each bite.

My better half described this as YUMMY! Another recipe to keep in the file.

This lemon salmon piccata is my favorite kind of recipe: easy to prepare, easy to clean up, and very tasty. You could do the prep work (and there’s not a lot of that) ahead of time and have a company-worthy meal on the table in about 30 minutes. 

My salmon was quite thick on one edge and I was concerned that it wouldn’t cook evenly but that wasn’t the case, it was cooked perfectly with a nice crust all around. The sauce was light and flavorful and the capers added a briny touch. I’ll add a little more lemon juice next time as this was the one flavor that was a little too understated. Definitely follow the suggestion of serving this with good bread as you’ll not want to waste a drop.

I don’t know why, but I have never been a huge fan of chicken piccata. However, lemon salmon piccata is a variation I had never heard of, and it sounded like a winner because I thought the fish would pair so much better with the briny flavor of the capers and the acidity of the lemon. Well, my instincts were correct! I was very pleased with this dish.

The only small thing I would change is perhaps adding a bit more lemon flavor. I doubled the recipe to serve four, and my one lemon only produced about 3 tablespoons of juice, so I think next time I would use 4 tablespoons. The flour dusting on the salmon created a nice crust, and the sauce came out thickened and lovely. This is a great weeknight dinner, especially paired with roasted cauliflower or Brussels sprouts. Save a little of the extra wine (I used Pinot gris) to drink along with the salmon.

My husband went fishing in Alaska this past summer and brought home some wonderful salmon. I LOVE the taste of piccata, so I was really excited to try this recipe. It was relatively easy to prepare and execute and I had dinner on the table in just over 30 minutes. Pour yourself a glass of white wine, grab some crusty bread and a nice salad and dig into this elegant, but easy weeknight dinner!

It is nice to have another protein to use with piccata recipes in addition to the customary veal and chicken. The preparation is simple and no different from the traditional method. The sauce works very well with salmon as it would with other firm flesh fish fillets such as cod, halibut, tilapia, etc. If you serve the dish with bread, you really don’t need another starch, but in place of bread, I could see this served with buttered noodles, mashed potatoes, steamed rice, or parsley potatoes which is what I used the second time I made this dish. Any sautéed, roasted or steamed green vegetable would work well as an accompaniment.

You can’t go wrong with a classic. And for me, a piccata sauce is just that. Normally seen with chicken or veal cutlets, I love the idea of switching up the proteins here with salmon. I could see this working really well with halibut, shrimp, or jumbo scallops as well. Not only are the flavors of this piccata sauce bright, briny and rich all at the same time, but it is made from mainly pantry staples which makes this recipe a winner in my book. I served my salmon piccata with roasted garlic bread, spinach orzo, and roasted carrots.

Originally published October 29, 2021

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Comments

  1. After a nice weekend of hanging out with family and friends in Las Vegas and enjoying some pricey dinners at places like Hells Kitchen, I wanted to end the weekend with a nice home-cooked meal.
    While I see a lot of recipes in my feed, this really caught my eye as it was quite a bit different from my usual cedar plank salmon and I thought it would be a nice surprise for my fiancee.
    It most certainly did not disappoint! It was a smashing hit and she liked it so much she sent pictures to her family saying that Gordon Ramsay can shove it! (Quite the compliment I must say)
    This will definitely be a dish I will be making again.

    1. That IS quite a compliment, Glenn! While restaurant experiences are fun, a home-cooked meal can bring such comfort. We are glad to know you and your fiancée enjoyed the salmon!

    1. Kate, a dry white wine would work best here, like a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. Do let us know how it turns out!

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