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

Lemon Salmon Piccata

5 / 5 votes
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.
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineAmerican
Servings2 servings
Calories536 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

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)

Instructions 

  • 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.
The Date Night Cookbook

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The Date Night Cookbook

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 536 kcalCarbohydrates: 18 gProtein: 19 gFat: 39 gSaturated Fat: 11 gMonounsaturated Fat: 20 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 79 mgSodium: 500 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Ned | Ariel Fulmer. Photo © 2021 Fulmer Media. All rights reserved.

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, like pane francese, 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, such as filone, 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 crispy rock cod, seared ahi tuna, 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.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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Recipe Rating




16 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I followed this recipe very closely (with a few small garlic, butter, oil, and wine liberties) and it was spectacular! Extremely simple, easy-to-follow instructions with a truly delicious result. Five stars!

  2. Is there a way to prep this ahead of time? I’m hosting a dinner party for 8 people and don’t want to spend too much time cooking in the kitchen while my guests are here. Thanks in advance!

    1. Beth, I wouldn’t recommend cooking this ahead of time, but I would suggest that you do as much of your prep as possible ahead of time. You can have your dredging station set up, slice the garlic, chop the parsley, and measure out your liquids. This way, everything will come together easily and you’ll be able to cook it quickly before serving it. Serve it with bread and a side that can be prepared ahead of time, like salad, or a gratin that can be prepared ahead and cooked in the oven while you finish the salmon.

      1. Thank you! I figured it would probably be too hard to make salmon ahead of time and have it be cooked perfectly, so I’ll just make sure to have everything ready to go and chat with my guests while I cook.

          1. 5 stars
            It turned out GREAT!!! I served it with spaghetti, roasted baby broccoli and fresh bread from my favorite bread guy at the farmer’s market. I did as you suggested and had my mise en place ready to go before my guests arrived. One of my guests is actually a great cook, so she helped me so I was able to get everything done quickly. Plus, it’s always fun having a good sous chef! I made 6x the recipe because I was serving 8 people and wanted to have leftovers. I know it’s not necessary to multiply the amount of sauce, but I did it anyway and I was so happy that I did. I used the extra sauce to coat the pasta and then used the bread to sop it all up. I used a nice sauvignon blanc and along with the lemon and capers it added a nice brightness and tanginess to the sauce. I will definitely be making this again!!!

          2. Wow, Beth, that sounds absolutely perfect! Thank you for taking the time to let me know. I’m so happy that this turned out so well for you.

  3. 5 stars
    Very good and easy. I used two pieces of fish for us but kept sauce the same. Served over thin spaghetti.