Salmon with Cajun Cream Sauce

picture of salmon with cajun cream sauce
  This post is written in partnership with Kvaroy Arctic.  Rest assured all opinions are my own.

 

I love a little spicy heat in my meals but I also realize that often we are cooking for others that may not.  I’m a big fan of blackened chicken or fish but sometimes the spice blends give more of a kick than I’d prefer.  I created this salmon with cajun cream sauce recipe because I wanted people to have flexibility.   This isn’t a truly spicy cajun cream sauce but rather one with lots of flavor that you have the option of adding more spiciness if you wish.  The result, if people want salmon with no sauce, they can have it.  If you love an amped up sauce with lots of flavor on their salmon, this is perfect for you.  Flexibility when cooking for a crowd goes a long way.

 

Purchase Quality Salmon

Before I get to my salmon with cream sauce recipe, I think it’s important to discuss the salmon we buy.  There are a large number of choices to make when purchasing salmon at your grocery store or online.  The biggest debate surrounding salmon is the differences between wild salmon and farmed salmon.  Cost, nutrition, sustainability, contaminants and antibiotic use in fish are all on our minds if we are concerned with the quality of what we consume.  Remember, not all farmed fish are created equal!

Filet Of Salmon From Kvaroy Arctic
Filet Of Salmon From Kvaroy Arctic

I chose to partner with Kvaroy Arctic because I firmly believe they have some of the most transparent practices in the world of salmon farming.  In fact, Kvaroy Arctic has been committed to complete transparency and traceability.  Kvaroy (pronounced Kwa-ray) is an island located on the Norwegian Inner Passage on the Arctic Circle. You can reach it by flying into Oslo…then eight hours by train, taxi, and two boats.

Their grand vision is:

“To evolve open water salmon farming into a sustainable practice that protects the environment and promotes animal welfare while providing a healthy source of protein for a growing world.”

 

How Is Kvaroy Arctic Salmon Different?

  • Kvaroy Arctic salmon have equal to or exceed the amount of omega-3’s as wild salmon.  Just one 3.5-ounce serving of Kvarøy Arctic salmon has over 2000mg of omega-3s, exceeding the weekly recommended goal set by U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the American Heart Association. They are part of a small number of certified farm-raised fish to sport the American Heart Association Heart-Check mark.
  • No antibiotics or chemicals are used in fish production.  They use a small fish called lumpsuckers to keep the salmon parasite free.
  • No pesticides are used. Given the cold waters and the location of the farms, there is no need to treat the farm with any chemicals.
  • The fish are never given any hormones.
  • Kvaroy salmon are on a diet that is GMO-free and made with trimmings from Marine Stewardship Council Certified fisheries. Every ingredient is traceable.
  • Their fish are never artificially colored. The fish feed includes natural krill, algae, and natural astaxanthin. These ingredients keep the salmon healthy and give it its vibrant orange color.
  • The cleanliness of the water is tested on a weekly basis.

Mercury Content Of Salmon

There are small, nearly undetectable amounts of mercury in their salmon that come from the fish trimmings in their diet. According to Harvard Medical School studies, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. The FDA recommends eating seafood like salmon with low levels of mercury.

Sustainablility

Kvaroy Arctic’s mission toward sustainability is impressive.  There is a large cost to have more sustainable practices in business.  To read more about the efforts they have made read here: https://www.kvaroyarctic.com.

Salmon filet and salmon portions from Kvaroy Arctic can be purchased at your local Whole Foods Market.

Is Salmon Good For You?

Per The Global Salmon Initiative, farmed salmon is an excellent source of protein, healthy fats in the form of omega-3 and several essential vitamins and minerals. The average 3.5 oz. (100 g) portion of farmed salmon contains 41% of the recommended daily intake of protein and at least 20% of the recommended daily intake of vitamins B3, B5, B6, B12, vitamin D, vitamin E and selenium. It is also a good source of potassium, which is a nutrient of public health concern in the United States. 100 g of farmed salmon provides all 9 essential amino acids and ~20.5 g of protein, which is 41% of the daily required protein intake.

How healthy you make a meal containing salmon is up to you.  For my salmon with cajun cream sauce recipe I use heavy cream.  You can modify the heavy cream and use half and half or whole milk instead to reduce fat content if needed.  Just make sure you adequately reduce the sauce enough to thicken it appropriately at the end.

Drying The Surface Of The Salmon Filets To Promote Better Browning and Crisping Of Skin
Drying The Surface Of The Salmon Filets To Promote Better Browning and Crisping Of Skin

Cooking Salmon

Temperature For Baking Salmon

Baking individual salmon portions at 450°F yields great results.  That is assuming you are only cooking salmon by itself.  If cooking a whole salmon filet, I prefer a lower temperature of 375°F.  Wrapping a whole filet in foil is a great way to preserve moisture in the filet while also infusing flavor from citrus or aromatics.  It is perfectly acceptable to cook salmon at lower temperatures of 325°F especially if cooking at the same time as other items which require lower heat.

For this recipe, the salmon can be easily baked, but the cajun cream sauce should be make in a skillet on the stove or on the grill.

Grilling Salmon

Temperature For Grilling Salmon

I follow as similar temperature guideline as cooking salmon in the oven when grilling.  I find that anywhere from 375-400°F is easier to manage since salmon cooks quite fast.  If your grill gets above 450°F and you aren’t watching it closely, you run the risk of overcooking it or worse, burning it.

If grilling salmon directly on the grill grate make sure the grate is clean and well oiled.  Also lightly oil the fish prior to grilling.  Make sure the grill is preheated to medium high heat and cook the salmon skin side down.  You can leave the fish that way the entire cook.  Even though oiling the grates and the fish you do run the risk of having the skin still stick.  If this happens, slide your spatula between the meat and the skin and remove the fish from the grill. Better to sacrifice the skin and still have a nicely cooked piece of salmon.

If I am making a pan sauce such as my salmon and cajun cream sauce recipe, I will use a skillet directly on the grill.  Having an indirect and direct zone for cooking is helpful.  I like the option of moving my skillet to lower heat after I initially cook the skin.

Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon is remarkably easy to make and only uses a few ingredients.  One recipe that I find myself going back to frequently is a vodka brined smoked salmon.  Find the recipe here.

Picture of smoked salmon with lemon and capers
Homemade Vodka Brined Smoked Salmon

Cooking Time For Salmon

The total cook time for grilling salmon will depend on a number of variables.  Are you cooking individual portions of fish or a whole filet?  The thickness of the fish will matter as well.  Per the FDA, salmon is cooked thoroughly when the internal temperature reaches 145°F when measured with an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the filet.  However, that is the salmon is likely well done and overcooked at this temperature.

If you pull your salmon from the heat at 125°F then allow it to rest for 5 minutes prior to eating, you will get much better results. 

Upon resting, the temperature will continue to rise.  No one wants dry, overcooked salmon.  If you do not own an instant read thermometer, the fish is generally finished cooking when it flakes easily with a fork.

Salmon Filet Portions Seasoned With Salt And Pepper
Salmon Fillet Portions Seasoned With Salt And Pepper

How To Cook Salmon In A Pan

  • Preheat your skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  When fully heated, add 1 tbsp of high smoke point oil (canola, avocado, peanut oil, ghee etc) and heat the oil for 30 seconds.
  • Dry the salmon filets completely.  Moisture is the enemy to crispy skin if cooking skin-on.  Pat dry with paper towels regardless of cooking skin on or off.  Season the skin with salt and pepper.  Season the flesh as you desire.
  • Using fish spatula or another flexible spatula, press the fish in the pan, skin side down for 30-40 seconds.  Much like when searing a steak, do not be tempted to flip the salmon prior to it being cooked enough.  The drier that skin is going into the pan, the crispier the skin will be.  Fish skin shrinks when it cooks so adding pressure will keep it flat and covering the flesh.
  • When skin is crisped and easily releases from the pan, flip the salmon over and cook an additional minute.
  • Remove fish from pan when it reaches 125°F (medium-rare) and let rest for 5 minutes.  Serve skin side up.  I like to use this time to make a pan sauce if desired.
Pressing Salmon Down In Hot Skillet To Promote Crispy, Flat Skin
Pressing Salmon Down In Hot Skillet To Promote Crispy, Flat Skin
Salmon With Crispy Skin
Pan Seared Salmon With Crispy Skin

Salmon With Cajun Cream Sauce

At last, the recipe.   Now that you have picked out a great piece of fish, it’s time to make a meal you’ll love out of it.  There are multiple ways to cook this dish.  If the weather is nice outside, I like to grill my fish as to not have any scent of it in my house.  This recipe can easily be made indoors on the stove or in an oven as well since it is made in a pan.

 

For this recipe, I like to simply season the salmon with salt and pepper and then cook it appropriately.  The sauce is served either on the side if you prefer your guests dress their own fish, or on the plate with the fish resting on it.   If your salmon has no skin, feel free to top the salmon with the sauce.

Cook The Pan Sauce In The Same Pan The Salmon Was Cooked In
Cook The Pan Sauce In The Same Pan The Salmon Was Cooked In
Cooking the onions, pepper and garlic in a skillet on the stove
Cooking The Peppers, Onion, Garlic And Butter in Skillet For Sauce
Sauce After Addition Of White Wine, Tomatoes And Heavy Cream
Sauce After Addition Of White Wine, Tomatoes And Heavy Cream

Love seafood recipes?  Check out my recipe for grilled shell on shrimp, bayou style.

picture of salmon with cajun cream sauce

Salmon With Cajun Cream Sauce

A quick, easy and flavorful salmon recipe that comes together in under 20 minutes.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword salmon, dinner recipe, salmon with cream sauce, lunch recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 2
Author Melissa Reome

Ingredients

  • 2 salmon fillet portions
  • 1 tbsp ghee or an oil with high smoke point (canola, avocado, peanut oil etc)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup bell peppers (any color) small dice Optional
  • 1/3 cup onion, white or yellow, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic (or 1 clove)
  • 2 tbsp chives, chopped for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat your skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  When fully heated, add 1 tbsp of high smoke point oil (canola, avocado, peanut oil, ghee etc) and heat the oil for 30 seconds or until shimmering.
  • Dry the salmon fillets completely.  Moisture is the enemy to crispy skin if cooking skin-on.  Pat dry with paper towels regardless of cooking skin on or off.  Season the skin with salt and pepper.  Season the flesh as you desire.
  • Using fish spatula or another flexible spatula, press the fish in the pan, skin side down for 30-40 seconds.  Much like when searing a steak, do not be tempted to flip the salmon prior to it being cooked enough.  The drier that skin is going into the pan, the crispier the skin will be.  Fish skin shrinks when it cooks so adding pressure will keep it flat and covering the flesh.
  • When skin is crisped and easily releases from the pan, flip the salmon over and cook an additional minute.
  • Remove fish from pan when it reaches 125°F (medium-rare) and let rest for 5 minutes.  Serve skin side up.  I like to use this time to make a pan sauce if desired.

Cajun Cream Sauce

  • Over medium heat and using the same skillet that the salmon was cooked in, add 1 tbsp unsalted butter.
  • Add chopped onions and peppers. Saute until onions are translucent and peppers have softened. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add wine to skillet. Cook for 1 minute over medium high heat. Add crushed tomatoes. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add heavy cream. Stir periodically until reduced and thickened (approximately 2 to 3 minutes).
  • Plate sauce on warmed plates if possible (30 seconds in the microwave will do). Add salmon, skin side up onto sauce. Garnish with chives. Serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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