Weeknight dinner
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Sear Roasted Salmon with Knob Creek Maple Orange Glaze

It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and I need a change. (Please, no more turkey!) Salmon to the rescue.

I never thought I’d beg for turkey mercy. I’m a Sunday roast kind of guy, and I love a good roast bird. But…in November, I cooked three turkeys for the blog. I cooked three more for my family’s big Thanksgiving dinner. I had turkey soup the next day. I’m done with turkey – for a few weeks at least. I’ve still got bones in the freezer to turn into stock.

I planned on Copper river salmon, but one look and I switched to the King salmon.When you buy seafood, buy what looks good. Flexibility at the fish case will result in better dinners. (And if nothing looks great? Cut your losses and switch to pork chops.)

The fillets were 1 1/2 inches thick – too thick to cook through on the stove top without overcooking the outside. So I used sear roasting to cook them. Sear roasting gives the best of both worlds – searing browns the flesh side, and then the pan goes into the oven, gently roasting the fish to the perfect temperature. (For me, that means medium – 130°F – when the center is just losing its raw color.)

A quick glaze adds another layer of flavor to the recipe. I simmered Knob Creek Smoked Maple bourbon, maple syrup, and the juice of an orange, and brushed it on right before roasting.

This was high quality salmon – I could have skipped the glaze. I couldn’t help myself. I wanted that sweet, tart, crunchy crust on the fish. And, if I can add bourbon while I’m cooking, it’s always a bonus.

Recipe: Sear Roasted Salmon with Knob Creek Maple Orange Glaze

Adapted From: How To Cook a Perfect Fish Fillet, Tom Douglas, Fine Cooking Magazine, issue 92

Cooking time: 9 minutes



  • 4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, preferably wild
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground peppercorn mix
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Knob Creek Maple Orange Glaze

  • 1/4 cup Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon (or plain bourbon)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)
  • Juice of 1 orange


1. Season the salmon, simmer the glaze

Heat the oven to 400°F. Sprinkle the salmon fillets with the salt and pepper. Put the maple orange glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the glaze reduces and thickens.

2. Sear roast the salmon

In the 12 inch fry pan, heat the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the salmon to the pan, skin side up. Shake the pan to get oil under the salmon, then let them sit and sear for 3 minutes, or until they are well browned on the bottom.

Turn off the heat, flip the salmon skin side down, and brush the salmon generously with the maple orange glaze.

Slide the frypan into the oven and roast for about 5 minutes, until the salmon is barely cooked in the center (the internal temperature is 130°F, and the thickest part has just turned opaque).

3. Serve the salmon

Remove the salmon from the oven (be careful, the handle of the pan is searing hot), and transfer immediately to a serving plate. Brush the salmon one more time with the maple orange glaze, and serve.


  • If you have a fantastic piece of salmon, and you want the salmon flavor to come through without a glaze, great! Skip the “brush with glaze” instructions, and sear-roast it with salt and pepper.
  • Don’t mess with the salmon while it is browning, or it will stick and shred. It will release from the pan when it is properly browned on the bottom. Also, don’t skimp on the oil; the layer of heated oil keeps the fish from sticking to the pan. (If you have an oven safe nonstick pan, now is the time to use it.)
  • Try to get fish cut into roughly the same size fillets. I had two different sizes – a couple of fillets were a lot wider than the others. The thin pieces weighed six ounces, were as wide as they were tall, and cooked as described – sear for four minutes, roast for five. The large pieces were twice as wide as they were thick, and weighed close to a pound each. They took ten minutes of roasting to cook to 130°F. By that time, the thin pieces were overcooked. I should have cut the big pieces in half.

Special Thanks

To Knob Creek Brothers of Bourbon for the bottle of Knob Creek Smoked Maple.

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:

Grilled Salmon with Coriander and Fennel Rub
Cedar Plank Salmon
Sous Vide Grilled Salmon with Fennel Salad

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Filed under: Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Howard Thompson says

    Oh, my bad. I looked again and the “minimum” line is WAY low, so 1/2 cup will work. I was looking at the 1/3 line. Duh.

    Anyway, I’m making this tonight!

  2. Howard Thompson says

    Thanks Mike. I’ve got a new one (Fisler). The manual likes the minimum fill line so I’ll go with that got my first attempt.
    I appreciate your response

  3. Most modern pressure cookers are ok with 1/2 cup of liquid…but…some older ones, especially “jiggle top” cookers, need more. Check your manual, if you have it, or can find it online.

    If you can’t find the manual, use that minimum fill line. If the pressure cooker runs dry, it will lose pressure and scorch the pot.

  4. Howard Thompson says

    What about the minimum fill line on my pressure cooker? I don’t think ½ cup water will get yo the minimum line. Should I use more water or trust it will work?

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