This sockeye salmon dish is full of bright summer flavors including sweet cherry tomatoes and savory basil. It comes together rather quickly and is simple enough for a family meal on a cool summer evening, yet impressive enough for entertaining.
Sockeye is the perfect choice for this recipe because its firm texture and bold salmon flavor stands up well to the rich creamy sauce. Keta or king salmon could also be used. If using king salmon, the cooking time will need to be slightly increased to accommodate the thicker portions. Whichever type of salmon you choose, make sure all pin bones are removed before cooking. Wild for Salmon sockeye and keta portions come boneless already which makes this easy.
Summer ingredients are featured in this recipe but it can be made all year round with some variations. The cherry tomatoes and zucchini can be substituted out for an equal volume of chopped green beans, quartered artichoke hearts, or baby spinach or arugula. These fresh vegetables could be omitted altogether to make a simplified version of the recipe that is perfect for bringing summer flavors into your winter meal rotation.
Large deep skillet: Use a skillet that has a large cooking surface, about 11-12 inches, and tall sides. Stainless steel and cast iron are both excellent choices to achieve a good sear on the salmon.
Flexible fish spatula: A thin flexible spatula with an angled metal edge is ideal for flipping delicate portions of fish.
What You Need
Sockeye Salmon: Wild for Salmon sockeye portions are perfect for this recipe, they come boneless and are ready to go!
Sun-dried tomatoes: look for tomato halves packed in 100% olive oil. Make sure to save the oil for cooking.
Shallot: Adds a subtly sweet onion flavor. Half of a small yellow onion can be used in its place.
Garlic: Five cloves are used, but feel free to add more if you are a garlic lover. It can be minced by hand or run through a garlic press.
Red pepper flakes: Add dimension to the overall dish without making it too spicy. If you like spice, add more!
Dry white wine: If you prefer not to cook with wine, extra chicken or vegetable stock can be used instead.
Cherry tomatoes: Using a mixture of colors adds some visual interest to the dish. Look for tomatoes that are ripe and in season.
Zucchini: Adds an element of freshness to an otherwise rich dish. Use green zucchini or yellow summer squash.
Chicken or vegetable Stock: Use whichever you prefer.
Heavy cream: Adds richness to the sauce.
Basil: Chop just before adding to the sauce to prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown.
Parmesan cheese: Adds a nutty rich flavor and helps thicken up the sauce. Grate your own or use pre-grated.
How to Make the Dish
Prepare the salmon. Thaw in the fridge overnight, remove all packaging and pat dry with paper towels. The salmon needs to be as dry as possible to ensure good browning and browning leads to flavor! Season the salmon and quickly sear in a hot skillet. You will want the skillet to be hot but not quite smoking. The salmon will stick to the pan initially but will release itself as it cooks. Flip and cook for another minute on the skin side. If you prefer to eat skinless salmon,
cook it with the skin on and it will easily peel off once cooked.
Build the sauce by first sautéing the aromatics. Cook the shallot, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic on very low heat. These ingredients burn easily, so make sure they are being watched closely. Add the wine, and simmer until it reduces. Add the chicken stock, cream, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes and simmer until the sauce thickens.
Assemble the dish. Stir in the parmesan and basil. You will notice the sauce thicken up quite a bit when the parmesan is added. Taste the sauce and make sure it is seasoned to your taste. Add the salmon back to the sauce, serve and enjoy!
This recipe can be eaten on its own but is wonderful served over pasta, rice, steamed potatoes, or creamy polenta.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
4 sockeye salmon portions, about 1.25 pounds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely diced sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drain and reserve 2 tablespoons oil
1 medium shallot, finely minced5 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ cup dry white wine
1-pint cherry tomatoes
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
⅓ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1. Place the salmon portions on a paper towel-lined plate and thoroughly pat them dry. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly on both sides of the salmon and set aside.
2. Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the sun-dried tomato olive oil. When the oil just starts to shimmer, add the salmon portions flesh side down and cook for 2-3 minutes or until they are visibly cooked halfway up the side.
3. Carefully flip the salmon and cook for another minute on the second side. Remove the salmon from the skillet and allow it to rest on a clean plate.
4. Turn the heat down to low and add the second tablespoon of sun-dried tomato olive oil to the skillet.
5. Add the diced sun-dried tomatoes, minced shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the skillet and cook while stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes or until the shallots begin to turn translucent.
6. Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium. Simmer for about 3 minutes or until the wine has been reduced by half.
7. Stir in the cherry tomatoes, zucchini, chicken stock, and cream, and bring the mixture to a light simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
8. Add the basil leaves and parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
9. Taste and adjust for seasoning and add a pinch of salt if necessary.
10. Return the salmon to the skillet and remove the pan from the heat. Allow the dish to rest for 2-3 minutes to allow the salmon to heat through and serve immediately.
Marisa Kerkvliet of Lemon Thyme Kitchen is a freelance recipe developer and food photographer with a Master’s degree in Nutrition. She was raised on her family’s farm in Northwest Washington and her appreciation for good food developed at a very early age. She is passionate about creating recipes and beautiful imagery that highlight high-quality seasonal ingredients. Marisa loves all types of seafood, but her favorites are salmon and scallops!