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Italian Seared Salmon

Posted on: September 17th, 2010

Searing is one of the best ways to cook seafood – creating a crusty brown finish while keeping the inside moist.

The muscles of fishes are fundamentally different than meats.  Fishes have short bands of ‘quick twitch’ muscles separated by tender connective tissue.  This means that fish cooks very quickly, often too quickly for it to have a chance to brown beautifully.  Therein lies the major problem most folks have with cooking fish – overcooking.

The simple techniques in this recipe can be used in countless other recipes.  The fish (or meat) is seared  quickly and set aside while an accompanying sauce and side dish is made in the same pan – boosting the flavor and simplifying clean up!

Great cooking starts with great ingredients.  Match a few fabulous items together well and cook them with a little understanding and your dishes will always shine.

Simple, healthy and delicious, this dish is sure to impress – be creative and use this technique regularly.

Tuscan Salmon, Pasta & Spinach w/ Vodka Sauce

12 oz pound DeCecco whole-wheat spaghetti, or your favorite
6 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil (Picual preferred), separated
4 salmon fillets, 6 oz each
4-6 tsp Tony’s Tuscan Grill Rub or your favorite blend
1 small onion, finely slivered (optional)
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, split
1 jar Tony’s Vodka Sauce
3 TBS capers, rinsed & dried
lemon wedges

Start cooking pasta according to package directions. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Preheat oven to 150°.

Brush fish with oil and season with Tony’s Tuscan Grill Rub. Add the fish to the pan, skin side up and cook to sear, about 2 minutes on the first side. Turn and finish cooking to rare / medium rare – actual time depends on fish and thickness, usually less than 8 minutes total cooking time. Remove to a platter and cover or hold in a 150° oven. Salmon can also be grilled or broiled.

To the same hot pan, add 2 TBS olive oil along with the garlic and onions, sizzle to brown lightly and then add spinach and tomatoes – sauteing and tossing for 1-2 minutes. Add vodka sauce and bring to a simmer and cook several minutes to marry. In a second pan, heat remaining olive oil and fry capers until crisp – transfer to paper towels to drain.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce – simmer for a minute or two to marry. If needed, add splashes of pasta cooking water.

Separate pasta to four plates. Remove skin from salmon and place on top of pasta – garnish with fried capers and lemon wedges. Serves 4


About the author: Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci is the Corporate Chef and co-owner of Tony’s Markets in the Denver Metro area. Mick also teaches cooking on Denver’s Channel 7 News and Dig In, a local gardening show on FOX. For more recipes, visit www.TonysMarket.com and/or join Tony’s Culinary Club.



  1. Lea Ann says:

    Guilty! I'm one of those over-cookers because I can't get a good brown. Love your blog, always learn something and gotta try that Tuscan rub.

  2. Bob says:

    After giving up my gas stove top grill and going to electric, am finally learning how to use for fish. Heat iron skillet, put in fish 2-3 min then put under broiler remainder of time (5-6 min) and is working. Love Chef Mick's Ch 7 spots

  3. Definitely a solid technique Bob – keep on cookin!