A lively fish dish, salmon with lemon dill sauce is fragrant and creamy with a subtle zesty twist. Serve with pasta and a crisp white wine for a laid-back dinner for two, or mashed potato and a side of green peas for a quick and easy square family meal in under 30 minutes.
People can be picky about fish, kids especially! But I’ve found that mine will always eat salmon. Perhaps it’s the texture, or the mild flavour, or maybe because it’s pink?! Anyway, whenever I serve this salmon Florentine with spinach and asparagus it’s always eaten up – even the bonus greens.
Lemon dill sauce
Typically, a lemon dill sauce is made with a ton of butter and served on the side. It is unctuous, golden, and heart-stoppingly rich. I’ve given the classic recipe a less calorific overhaul and made it more family-meal friendly.
My salmon sauce recipe uses half butter, half olive oil, stock and crème fraiche and the fish is bathed gently in it. The trademark flavours, sharp lemon and fresh dill are still there, but without the clogged arteries.
A sadly underused herb outside of Eastern Europe, you might not have used dill before. Or only encountered it floating listlessly in the bottom of a pickle jar.
But this vibrantly coloured, flavoursome plant packs a surprisingly fresh punch. It’s both sweet and citrusy with a light anise tone, making it the perfect partner for delicate salmon.
Recipe tips and notes
- Before cooking the salmon pat it dry to remove any excess water. This will ensure a good sear.
- Don’t be tempted to move the fish around while searing. Leaving it alone will help it brown and caramelize. Turn it over once!
- Use a non-stick pan if you’re worried about the salmon sticking.
- I haven’t used any of the lemon juice in this recipe. The zest will give it some zing, and the crème fraiche will bring some tang. Sharp flavours are well-represented!
- Keep the sauce on a low heat. Adding cream over a high heat will split the sauce. Not a good look. But still edible.
- I appreciate not everyone keeps a bunch of dill in the fridge at all times. Blame my Russian roots! But in this recipe, it is preferable to the dried kind. Dried can taste very strongly of anise, which will overpower the other flavours.
- Crème fraiche can be substituted for heavy (double) cream. This will yield a less sour twist and more a velvety texture, which might be more to your palate. For me though, these glaringly Eastern European flavours in my cream sauce for salmon harmonise perfectly and remind me of home.
In my house, dinner is a fairly consistent formula of protein, starchy carbs and vegetables or salad.
So, for the carb component, I would serve this saucy salmon dish with hasselback potatoes with gremolata, as the little ridges act as sauce-catching tunnels. Or if I’m pushed for time Instant Pot mashed potatoes.
Pasta works so well with any cream sauce for salmon, especially long pasta like spaghetti or linguine. Even better if you have some homemade fresh pasta.
And for the greens, I’d put that leftover zested lemon to good use with lemon and garlic green beans or grill some asparagus.
Storage and leftovers
Leftover salmon and sauce can be covered in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to two days. To reheat, cover the portion with foil and cook for 15 minutes at 135C/275F. Make sure the salmon is cooked through before serving.
Other salmon recipes to try:
- Pasta with Smoked Salmon
- Salmon Fishcakes with Creamy White Wine Sauce
- Salmon Burgers with Spice Carrot Cucumber Slaw
- Salmon with Basil Pesto
Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 salmon fillets
- 1 shallot chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- Zest of ½ lemon
- 175ml / ⅔ cup chicken or fish stock
- 125ml / ½ cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
- ½ tbsp fresh dill
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick pan, then add the salmon, seasoned with salt and pepper, to a pan skin side up and sear for 3-4 minutes over medium high heat until golden and crispy, then flip on the other side and cook for 2 minutes longer. It will not be cooked all the way through, remove to a separate plate.
- To the same pan, add the chopped shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes over low heat, then add minced garlic and lemon zest and sauté for 30 seconds while stirring. Then deglaze the pan with chicken stock and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the creme fraiche or the heavy cream and sprinkle the dill all over, stir and let it bubble away for 5 minutes longer. Make sure your heat is set to low while making this cream sauce.
- Bring the salmon back to the pan and let it simmer in the sauce for 5-7 minutes until the salmon is opaque and cooked all the way through and the sauce is desired consistency. Taste the sauce and add more salt if necessary.