RECIPES:
Nov 29, 2021

Crispy Salmon with Beurre Blanc and Sautéed Fennel

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Salmon in a simple beurre blanc makes for the perfect dinner.

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This is one of my favorite family recipes. Whenever my uncle entertains this is key in his rotation. He’s a chef and this is a recipe he taught me early on. The sautéed fennel lightly caramelizes and complements the acidic beurre blanc. I have taken his lead and kept it in my back pocket as a crowd-pleaser recipe. I love how the rich, buttery sauce compliments the fatty salmon. 

Beurre blanc translates to “white butter” and while this isn’t the healthiest sauce, it is definitely delicious. The sauce is classically French, and easy (though temperamental) to whip up on the spot to serve over seafood. The white wine base is reduced, then emulsified with the butter to form a rich, luxurious sauce. 

Crispy Salmon with Beurre Blanc and Sautéed Fennel 

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • White wine – White wine is the base for the beurre blanc. Use a dry white wine for this recipe since it won’t overpower the dish by making it too sweet. While I will use just about any white wine in a pinch I prefer cooking with Sauvignon blanc. Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink! 
  • Butter – I always use high quality unsalted butter – that way the level of salt added can be adjusted according to personal preference. Cut the butter into cubes and slowly add to the sauce so that it emulsifies. 
  • Fennel – The slightly sweet licorice flavor of the fennel complements the rich butter sauce and tender, flakey salmon. I either thinly slice the fennel bulb or use a mandolin to cut it thinly and evenly.
  • Salmon – The salmon is seasoned simply with salt and pepper, then sprinkled with a light coating of cornstarch to help crisp the exterior of the salmon as it is pan fried. Take into account the type and thickness of the salmon you are cooking with. Atlantic salmon is much thicker than most wild Alaskan salmon varieties and will take longer to cook. I typically plan about 6 to 8 ounces per person. 
How to Make Seared Salmon

How to Make Seared Salmon

For the crispy salmon:

  1. Prep the salmon. Thoroughly dry the salmon skin with paper towels, especially the skin, then season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle all over with the cornstarch including the skin, shaking off any excess.
  2. Heat oil. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add vegetable oil and heat until the oil is shiny.
  3. Cook salmon. Working in batches if needed, add the salmon to the pan skin-side down. Use a fish spatula to apply firm, even pressure to the fillets so the skin crisps evenly. Cook until the skin is crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Finish cooking the salmon. Flip and lower the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until the fish is nearly opaque and just barely cooked through, about an additional 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining fillets if needed.
  5. Sauté fennel. Return the pan to medium heat, add the fennel and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

For the white wine beurre blanc:

  1. Sweat the shallots. Add olive oil to a small saucepan over medium heat then add the shallots and sauté, stirring frequently until the shallots are soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Simmer wine. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the white wine, lemon juice and peppercorns. Simmer until ¼ cup remains, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add butter. Reduce the heat to love, Whisk in the butter, one cube at a time, waiting until each cube has emulsified into the sauce before adding another. Turn off the heat and season with salt. Stain the sauce and set aside.

For serving:

  1. Assemble and serve. Plate the fennel and top with the filets of salmon. Ladle the beurre blanc over the top and serve immediately.
white wine beurre blanc | Crispy Salmon with Beurre Blanc and Sautéed Fennel

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

How to make the best sauce 
  • Do not let the finished beurre blanc sauce sit for too long or else the butter will separate from the rest of the sauce. 
  • If you need to hold the sauce for any length of time, pour it into a clean thermos. 
Variations on beurre blanc
  • Add a touch of chili powder or cayenne for a kick. 
  • Try whisking in some fresh chopped tarragon, chives and other herbs. 
  • Add capers for a flavor packed sauce that pairs well over pounded, breaded chicken cutlets.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar to the wine for a more bright and acidic beurre blanc. 
Crispy Salmon with Beurre Blanc and Sautéed Fennel
Troubleshooting Beurre Blanc

My sauce is too thin

This can happen when the ratio of butter to liquid is too low so I recommend continuing to whisk vigorously over low heat while adding a few additional cubes of butter. To help the sauce emulsify this can also be assisted in a blender, food processor or immersion blender. 

My sauce won’t emulsify 

Once half the butter has been added, whisk in two tablespoons of heavy cream to the beurre blanc. Then reduce slightly and continue to whisk in the rest of the butter. This will help to stabilize and thicken the sauce. 

Crispy Salmon with Beurre Blanc and Sautéed Fennel
Crispy Salmon with Beurre Blanc and Sautéed Fennel

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out these:

Crispy Salmon with Beurre Blanc and Sautéed Fennel

Crispy Salmon with Beurre Blanc and Sautéed Fennel
Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the crispy salmon:

  • pounds salmon, skin on, cut into 4 fillets
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced

For the white wine beurre blanc:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1” chunks
  • Kosher salt, as needed

Instructions:

For the crispy salmon:

  • Thoroughly dry the salmon skin with paper towels, especially the skin then season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle all over with the cornstarch including the skin, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add vegetable oil and heat until the oil is shiny.
  • Working in batches if needed, add the salmon to the pan skin-side down. Use a fish spatula to apply firm, even pressure to the fillets so the skin crisps evenly. Cook until the skin is crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Flip and lower the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until the fish is nearly opaque and just barely cooked through, about an additional 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining fillets if needed.
  • Return the pan to medium heat, add the fennel and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

For the white wine beurre blanc:

  • Add olive oil to a small saucepan over medium heat then add the shallots and sauté, stirring frequently until the shallots are soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the white wine, lemon juice and peppercorns. Simmer until ¼ cup remains, about 8 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to love, Whisk in the butter, one cube at a time, waiting until each cube has emulsified into the sauce before adding another. Turn off the heat and season with salt. Stain the sauce and set aside.

For serving:

  • Plate the fennel and top with the filets of salmon. Ladle the beurre blanc over the top and serve immediately.

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    • 10 tablespoons, cut into chunks and then you whisk in a piece at a time to emulsify! Edited to clarify! Hope you enjoy – it’s one of my favorite sauces!!

  1. Whoa, this looks amazing! Your recipes are always perfection, thank you!
    Quick question… can you clarify how much butter is used for the beurre blanc? Recipe says, 10tbsp 2 stick.