salmon in the skillet

Unlike most cooking oils, sesame oil has this intense aroma that magnifies under the heat. After a minute, it smells as if you’ve been cooking in the kitchen for hours. Most people don’t think to use sesame oil when cooking salmon. That’s a shame because I personally think that sesame oil makes salmon shine.

Last week, M- and I made sesame crusted salmon (using olive oil). It came out wonderfully. We seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper, generously coated the surface with toasted black and white sesame, and let it cook in the pan for a couple of minutes. We then repeated the process on the other side and after we flipped the salmon, there was this crispy layer of sesame seeds. We then poured some Pinot Noir and let it simmer for a few minutes. The result was an incredible meal.


When Esther came over last night, I wanted to refine the recipe a bit. Instead of a straight up Pinot-Noir reduction, we found a recipe off of Food & Wine that called for a soy-sauce and maple glaze. Seeing as how Pinot-Noir pairs so well with salmon, we decided to add half a cup of the wine to the glaze. Although we had to wait 8-10 minutes for the sauce to reduce in the pan, it was well worth the wait. The sauce had strong notes of the maple and hints of the soy sauce. The ginger added a nice kick and overall, it made for a memorable dinner.


What I love most about this meal is how fast it takes to prepare. If you have the salmon steaks ready, it takes about 30 seconds to season. Each side takes about 2-3 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness. A good indication is when the salmon turns slightly white. You don’t want to let it sit on the skillet for too long because even after the fire is turned off, the salmon will continue to cook. We took it off the heat when it was still pink in the middle and by the time we cut into the salmon, it was perfectly tender.

Sesame crusted salmon w/ Pinot Noir glaze
Adapted from Food & Wine


  • Four 8-ounce wild salmon steaks, cut 1 inch thick
  • Sesame oil for cooking
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Toasted black & white sesame seeds

Pinot-Noir glaze

  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
  • One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger—peeled, thinly sliced and smashed
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed


Lightly coat the top side of the salmon steaks with salt and pepper. Then liberally coat with the sesame seeds.

In a hot skillet, drizzle sesame oil (olive oil works fine if you don’t have sesame oil) and set the steaks so that the sesame coated side is facing down on the skillet. You want to let this sit on the skillet (don’t touch it or else the sesame crust will fall apart!) for 2-3 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, season the other side with salt, pepper, and sesame seeds. Carefully flip the salmon over. Let it cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the middle is just slightly pink.

To prepare the sauce, in a large, shallow dish, whisk the Pinot Noir with soy sauce, maple syrup, and sesame oil. Add the smashed garlic and ginger. In a saucepan, heat the sauce for 8-10 minutes until it has a thick consistency. At this point, remove the salmon from the heat and plate. Drizzle the Pinot-Noir glaze onto the salmon. Garnish with more sliced ginger.

salmon finished

FOOD & WINE is giving away a year-long subscription to a lucky reader from Savory-bites.  Click here to enter and read official rules here.

This post is part of a series featuring recipes from the FOOD & WINE archive.  As a FOOD & WINE Blogger Correspondent, I was chosen to do four recipes a week from FOOD & WINE.  I received a subscription to FOOD & WINE for my participation.