Salmon in Basil Cream Sauce is an easy, 20 minute sauce, that will dress up your fish…(seafood or chicken)!
This recipe for Salmon in Basil Cream Sauce comes from the Park Hotel Kenmare in County Kerry, Ireland. I clipped it out of a Bon Appetit magazine in the early 90s. I keep all the recipes that sound interesting in a folder. Periodically, I’ll go through and toss the ones I’m not interested in any more. This recipe for Salmon in Basil Cream Sauce kept surfacing to the top of the pile, and so I finally got around to making it. (This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience)
We only manage it eat fish a few times a month. Getting good quality, sustainably raised, wild fish comes at a price. Fortunately, Trader Joe’s, and Costco both carry wild-caught fish, so sometimes I’ll pick up a package of filets to keep in the freezer for a weeknight meal. I’ll defrost the filets in the fridge in the morning so they’re ready for poaching, grilling or baking.
For Salmon in Basil Cream Sauce, I cooked the fish in a cast iron skillet, just because sometimes it’s easier than getting out a sheet-pan or heating up the BBQ. You could prepare the fish any way you like it, baked, grilled or poached in the oven as I did. (More on that in a minute)
The recipe calls for fish stock, which is available with all the other stock in any large grocery store. If you can’t find fish stock, use bottled clam juice with water. Clam juice is great to have on hand for clam chowder and Cioppino, an San Francisco staple.
Start with the Basil Cream Sauce which takes about 20 minutes. While it’s reducing, prep the rest of the meal. The salmon takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, depending on how you choose to prepare it.
Cooking note: The sauce is a series of reductions. First you’ll reduce the wine by half, then you’ll reduce the stock by half, and then the cream. What results is a rich, but sublime sauce. If you’re in a hurry, use a larger skillet, which has more surface space than a sauce pan, thus speeding up the reduction time by about half! It would also be the perfect accompaniment to any grilled, roasted, or sautéed chicken, fish or scallops. To prepare the oven poach the salmon, place filets in a large heat-proof pan or iron skillet, sprinkle with lemon juice, wine, or more fish stock, and bake for approximately 15 minutes at 350 F.
- 1/4 cup 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 6 Tablespoons fresh basil minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups fish stock or 1 1/3 cups bottled clam juice and 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Melt butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. (Using a sauce pan will take longer to reduce.)
- Add basil and stir until wilted, about 1 minute.
- Add wine, increase heat and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. (see cooking notes)
- Add stock and boil 3 minutes.
- Add cream, white and black pepper and salt.
- Boil until sauce is reduced to 3/4, about 8-10 minutes.
Salmon in Basil Cream Sauce is a great way to dress up any fish or poultry!
- 4 wild-caught salmon filets
- 1/4 cup liquid (lemon juice, fish stock, or dry white wine)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place fish in a cast-iron pan or any heat-proof skillet.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Bake at 350 degrees F. for approximately 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
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