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Culinary Arts

Sauté: Salmon With Spinach

Thomas Keller

Lesson time 19:09 min

Chef Keller teaches you how to make a dish that he eats several times a week: sautéed salmon with spinach. He demonstrates how to properly cut and fillet a King salmon and explains his technique for cooking salmon mostly on one side.

Thomas Keller
Teaches Cooking Techniques III: Seafood, Sous Vide, and Desserts
Chef Thomas Keller’s third MasterClass is devoted to preparing seafood, sous vide cooking, and making classic desserts.
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THOMAS KELLER: I get to cook you something that I eat maybe two or three days a week, seriously, a beautiful piece of salmon. I cook it unilaterally, which is only on the skin side. We want to get that skin really crispy. Then I flip it over and kiss it on the other side. I like my salmon medium rare to medium or, as they would say in France, . I'll always eat my salmon with sauteed spinach-- of course, Popeye's favorite vegetable. Packed full of nutrients, both of these ingredients. What you may see at the grocery store is a fillet of salmon. This is probably the most common way that you'll see salmon presented. You can see the beautiful fat that is in the belly on the bottom, and certainly that's one of my favorite pieces as well. But it's a little more difficult to cook, and certainly the skin in that is a little different than the skin on the top. So it's a little thicker for that protection. The top-- the top piece of skin is a little thinner. So you can see if we touch the flesh, it responds by bouncing back quickly, and that's a true sign of freshness in any fish. I'm going to go ahead and trim this up a little bit just to make a-- this is where the dorsal fin was. But you can see here, you can see all that beautiful fat that's just layered in there, all that full of omega 3. We have a little bit of the vertebrae here. I'm just going to trim that out. And of course we have our pin bones that run down. So we want to make sure that we're removing those pin bones. And more likely than not the fish that you buy in the grocery store will have those pin bones already removed. This is a sustainably raised Ora King salmon from New Zealand, and they raise them as close as they can to how they grow in the wild. OK, eliminate all of our pin bones. Always keeping a clean, dry surface. I'm going to remove the sirloin that we spoke about now. You can see where the vertebrae was. We're just going to take our knife and just go right down that line. In order for us to really get that skin crispy, we want to-- we want to remove as much moisture as we can from the skin. So we like to do something we call squeegeeing the skin. You notice I put it on a moist kitchen towel here to keep it from moving around. So if I take my knife down, you can see the water. You can see the water start to come off of that skin. You want to get all of that water off of there. And so just back up. And this will also assure that there's no more scales on the fish, and then back down. All the moisture that's accumulating along my knife blade, you can see that, removing more of the moisture out of the skin, which allows the skin to get much crispier when we cook it. So in our kitchen when we say squeegee that, that's what we're doing. Again, back down. Sometimes my knife-- now I'll start to do my knife at a little sharper angle to dig in there, a little more pressure. And you can see still moisture coming off of the fish. This will also, when ...

Elevate your cooking

In his third MasterClass, Chef Thomas Keller focuses on preparing fresh seafood like lobster and salmon, making classic desserts such as apple pie and lemon tart, and showing how sous vide cooking can be done at home to enhance flavor and texture. Whether you’re a beginning or advanced cook, you’ll learn the techniques and principles that will give you the understanding and skills to get the most delicious results.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Mr. Keller is amazing and he teaches with simplicity, yet all of his dishes are so refined. Fun to watch.

Beyond magnificent. Chef Keller's clarity and precision inspire me to try new techniques with better results.

Very good instructor.. interesting desserts...

Have learnt that for a family of 4 sous vide is probably not worth the effort or time! Will stick to traditional braising or baking.


A fellow student

I've always made spinach with sauteed salmon, but I've never been able to get the skin crispy before. I love how simple this dish Is and Thomas Keller executed it beautifully. I made my salmon with spinach and lemon couscous. I'm excited to try it with the chow-chow that he recommended in the lesson.

Johnny T.

My first time sautéing spinach. I should have prepped more because I didn't expect it to shrivel down so much.

Nikita L.

This was my first Master Class and it worked out really well. I did not have the pickled vegetables to complement the salmon and made rice as a side dish. As well I used the loin and belly and it worked. Here is a photo of my dish.

A fellow student

I loved it, but I would really loved it more if Chef Thomas Keller showed us how ti fillet a salmon.

A fellow student

If I could have sat behind Van Gogh and watch him paint it would have been the same sensation as watching Mr. Keller

A fellow student

I made it and everything was good but I mean it wasn't amazing. this is something that is quick easy and has simple ingredients so I would still recommend it!

Sally T.

Appreciate all the small but critical explanations that elevate the food prep - getting moisture out of the skin, right temperature of fat to keep skin from sticking, adding lemon zest and shallots in layers as you add spinach to pan. Having made this same dish for years, I'm looking forward to making it again with all these nuanced techniques. Would love to know what some of you are doing with all the scraps from the salmon. Thinking a quick stir fry with the thinner filet pieces but imagination fails me beyond that.

Jim G.

Any suggestions for cooking salmon, if you remove the skin during the prep.... do you still cook mainly on one side or equally on both?

A fellow student

I can't view this video pls. I can hear the instructor but no images. Thank you!


I enjoyed the lesson and it was such a pleasure to learn from Chef Keller! My family LOVED this dish and the fun part for me was the pickling process. I chose purple cauliflower and the pickling juice ended with a beautiful ombre. The challenging part was working with the salmon in a hot All-clad but it's a great experience. I am looking forward to next lesson!