Orange Poached Salmon over Caramelized Onions

A citrusy, gingery and flaky salmon filet on a bed of caramelized onions is a wonderful thing. This recipe’s evolution began in my head as salmon over spinach fettuccini, but I was looking for a kick of flavor.  My Cooking Light cookbook was open to a recipe for a Savory Yogurt Pie with Caramelized Onions, which is on my docket for this weekend, and the picture of the onions was the answer I was looking for. I used 2 medium onions, but I have switched up this recipe to 4. The onions are far too good for some little garnishy portion. You, and everyone at your table, will be happy with more vs. less. Some time ago, I switched over from using lemon to orange  for seasoning salmon, and I haven’t looked back. The orange lends a fresh element of surprise and combined with the onions: just delicious. We’re not talking about sprinkling a little orange juice over the salmon. We’re slathering. The onions take quite a lot longer to cook than the salmon, so start with the onions.


For the onions:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 medium-to-large yellow onions
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar

For the salmon

  • 1- 1/2 to 2 pounds of salmon fillets*
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper


  • Thinly slice onions and add to a large skillet with 2 Tbsp. of melted butter. Cook on medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Once onions are translucent, add 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. pepper and 1 tsp. sugar. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes, continuing to stir frequently.
  • While onions are cooking heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in another skillet.  Add salmon to the heated skillet, skin side up, cover and cook on medium high for 3 minutes. Remove lid and skin should easily scrape off of salmon. Turn fillets to skin side down, add freshly squeezed orange juice, and top fillets with salt, pepper, grated ginger and orange zest. salt, pepper,
  • Cover and cook at medium heat for another 4 minutes.
  • Check thickest part of salmon to ensure that it flakes. If it’s still fleshy, continue cooking for another minute or two.
  • Divide caramelized onions among four plates, topping with salmon. Spoon any remaining cooking liquid on top of the onions.
  • Serve immediately.
*Lately, I’ve been opting for flash-frozen, wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye salmon. The fact that it’s frozen right after being caught sits much better with me than the thought of making the trek from Alaska to Austin in a fresh form. Often, what is on display in the grocery store is actually previously frozen, and I don’t get the point of that. Last time I bought Atlantic salmon, it was on sale, so I overlooked the fact that “color had been added.” What! So I’m going to try and bite the bullet moving forward and go with the wild-caught, Alaskan Sockeye salmon, even though I’m sure there are many other good options.



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