butter poached salmon and secret sauce


My late grandfather came to America from Norway in the 1950s with just a pair of skis wrapped in paper. While I’m pretty sure that he actually brought more than just skis, my family does celebrate Norwegian holidays because of him. May 17th is National Constitution Day, and 2014 was the 200th anniversary of the Constitution of Norway being signed in Edisvoll.


This past Saturday, I celebrated by poaching a salmon in a combination of butter and oil. My parents inherited a salmon poacher from my grandfather when he passed away, but I don’t think that they have ever used it because it is large enough to poach an entire salmon. I poached about 1/2 lb of salmon, but there was enough liquid to poach more. You don’t want the salmon to fry, so making sure that the liquid stays at a low enough temperature.

secret sauce

I served the salmon with my dad’s salmon sauce, which he has been making for as long as I can remember. When asked about it, he usually replies that it is a little of this and little of that; actually he says that about all of his recipes. I was able to wheedle it out of him, and am now sharing it publicly on the internet. Whoops, sorry Dad. The thing about this sauce is that you have to make it based on the taste. Different horseradishes taste stronger than others and the taste can also change depending on the dill/lemons. I guess that’s the secret of it. This sauce goes well with any cooked salmon, and also is excellent with smoked salmon.

Butter Poached Salmon


  • 1/2 lb to 1 lb pound of salmon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil // You need enough total liquid from the oil and the butter to immerse the salmon about half way. 
  • 1 stick butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly minced
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat olive oil over low heat in a pan that is slightly bigger than your cut of salmon. [You can see from the pictures that I did not do this, but this was the smallest pan that I had.]
  2. As the oil heats, add the butter and garlic. Pat your salmon dry and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. When the butter is just melted, add in the salmon skin side up.
  4. Cook the salmon over low heat (it should not sound like it is frying at all) for about 7 minutes.
  5. Carefully flip the salmon over and continue cooking for another 7 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked.
  6. Once cooked, remove from pan allowing the oil to drip from it slightly, and serve immediately.

Secret Sauce


All ingredient measurements are approximations and can be added/subtracted depending on how strong you want the sauce. 

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2-3 tsp prepared horseradish
  • juice from 1 lemon, about 1 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill // If you have to use dried dill, make the sauce ahead of time and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Crackers to taste with // If you are using this on smoked salmon, make sure to use the same crackers that you are planning on serving the smoked salmon on


  1. In a small bowl, add the sour cream and prepared horseradish. Stir and taste with cracker. You should be able to just taste the horseradish without it being too overpowering.
  2. Add in lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper. Stir and taste, adjusting ingredients if necessary.
  3. Serve with salmon.

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