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This recipe is sponsored by Regal New Zealand King Salmon | Opinions are my own

When you hear the mention of concord grapes, you think jams, pies, muffins… I’m willing to bet salmon doesn’t come to mind! I never thought I’d make that association either.

But now, it’s pretty much the *only* association I make at the mention of concord grapes.

When I made my Pan-Seared Salmon With Apple Cranberry Sauce last month, I fell in love with the combination of salmon smothered in a sweet and savory sauce. It works especially well with King salmon due to its rich and buttery texture and flavor. So, when I stumbled upon these beautiful purple concord grapes at the market, I knew exactly what I had to do with them…

Smother them all over my crispy-skinned pan-seared King salmon.

Regal New Zealand King salmon is sustainable!

Having earned the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification from The Global Aquaculture Alliance, Regal New Zealand King Salmon is a smart choice. Additionally, the New Zealand King salmon industry received the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Green/Best Choice rating in 2015, so you can feel good about sinking your fork into these fillets!

The word “farmed” seems to have a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t automatically be chalked up as a negative. Both farming *and* fishing methods have good and bad practices which is why, in either case, you should know where your fish is coming from.

In Marlborough Sounds, salmon production is optimal.

Regal King salmon is raised in protected isolation, then transferred to sea farms in the clear, deep, and cool waters of the Marlborough Sounds where the environment for salmon production is best. With stocking rates resulting in only 2% of the sea farm volume being occupied by salmon, the salmon in this vicinity have more than enough room to swim around. And, with the absence of disease in the fish, New Zealand farmers don’t have to use antibiotics or vaccines to maintain the health of their stocks. The salmon are fed food pellets of fish meal specially formulated for King salmon and they don’t contain steroids or growth enhancers.

What’s different about King salmon?

Also known as Chinook salmon, King salmon is the belle of the Pacific ball. It’s the largest salmon species of the Pacific and it has the highest oil and heart-healthy omega-3 content. If you eat a lot of salmon, you’ll notice and appreciate just how buttery the flavor and texture of these fillets are in comparison to your usual salmon. Because of this, King salmon is the priciest of the species, but it’s totally worth the treat!

Not sure if Regal New Zealand King Salmon is available near you? Find out here!
Making this recipe? Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram: @Killing__Thyme /#killingthyme. For more delish eats, follow me on INSTAGRAM + PINTEREST.
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5 from 1 vote

Pan-Seared Salmon With Concord Grape Sauce

This Pan-Seared Salmon With Concord Grape Sauce is easy enough for a weeknight meal, yet exquisite enough to serve at a swanky dinner party.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2
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  • 2 7 oz Regal New Zealand King Salmon fillets, skin on, If using other salmon, see notes
  • Kosher salt
  • Neutral oil, like vegetable or grapeseed oil (enough to generously cover the bottom of your skillet)

Concord Grape Sauce

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP minced shallots
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup halved concord grapes
  • 1 TBSP natural honey
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar


  • 1 oz toasted walnuts (approx. 2 heaping TBSP), See notes


Preparing the salmon

  • Remove the fillets from the fridge and, with a paper towel, pat the entire fillets dry — skin included. Sprinkle a little salt over the flesh of the fillets and let them sit on the counter for about 15-20 minutes to come to room temperature. In the meantime you can prep your ingredients for the sauce.

Concord Grape Sauce

  • In a small saucepan, melt 1 TBSP of butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and thyme sprigs (thyme will be removed later). Saute until fragrant and shallots are slightly translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the grapes and saute for 3-5 minutes or until they start to soften and burst.
  • Add the red wine, balsamic vinegar, and honey; simmer over moderate heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5-7 minutes. Taste, and season with a pinch of salt, to your preference.

Pan Searing Salmon With Crispy Skin

  • Add a generous amount of neutral oil, like vegetable oil or grapeseed oil, to your skillet — enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat over high heat until the oil starts to smoke.
  • Carefully place one salmon fillet into the hot pan, skin-side down. As soon as the fillet hits the pan, press down on it with a spatula until the fillet flattens out (this only takes seconds) while bringing the heat down to medium. Pressing the fillet keeps the skin firm against the pan and will give you crisp results without curling your fillet upward. Let your salmon cook for about six minutes, or until you can see a nice golden brown color on the edge of the skin. DO NOT touch, push, or try to budge your salmon beforehand, or you'll tear the skin. Once you see the golden edges, carefully slide your spatula underneath the fillet and turn it over. (If it doesn't release, give it another 30 seconds and try again.)
  • Once you've flipped your salmon, it's likely a little over halfway cooked so it only needs another 2-3 minutes of cooking. If you have a meat thermometer, remove the salmon once it's reached an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F. If you don't have a meat thermometer, cook the fish until it's opaque, and then go order a meat thermometer ?
  • Once the fillet is cooked, carefully remove it from the pan and set it on a plate; cover with tin foil so it stays warm. Repeat the same process for the other fillet.
  • Once the fillets are done, plate, and spoon the concord grape sauce evenly over each fillet.


King salmon is thicker and fattier than other cuts of salmon, so if you're using a different type of salmon, cooking times may vary. It's always best to use the 8-10 minute rule when cooking fish; measure the thickest part of the fillet, and cook the fillet 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness, flipping 3/4 of the way through cooking time.
Toasting walnuts: Heat a small pan over medium-low heat. Add the roughly chopped walnuts to the pan, and toast until fragrant/lightly golden. Keep a close eye on them and occasionally toss them around with a spoon. This should take between 5-7 minutes and may seem slow at first, but once they start to toast, they toast quickly. So it's important to watch them so they don't burn. Once nicely toasted, remove from heat and set aside.
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Easy Pan-Seared Salmon With Concord Grape Sauce | Killing Thyme

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    1. I’m so glad, Amanda! Thanks for the feedback. As for leftover sauce, you could freeze it and use it over baked brie over the holidays! It’s a great sweet/savory sauce for brie :)

  1. Any recommendations of which grapes to use? In my grocery stores (in Canada) I can get seedless grapes, but they don’t have a distinct grape flavour. The Concord grapes from the farmer’s market taste really grapey and are dark and sweet, but have seeds that would be a lot of work to remove. 

    1. Hi Megan! I’ve only used concord for this recipe. You’re right, they do have a very distinct grape-y taste and that’s what I was going for, however! I’ve made my share of savory chicken recipes with green or red grapes, and they’ve been fantastic. So in a pinch, I’d say you’re probably safe to use any grapes. Let me know how it goes! Good luck!

  2. I am a seasoned cook I am in the kitchen everyday for hours , I do everything from scratch. I was truly excited about this recipe I even doubled it , I harvested my own grapes I used expensive fig balsamic vinegar I have been cooking it for over 25 minutes it’s still so runny, the recipe doesn’t mention when to remove the thym , I removed it 5 minutes after I poured the wine , it started to small like cough syrup . I am not sure if the thym overwhelmed the sauce , the sauce is still cooking it was way too runny who likes a runny sauce not me .  I am very disappointed  in the taste I will see what I can do to improve its taste and flavor . 

    1. If you’re doubling the recipe, you’ll of course need more time for the liquid to reduce. This sauce doesn’t taste like cough syrup when I make it. Not sure what kind of grapes you harvested or if you made a mistake when doubling it, what kind of wine you used, etc. Thyme wouldn’t overwhelm a sauce to that degree, which a seasoned cook would know. Hope you were able to make it to your liking!

  3. Confession: I have never cooked with grapes before! I love the idea of pairing grapes with salmon – this is a recipe I need to try!!

  4. Hi Dana, WOW! I love the idea of using the concord ghrapes on top of this amazing salmon product. Thanks for enlightening us to the back ground of this King Salmon from New Zealand. I don’t mind that it is a bit more pricy. I would rather pay more knowing that the fish is of the highest quality and ethically processed. Just a week ago I picked about 50 pounds of concord grapes from my parents vine, and Nicoletta and I have been working really hard to presaerve these morsels of deep delicious goodness. If there are any more left, I would love to try this. The flavors of the buttery salmon, and that deep rich flavor of the concord I believe would be a hit. Great job on this one Dana!
    Have a tremedous Friday!

  5. Love that sweet and salty flavour combo! Sweet grapes + naturally salty salmon= yum! “Up” here, sometimes chinook is known as Spring salmon, but whatever you call it, it’s fabulous.