Salmon in Vodka Sauce: 3 versions

Chinook Salmon

Chinook Salmon

By Cat, Nov 2007 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I don’t know what it is about salmon and vodka together, but it is definitely a good marriage. One of the newer restaurants here in Bigfork, MT is When in Rome (2). It used to be a pizza place (Sun Mountain Pizza) but new owners have expanded the menu and changed the atmosphere to be one of the better Mediterranean restaurants in the area. My fav item on their menu is Penne Vodka; it’s sauce is smoked salmon, vodka, & garlic in a creamy tomato base. It’s so good that I just go there instead of making my own version.

However, back when I still lived in Portland,  found what seemed like a great recipe for salmon & vodka risotto, but by the time I got around to wanting to make it, I couldn’t find it.  In the process of trying to find another one, I happened upon the first two recipes here (and also Smoked Salmon Risotto).

Salmon in Vodka Sauce

This recipe is adapted from the (1), and serves 6.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 6 salmon fillets (6 oz each)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot or small red onion, or 2 leeks (white part only), sliced thinly
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream, or more
  • ½ cup vodka
  • 2 Tbsp drained and crushed green peppercorns (or try capers for a different flavor), optional
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup snipped chives
  • Equipment:
  • large cast iron skillet
  • juicer for the lime


  1. Heat oil in cast iron skillet over high heat.  Add salmon in batches and cook about 3 minutes per side (for medium) or 5 minutes per side (for well).  Transfer to platter.  Tent with foil to keep warm.
  2. Reduce heat to medium; pour off excess oil (if any) from skillet.  Warm shallot (onion or leek) in the oil until wilted.
  3. Add cream and vodka, and boil until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.  Add green peppercorns (or capers) and remaining 4 Tbsp butter, and stir until butter is just melted.  Mix in lime juice; season with salt and pepper.

Salmon in Vodka Sauce, with Spinach

This recipe is also adapted from the (1) website, as an adaptation of the above recipe. It serves 6.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 8 Tbs butter, in divided portions
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fresh spinach
  • 1 recipe Salmon in Vodka Sauce (see above)
  • Equipment:
  • large dutch oven


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine 4 Tbsp butter and onion in a large dutch oven.  Cover and bake until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.  Stir spinach into the onions and bake until just wilted, about 3 minutes.  Remove from oven and keep warm.
  3. Prepare Salmon and vodka sauce (see above).
  4. Assembly: Divide spinach and onion mixture among plates.  Top each with salmon fillet.  Spoon sauce over.
  5. Garnish with chopped flat (Italian) parsley

Salmon in Vodka Sauce, with Farfalle and Green Peas

This is my own adaptation of the above recipes.

(Nov 13, 2007) Last night I wanted to make the Smoked Salmon Risotto recipe, but couldn’t find Arborio rice at the local store.  I had a craving for carbs, so I decided to try the Salmon Vodka with Spinach (above), but with pasta and green peas instead of the spinach.  I had some leftover squash, so I added that too. Mmm; but I may play with it some more.

Ingredients & Equipment for 4 – 6 people:       

  • 4 – 6 cups Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta (or Penne)
  • 1 package frozen petite peas with pearl onions
  • ½ inch cubes of cooked winter squash (optional)
  • 1 recipe Salmon in Vodka Sauce (see above) *
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Equipment:
  • large saucepan, saucier, dutch oven or stock pot (for cooking pasta)
  • Pasta bowl

* NOTE:  You might want a bit more cream for the sauce, in order to coat the pasta well.


  1. Prepare salmon and vodka sauce (see first recipe above); break salmon into bite-size chunks, and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water according to directions on package, typically 10-12 minutes.  Allow 1 – 2 oz dry pasta per serving.
  3. Add frozen peas with pearl onions to pasta during last 4 minutes of cooking.  Drain, then pour into a pasta bowl.  If using cooked squash, warm in a bit of melted butter in a small pan, and add to cooked pasta.
  4. Add chunks of cooked salmon, pour sauce over and toss well.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with grated parmesan cheese.


  2. When in Rome:

About Cat

See my 'About' page
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