Salmon with Norwegian Butter Sauce (Sandefjordsmør)

Truly the most delicious and creamy sauce to pour over salmon or any fish!
salmon with Norwegian butter sauce, mashed potatoes and pickled Norwegian cucumber salad

What is Sandefjordsmør?

Sandefjordsmør is a classic Norwegian butter sauce that is delicious over seafood. Although the history of this tasty sauce is not super well-documented, some believe that it was created by Otto Fredrik Borchgrevink (a hotel manager at the Park Hotel in Sandefjord, Norway) back in 1959. Borchgrevink studied in France during World War II and learned the classics – one of which being beurre blanc. Typically you have shallots and white wine in a beurre blanc, but he improvised and created his own Nordic classic sauce using (sometimes) cream, butter, lemon, and herbs.

Growing up in a Norwegian household in Canada, my family would make a lot of Norwegian dishes. Most of these dishes would be around the holiday season (komle, lutefisk, lefse, Kransekake – the list goes on!)

Lately I’ve been wanting to dig more into my Norwegian heritage and learn more recipes – not just the wintery holiday foods that I grew up eating – but really learning more of the everyday recipes you find in Norway.

Seafood is clearly a large part of the traditional cuisine you’ll find in Norway, as well as potatoes and different pickled foods. This dish we’re making today touches all of those – we have a simply seared salmon, with a side of potatoes, and then a simple pickled cucumber salad (also known as Agurksalat).

raw salmon filets next to green herbs

How to make Salmon with Norwegian Butter Sauce:

This salmon dish with a Norwegian Butter Sauce is very simple to make. Let’s break down how to make the recipe step-by-step, and I’ve also included a video tutorial here as well:

green herbs
Step One:

I like getting all my mise en place ready to go beforehand, that way it’s just tossing all the ingredients in the pan as we go. 

Take the salmon out of the fridge about 20 minutes prior to cooking. This will ensure the salmon comes to room temperature and help for a more even cook of the fish. Pat dry the salmon and season with just some sea salt on both sides. The Norwegian butter sauce is the star of the show so we don’t want to overcomplicate things by overseasoning the salmon. Keep it simple!

raw salmon filets seasoned with salt
Step Two:

In a pan over medium heat, add a touch of oil and sear the salmon skin-side down first. If you’re using salmon without skin, place the presentation side (the side that was the skin side) down first. Keep the salmon searing in the pan and watch the fish cook from the side. You should see the salmon turn more light pink and opaque! After a few minutes you can flip with a spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes (depending on the thickness of the filet) until your desired level of doneness. 

Recommended internal temperature is 145 degrees. Remember that cooking times may vary based on the thickness of your salmon fillet, so it’s crucial to monitor the cooking process closely. With practice, you’ll develop a feel for the perfect doneness of your pan-seared salmon.

salmon searing in a pan
Step Three:

Set the salmon to the side (feel free to cover loosely to keep warm) while we work on our sauce. Cut up a cold stick of butter into cubes and place them in a bowl over top of another bowl filled with ice.

seared salmon
Step Four:

In a pot over medium heat, add the heavy cream and continue to stir for about 5-7 minutes as the cream reduces slightly. Reduce the heat to low and wait for the reduced cream to stop bubbling.

prepping the sauce for the norwegian salmon
Step Five:

Add in the juice from half a lemon, continue to stir, and then slowly add the cold butter cubes into the pot while constantly whisking. Once all the butter has been incorporated you can add in some white pepper, salt, and chopped italian parsley. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. If you need to heat it back up you can do so over low heat while stirring frequently.

Step Six:

Time to plate! Serve with some creamy mashed potatoes and a simple pickled cucumber salad with fresh dill. Pour the creamy Norwegian butter sauce all over the salmon and enjoy!

finished plate of salmon with norwegian butter sauce

If you like this recipe you may also like:

Mediterranean Salmon One Pan
Perfect Salmon Salad
Champagne Chicken

Tips & Tricks for Salmon with Norwegian Butter Sauce:

 

    • Keep the butter cold: I find that filling a large bowl with ice and keeping the butter cubes in a separate bowl over top of the ice keeps the butter nice and cold. Keeping the butter cold is an extra step but it helps to achieve the creamy and smooth texture we want in the sauce. When the butter is cold, it allows for gradual melting and emulsification into the sauce, which prevents the sauce from separating. If we added butter that wasn’t super cold, the sauce could become too thin or fail to emulsify properly.
    • Add the butter slowly: This Norwegian butter sauce is an emulsified sauce. The slow addition of the cold butter will gradually thicken the sauce and create a smooth and glossy finish. If we add the cold butter too fast we risk the sauce becoming too thin or not emulsifying properly as well.
    • Don’t boil over: After you reduce the cream, make sure to turn the heat to low and wait for the bubbling to stop before adding the lemon and butter! If the cream is boiling you could easily break the sauce here.

 

salmon with Norwegian butter sauce, mashed potatoes and pickled Norwegian cucumber salad

Traditional Norwegian Cuisine:

Here’s an overview of the types of food and traditional cuisine you can find in Norway today:

  • Fish and Seafood: Norway is renowned for its high-quality seafood, including salmon, cod, haddock, and trout. Smoked salmon, gravlax (cured salmon), and rakfisk (fermented fish) are popular choices. Traditional dishes like lutefisk (dried fish treated with lye) and klippfisk (dried and salted cod) are also enjoyed.
  • Lamb and Game: Lamb is a common meat in Norwegian cuisine, often served in various preparations. Game meats like reindeer, elk, and venison are also popular, especially in northern regions. Raspeballer, a type of potato dumpling, is a traditional dish often served with meat.
  • Potatoes: Potatoes are a staple in Norwegian meals and are used in various forms, such as boiled, mashed, or as a side dish. Raspeballer and potetballer are traditional potato dumplings made from grated or mashed potatoes.

Beer Pairing:

I paired this dish with Airmail from Texas Leaguer Brewing Company. It’s an American Blonde Ale and is super crisp, smooth and easy to drink. There’s a slight malty sweetness to it that paired well with the savoury and creamy salmon.

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Salmon with Norwegian Butter Sauce (Sandefjordsmør)

This creamy and luxurious sauce is a Nordic "beurre blanc" that you won't be able to get enough of! Pour this over salmon or any fish of your choice for a decadent dish that's brightened with lemon.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Serves 4 people

Ingredients
  

Norwegian Butter Sauce

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 stick butter cubed
  • sea salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp parsley chopped

Salmon

  • 2-4 filet salmon
  • sea salt
  • 1 tbsp oil

Norwegian Cucumber Salad (Agurksalat)

  • 1 cucumber sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dill chopped

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 lb russet potatoes
  • 1 cup half and half cream heated
  • 1/2 stick butter melted
  • sea salt

Instructions
 

Salmon

  • Take the salmon out of the fridge about 20 minutes prior to cooking. Pat dry the salmon and season with just some sea salt on both sides.
  • In a pan over medium heat, add a touch of oil and sear the salmon skin-side down first. If you’re using salmon without skin, place the presentation side (the side that was the skin side) down first. Keep the salmon searing in the pan and watch the fish cook from the side. You should see the salmon turn more light pink and opaque! After a few minutes you can flip with a spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes (depending on the thickness of the filet) until your desired level of doneness. Set salmon to the side (feel free to cover loosely to keep warm).

Norwegian Butter Sauce

  • Cut up a cold stick of butter into cubes and place them in a bowl over top of another bowl filled with ice.
  • In a pot over medium heat, add the heavy cream and continue to stir for about 5-7 minutes as the cream reduces slightly. Reduce the heat to low and wait for the reduced cream to stop bubbling.
  • Add in the juice from half a lemon, continue to stir, and then slowly add the cold butter cubes into the pot while constantly whisking.
  • Once all the butter has been incorporated you can add in some white pepper, salt, and chopped Italian parsley. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. If you need to heat it back up you can do so over low heat while stirring frequently.

Norwegian Cucumber Salad (Agurksalat)

  • Thinly slice the cucumber into rounds or use a mandolin to slice into ribbons. Mix the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a bowl and submerge the cucumbers into the liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Finish with fresh dill before serving.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

  • Peel potatoes and add to a pot of cold water. Salt, bring to a boil, and cook until you can pierce through the potatoes with a knife. Drain, and either mash by hand, in a mixer, or through a ricer. Heat up cream and butter and pour over mashed potatoes, season with salt, and stir to combine.

Leave A Comment

  1. Brian December 5, 2023 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Now that I am retired I have been back in the kitchen. I grew up loving to cook and bake. It’s been so much fun surfing around for new recipes to try on me and my daughter. Well… she told me that nothing will ever compare to tonight’s dinner. The salmon was cooked perfectly, the sauce came out perfect, the potatoes and cucumbers were perfect. Thank you for sharing this gem. This will be one of very few that will be on repeat.

    • Brita December 11, 2023 at 8:36 pm - Reply

      This made my day!!

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