Salmon Pasta in Anchovy-Garlic Sauce

Top view of salmon pasta with baby spinach, parsley, and grated cheese in a plate.

5 from 1 review

Flaked pan-fried salmon gets tossed with garlic, chilies, pasta, baby spinach, capers and more in a delectable butter and olive oil-based white wine sauce!



For the Pan-fried Salmon:

  • 4 Salmon Fillets, boneless, skin-on (about 120 grams/45 oz. per fillet)
  • ¾ TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
  • ¼ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 TBLS Olive Oil (or any other cooking oil), for frying

For the Salmon Pasta with Anchovy-Garlic Sauce:

  • 8 ounces/227 grams uncooked Bucatini Pasta (or any other noodle-type of pasta such as linguini, spaghetti, capellini, etc.)
  • 3 TBLS Unsalted Butter
  • ½ TBLS Olive Oil
  • ½ Yellow Onion – finely chopped
  • 6 Garlic cloves – finely minced
  • 26 Red Chilies (optional), to taste (Bird’s Eye preferred, but any small hot red chilies will work) – finely chopped
  • 6 Kaffir Lime Leaves – destemmed and finely minced into a powder (substitute grated zest of 1 lemon if unavailable)
  • ½ cup Dry White Wine (I recommend sauvignon blanc)
  • 1 TBLS Anchovy Paste
  • 1 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 1.5 TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 TSP Crushed Red Pepper Chili Flakes, to taste
  • ½ TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) Cheese
  • 2 TBLS Flat-leaf Parsley – finely chopped
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach (or baby kale) – washed, pat-dried with paper towels or run through a salad spinner
  • ½ cup Reserved Pasta Water
  • 1 TBLS freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 23 TBLS drained Capers
  • To Serve/Garnish: More chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese



  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Finely chop/mince the onion, garlic, red chilies, kaffir lime leaves and parsley as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section. Wash and dry the baby spinach leaves and set aside.
  2. Prepare the salmon: Remove the salmon fillets from the packaging they came in and gently wipe them dry with paper towels. Place the fillets on a plate and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

For the Salmon Pasta with Anchovy-Garlic Sauce:

  1. Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta 1-2 minutes shy of al-dente according to package instructions in a large pot (or use the same deep sauté pan you’ll use for the pasta dish) of boiling salted water. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water, then drain and set aside. (I like to run water over the pasta to prevent it from cooking further and sticking.)
  2. Pan-fry the salmon: Heat 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, place the seasoned salmon fillets skin side down in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then turn the fillets over and cook for another 3 minutes. Use tongs to turn the fillets onto their sides and cook for 15-20 seconds to crisp them up too. Switch off the heat and transfer to a clean plate. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, then remove and discard the skin and use a fork to flake the flesh.
  3. Sauté: Heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and is frothing, add the onion and garlic. Sauté for a minute until the onion is translucent and has softened. Add the red chilies and finely minced kaffir lime leaves, and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Make the sauce: Pour in the dry white wine, and add the anchovy paste and low sodium light soy sauce. Stir continuously for about a minute until the paste dissolves, then let it simmer until the wine reduces by half.
  5. Add the pasta and seasonings: Add the pasta, freshly cracked black pepper, crushed red pepper chili flakes, and ground cayenne. Toss for 30 seconds to combine.
  6. Toss through greens: Add the baby spinach and parsley and toss until spinach has slightly wilted – about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the salmon and cheese: Add the flaked salmon, freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and pour in the reserved pasta water. (Note: If you’d like to preserve the crispy texture of the pan-fried salmon, skip adding it now and serve on top of the plated pasta later.) Toss continuously for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce thickens and clings to the pasta. Stir in the lemon juice and capers, then switch off the heat.
  8. To Serve: Divide evenly onto plates and garnish with more chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese if desired. Serve immediately!



Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, and FAQs

  1. Salt: I didn’t add additional kosher salt to the pasta as found that the starchy pasta water made it salty enough for my taste. I recommend tasting the pasta before switching off the heat and add more salt if needed based on your preference. Also, tubed anchovy pastes tend to be saltier than tinned anchovies. If using the latter, you may need to add more salt.
  2. Chilies: Adjust the quantity of chilies you use (or omit them if you’re not big on heat) based on your heat level preference. Same goes for the crushed red pepper chili flakes and ground cayenne.
  3. Can I use canned anchovies instead of anchovy paste? Yes, drain the tin of anchovies packed in oil and mash the anchovy fillets into a paste. Use 1 anchovy fillet per 1/2 teaspoon of anchovy paste needed – you’ll need 6 fillets for this recipe.
  4. To make it gluten-free: Use a gluten-free pasta and gluten-free soy sauce
  5. See post above for more tips.


Keywords: Salmon pasta, anchovy pasta, pasta with anchovy