I always hear about how fish is really good for you and everyone should eat at least one serving of fish a week. I grew up with a British grandma who loved fish-and-chips, a Catholic father who occasionally subscribed to the “Fish on Friday” practice, and cousins who lived just a car ride away from the Maryland shore, but fish was never a big part of my diet. My mother used to make tuna noodle casserole (tuna salad to our family) in the summertime and we’d occasionally dine out at Red Lobster (fine dining as a young child), but fish was always, well, “fishy” to me; I mostly stuck to fried shrimp and the occasional crab cake, but that was about it. After college, while I was living back home in Pennsylvania, I took some culinary arts classes at the local community college and in one of the classes, we focused on different food groups each week. During one of my class periods, we focused on fish and seafood; when we sat down to eat, we had fried catfish, salmon topped with mango salsa, oven baked red snapper, shrimp scampi, and more—it was the perfect opportunity to try food I wouldn’t ordinarily be open to and it was the push I needed to delve into cooking and eating fish.
Last week, smack dab in the middle of our new and ongoing “eating healthy” lifestyle, I decided my boyfriend and I could use a little salmon–some heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids sounded like the perfect addition to our diet. Salmon is a hit-or-miss fish for me—certain types, like sockeye, are too “fishy” tasting while others seem to be made more for lox, sushi, and other cold dishes. I picked cheap yet tasty-looking salmon filets from my favorite local grocery store, hoping for a subtle flavor, and they were perfect. My boyfriend and I have been on an Asian flavor kick lately, and a quick visit to Pinterest gave me the result “teriyaki salmon” over and over again, so that’s what I aimed for.
Prep. time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
- Approx. 1/2 cup soy sauce
- Approx. 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Approx. 1-2 tbsp. honey
- Garlic powder
- Approx. 1-2 tbsp. mirin or sherry
- 2 salmon filets, skin on
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 bunch green onion, finely chopped
- Vegetable or peanut oil
For Japanese “Yum Yum” dipping sauce:
- Light mayonnaise
- Approx. 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- Approx. 1/4 tsp. paprika
- Approx. 1 tsp. sugar
- Approx. 1 tsp. tomato paste (or ketchup)
- Approx. 1 tbsp. melted butter
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, mirin, and a pinch of garlic powder. Pour into a bag, add salmon to the bag, seal, and place in the fridge to marinate for 20-30 minutes.
Heat a little oil in a medium pan over medium high heat, then add the broccoli and green onion and cook until the broccoli is just starting to brown and crisp slightly. Reduce the heat, add a splash of soy sauce, a pinch of garlic powder, and a little chicken stock and keep the vegetables warm.
Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat, then remove the salmon filets from the bag of marinade and place skin side up in the pan; reserve the marinade. When the salmon is browned, flip it over to cook the skin side. In the meantime, pour the marinade into a small pot and bring to a gentle boil. Once bubbling, whisk a little water-and-cornstarch mixture into the liquid and let it thicken to a shiny, semi-thick glaze. Brush some of the glaze on the salmon. The salmon, when done, should feel fairly firm when you press a finger down into it and should be lightly pink in the middle and pull easily away from the skin. Serve the salmon with the broccoli and add a drizzle of teriyaki glaze over the broccoli. If you’d like to add a creamy element to the dish, whisk together the ingredients for “Yum Yum” sauce: Add the dry ingredients to a small bowl, then add melted butter, tomato paste, and a little mayo and whisk together. Add a splash of cold water to thin the sauce, then taste—add more mayo to make more sauce and adjust seasoning as desired. Drizzle on the salmon and broccoli or serve as a dip.
Teriyaki sauce is so simple and so perfect—it’s sweet, it’s salty, and it’s somehow meaty too. When cooked down into a gooey glaze, it adds this lip-smacking quality to the salmon, already flavored with the thinned out marinade version of the sauce, and that deep brown color is just stunning. Broccoli is a great, simple side for this dish, and the green onion adds a little pop of flavor to it. I added a bamboo flavored rice to add a little more volume to the dish, but a side of quinoa or brown rice would work just as well, or keep it light and stick to veggies only. This salmon had a light, fresh flavor that shined through the umami goodness of the teriyaki and made for a healthy, filling meal.