鮭の照り焼き Savory-Sweet Salmon Teriyaki

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While I love salmon teriyaki, I don’t eat it that often. Why? I feel guilty for covering it in sauce, a delicious savory sauce, mind you. See, we’re lucky enough to be able to get wild-caught salmon here in the Pacific NW that’s so fresh that you barely need to season it to make it taste amazing. However, when salmon season is over, it’s not quite as fresh and my guilty imp supervisor takes a long nap in the pantry while the salmon’s off marinating🙂 Tonight’s salmon is wild-caught, never frozen coho from our local fishmonger but I’ve been craving teriyaki, so there you have it. This a versatile dish that can easily be made for weeknight dinners but is also elegant enough to serve when guests come over. The savory-sweet teriyaki sauce goes well with the buttery salmon but you could easily adapt this to chicken or tempeh making this vegan-friendly as well. Pretty much any veggies (except maybe corn and tomatoes?) go well with teriyaki sauce so let your imagination run wild and clean out your vegetable drawer. Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, this sumptuous meal is pretty guilt-free: 4 oz of salmon contains 265% of the RDA for vitamin D, 110% vitamin B12, 109% tryptophan, 61% omega-3 fatty acids, 61% selenium and 31 g of protein. So in anticipation of those looong months until it’s salmon season again, it’s time to bust out the teriyaki.

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Tips, please:
1) How to pick a good piece of fish? A deep orangey-red color is indicative of a good piece of salmon, right? Not always. Different species have different natural flesh colors: Chinook or king salmon can be white or red, coho is a light orangey-pink, and sockeye is a deep red. The best test is texture, the flesh should be firm, not mushy to the touch with no ragged gaps in the flesh and there shouldn’t be any slimy texture of strong smell all of which would indicate an older fillet on the verge of going bad. I like to get my fish from the seafood case and most fishmongers will be happy to let you get up close and personal with your future meal. (The mangled divots in the fillet above are from me removing the pin bones :()
2) What if I don’t have mirin? No worries, you can substitute sake + 1/2 tsp sugar or sweet sherry. Why alcohol in the marinade? Mirin is great for getting that fishiness out of fish. Alcohol also is hydrophilic and lipophilic, meaning it plays well with both fats and water allowing the flavors in the marinade to soak into whatever you’re marinating better. But as with all good things, you can overmarinade. Too long and you can chemically “cook” the proteins. And since this marinade also contains salt, too long in salt and you could end up with salmon jerky😦
3) When is my fish cooked? Raw fish is translucent and turns opaque when fully cooked with the usual rule of thumb being about 10 minutes total for a 1-inch thick fillet. Another good test of doneness is to insert a sharp knife into the flesh, it should go through easily with no resistance when fully cooked. Some people like their salmon (and tuna) opaque outside and a little translucent in the center so the knife test is best for this where in this case you’ll want to feel a little resistance halfway into the fillet. I would not wait till the flesh flakes easily. Not only does it mangle that lovely fillet you’ve been lovingly preparing but it also means that your meal will be overcooked by the residual heat as it continues to cook off the stove.
4) Um, the teriyaki sauce and marinade look suspiciously similar. Yup, they are. So if you want, you can use the marinade to make your teriyaki. Presto, change-o. I just included the recipe for reference as I’m sure there’s lots-o-things in the pantry crying out for a drizzle of homemade teriyaki, right? If you have a sweet tooth or have gotten used to the sweetness of Yoshida brand teriyaki sauce, you might want to add another tbsp of light brown sugar as this sauce is sweetly-savory but not sweet!

Salmon Teriyaki
2 4-oz salmon fillets, pin bones removed
4 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp soy sauce (I like Yamasa) **if cooking gluten-free look for tamari soy sauce with no wheat in the ingredients as not all tamari is wheat-free
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp (1 clove) crushed garlic
1 tbsp (3 inches) minced ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3-4 c steamed rice

In a shallow, flat container mix mirin, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and ginger. Place fish skin side up in container and marinate at room temp for 5-10 minutes. (This is not a true marination but really just adding flavor to the outside of the fish so that it will caramelize while cooking.)

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Heat oil in a large skillet over med-lo heat till aromatic but not smoking. Sauté fillets skin side up till they’re opaque halfway up ~4-5 minutes. Turn over and cook the other side for ~4-5 minutes. If your fillet is thinner than 1 inch, it will cook faster, it usually takes ~10 minutes total for a 1-inch thick fillet. Since mirin has a high sugar content and there is also sugar in the marinade, this can burn easily so no string theory computation/multitasking please🙂 Remove fillets from heat. Drizzle teriyaki sauce (see recipe below) over salmon and rice, I usually use 1 1/2 tbsp per 1 1/2 c of rice and fillet. Makes 2 servings.

Teriyaki Sauce
4 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp (1 clove) crushed garlic
1 tbsp (3 inches) minced ginger

In the same skillet used above briskly simmer all the teriyaki sauce ingredients till reduced to the consistency of maple syrup ~10-5 minutes. Serve over salmon and rice.

About Cam

Enjoying the hippie life in Portlandia :)

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