Whether it's fish or chicken or veggie, the wonderful, slightly sweet, salty umami flavor of a well-made teriyaki satisfies the taste buds in so many ways. Some clumsy teriyakis overpower the flavor of the main ingredient. But with succulent salmon -- or any high-quality protein or veggie -- you want a teriyaki that enhances and complements the flavor instead of masking it.
This easy teriyaki salmon recipe doesn't marinate the fish ahead of time, because the wonderful salmon has its own flavor that you don't want to cover up. The sauce simply complements it and adds wonderful umami flavors.
The salmon itself can be pan-seared, grilled or baked. But crispy salmon skin is something to love. That's why I will usually go with the pan-seared method for cooking the fish for teriyaki salmon.
What You'll Ned
- High-quality Salmon - Wild Alaskan Coho was used in this post. Coho has a more mild flavor which is great for letting the teriyaki share the stage.
- Tamari or Soy Sauce - Tamari is a Japanese soy sauce that is a little thicker, less salty and has a more balanced flavor than regular soy sauce. It's also gluten-free.
- Brown Sugar - Can substitute honey.
- Finely Chopped Garlic - While not traditional to Japanese cuisine, a little enhances the umami.
- Fresh Grated Ginger - Adds that wonderful gingery flavor and a very subtle kick.
- Toasted sesame oil - Adds a slight nuttiness to the sauce.
- Mirin - A subtly sweet Japanese rice cooking wine. Adds a slight acidity to balance the sauce. Traditional Hon mirin is about 14% alcohol, and shio mirin or shin mirin has little or no alcohol.
- Garnish with sliced green onions
Where Does Teriyaki Come From?
The word "teriyaki" is actually a combination of two Japanese words; "teri" means glazed or glossy, and "yaki" means grilled or broiled. And teriyaki traditionally refers to the method of cooking rather than the sauce or dish itself. Teriyaki developed in 1600s in Japan, and came to the U.S. in the 1960s, first becoming popular in Hawaii. Fish is the customary ingredient in teriyaki, but other meats and even vegetables have really become popular.
How to Make Teriyaki Salmon
There are two main steps to making teriyaki salmon. The first is to cook the salmon, which you can do in your favorite method. Either pan-seared or baked is a great way to go, but it can also be grilled. The other main step is to make the teriyaki sauce, which can be done while the salmon is cooking.
It's great to brush some of the teriyaki sauce onto the salmon during the cook. This creates a glaze around the salmon that helps the sauce stick to the outside.
- Lightly season the salmon with Kosher Salt and cook in a skillet or in the oven.
- Make the teriyaki sauce by combining all of the sauce ingredients (except for the cornstarch and mirin) in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, make the thickener by whisking the mirin and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. Add to the sauce and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. If you want to skip the thickener, you could just continue to cook the sauce down to thicken it.
- Finish by spooning the teriyaki sauce over the salmon and serving hot.
Baked Teriyaki Salmon
Salmon teriyaki can also be baked in the oven. Yep, it's wonderful this way too! While you don't usually get crispy skin in the oven, baking salmon does avoid the potential mess that cooking in a hot skillet can make.
Simply season and bake the salmon at 400 degrees F until the internal temperature reaches 125 to 130 degrees F for medium or 140 for well done, about 10 to 14 minutes (depending on the size of the filets). You could even broil it for crispy skin, just be careful not to overcook it.
Make it a Bowl
Salmon teriyaki is amazing in a nutritious and simple bowl with rice and quick stir-fried vegetables (especially bok choy), or even steamed veggies. Not only are these great for dinner, but you can make an extra for lunch tomorrow.
An exotic wild or forbidden rice, quinoa, couscous or other grains also make for a great teriyaki bowl.
What Goes with Salmon Teriyaki?
Rice is obvious, but then there are the veggies. The perfect sides for salmon teriyaki are usually bright green vegetable that is slightly crunchy. These veggies can be equally as delicious as the salmon with a drizzle of teriyaki sauce on top. Sauteed Broccolini, steamed broccoli, green beans, stir-fried baby bok choy or even crispy roasted brussels sprouts are all wonderful sides for the salmon.
More Delicious Salmon Recipes
- Grilled Salmon with a burst tomato sauce
- Cedar Plank Salmon
- Creamy Lemon Vodka Salmon Pasta
- Sous Vide Salmon with Lemon Farro Risotto
- Simple Hot Smoked Salmon
- Crispy Salmon Cakes with Sauce Gribiche
- 4 Salmon Filets
- Kosher Salt
- 1 tablespoon Canola Oil for searing the salmon
- ⅛ cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce or Tamari
- 2 cloves Finely Chopped Garlic
- ½ teaspoon Grated Fresh Ginger
- ¼ teaspoon Cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Mirin (or water)
- Sliced green onions for garnish
To cook the salmon
- Heat a 12" nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
- Pat the salmon filets dry with a paper towel, then season lightly on all sides with kosher salt.
- Carefully place the salmon skin-side down in the skillet to crisp the skin, for about 5 minutes. Turn the salmon over using a fish spatula and reduce the heat to medium.
- Cook for about 2 more minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 125° F for medium-rare or 130° F for medium. You can brush some of the teriyaki sauce on the salmon while to second side cooks to create a glaze.
Make the teriyaki sauce while the salmon cooks
- Make the sauce (over medium-low heat) by bringing the brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger to a light boil.
- In a small bowl, whisk with a fork the corn starch with the mirin. Add this mixture to the sauce, stir in and simmer over low heat until the sauce reaches the desired consistency, about 5 minutes.
- Drizzle the teriyaki sauce over the salmon and warm through.
- Garnish with sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
- The salmon can also be baked in the oven.
- If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little more Mirin.
- If you want to skip the thickener, you can simly continue to cook it down until the desired consistency is reached.
- To glaze the salmon with the teriyaki; brush the sauce over the salmon as it cooks.