Salmon Teriyaki (Recipe Included!)

The following recipe is an excerpt from my up coming book, The Seven Pillars of Washoku. It is not a recipe book per se, however, it will contain some simple recipes. This is from the section dealing with the first pillar of Japanese cooking, fish.

"It would be impossible to have never heard of teriyaki, considering that it is one of the most famous Japanese dishes in the west. Almost every Asian style restaurant, whether it be Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or Thai, will have this item on the menu, usually as beef and/or chicken. However, in Japan it is less common to find meat teriyaki as it is usually used for fatty fishes like salmon, skipjack, yellowtail, trout, and mackerel.

You may be wondering what makes teriyaki teriyaki. In the west the term sort of just means cooked in a sweet sauce, as there are lots of western styled teriyaki sauces. This means that they may use wine instead of sake and mirin, and maybe add things like garlic and pineapple juice, or other non-traditional ingredients. So that the jar of teriyaki sauce that you found at the grocery store probably isn’t strictly teriyaki, but that’s okay because real authentic teriyaki is really easy. I cook it all the time, and can’t say that it is any more time consuming or difficult than opening that jar.

The word teriyaki comes from tare, which refers to the luster of the glaze, and yaki which you’ll hear in a lot of Japanese dishes (like okonomiyaki and yakitori) and means grilled or broiled. The sauce is made with four ingredients, soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar. As with many Japanese meat dishes, the meat is not marinated in the sauce, but is partially cooked and then finished off in the sauce. This is why fatty fish is used rather than white fish, because you want something that is a little firm so it can handle the glazing process without falling to bits.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe for quick and easy salmon teriyaki. I should make a note here that I never measure the ingredients, so here I have the approximate amounts. Start with this and then you should be able to adjust for the amount of salmon you have.

1 lb Wild Alaskan Salmon with Skin
Pinch of Salt
3 Tbls Soy Sauce
3 Tbls Mirin (sweet rice wine)
3 Tbls Sake
1 tsp Sugar (or if you’re avoiding sucrose you could use honey or maple syrup)
Oil for Cooking
Dusting of Either Flour or Potato Starch

1. Take your salmon and rinse it in cold water. Pat dry with paper towel and salt both sides. The salt will help remove any residual “fishiness” and also help cut the fat, so if you’re not in a hurry you can put the salted salmon on a plate and leave it in the refrigerator for thirty minutes. (When in a hurry I have skipped this step with no ill-results).

2. Cut your salmon into four portions, the size will depend on the thickness of the salmon. Dust with either flour or potato starch. This is to crisp the outside and also to trap the juices inside.

3. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat and add a small amount of oil (I use coconut, but any vegetable based oil should be fine). Add the salmon to the pan, skin side down, and cook for about two minutes until it is browned (cooking time will also depend on the thickness of the fillet).

4. While the salmon is cooking (pay attention though so that it doesn’t over cook), combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a bowl.

5. Flip the salmon and cook the other side for about two minutes. The fish should be almost done, not actually done, when you take it off the heat.

6. Place the salmon on a plate and rinse the pan under cold water. This should cool the pan and get rid of any stickiness that might hamper the next step. Put the pan back on the medium heat and add the sauce.

7. Once the sauce begins to boil, transfer the salmon back to the pan. Let each side cook in the teriyaki sauce, turning over to fully coat the fish. This should only take about a minute, do not over cook the salmon.

8. Take the salmon out of the pan and put it on a small plate. A green garnish will set the rich color off nicely.

When I made this dish last night (so I could get the instructions right), I accompanied it with fresh rice, a stir fry of yellow squash and leeks, and a bowl of white miso soup with daikon radish. It was delicious and took less than twenty minutes to make."

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and will love this recipe! I'm still working on finishing up the book, but I hope to have it available by the middle of the summer (self publishing). If you want to get your very own free e-book copy, make sure you sign up for the Newsletter!

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