A must-keep Teriyaki Salmon recipe with an authentic Japanese homemade teriyaki sauce. Serve the delicious salmon with fluffy rice, miso soup, and a side of grilled asparagus for a healthy dinner!
Growing up in Japan, I enjoyed eating a variety of fish, and salmon is one of the most available fish we eat at home. It’s a great source of protein and healthy Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. Today I’m going to share with you an authentic Teriyaki Salmon recipe, and show you how the Japanese make it at home.
Over here, salmon fillets are pan-grilled until nicely golden brown but the meat is still tender and juicy. We then finish it off with a sweet-savory glazed homemade Teriyaki Sauce. It’s easy and absolutely no fuss.
Make Authentic Teriyaki Salmon at Home
I noticed most of the teriyaki salmon recipes online are quite different from how the Japanese make it at home. Here are the main differences:
No Store-Bought Teriyaki Sauce
In Japan, convenient “teriyaki sauce” in a bottle is not widely available like the ones you can find in American grocery stores. We always make teriyaki sauce from scratch for each recipe. Every family makes the sauce slightly differently based on their preference and ingredients that they are using. See more about authentic teriyaki sauce in the next section.
No Need To Marinate
Japanese cooking places great importance in bringing out the original flavor of the ingredients. We don’t want to overwhelm the main ingredient(s) with spices and seasonings. For this recipe, we use sliced salmon fillet which is very delicate. Therefore, we don’t want to marinate the salmon with teriyaki sauce before cooking.
No Oven Cooking
I believe there are three reasons why we don’t use the oven for cooking teriyaki salmon:
- It’s not common to use an oven for Japanese cooking, especially when it comes to traditional recipes like this.
- Older Japanese kitchen doesn’t have an oven, so most of the cooking is done over the stovetop. Most of the newly built homes come with an oven now, but we still prefer to cook salmon teriyaki over the stovetop.
- In Japan, most salmon is cut diagonally in thin slices, therefore cooking time is faster than the oven.
Thin-Cut of the Salmon Fillet
In Japan, the salmon fillet is sliced differently than in the US. You will find the fillet available in diagonal cut and thinner slices. Each cut is about ½ to ¾ inch thickness. If you buy salmon as a whole fish, you can fillet it the Japanese way. It will cook faster and absorb flavors quickly.
Homemade Teriyaki Sauce with 4 Ingredients
If you see teriyaki recipes in Japan, 99% of “teriyaki sauce” is made of 4 ingredients: soy sauce, sake, mirin, and optionally sugar. The best way to start making teriyaki sauce is to use equal parts of soy sauce, sake, and mirin. If you need a bit more sweetness, just add sugar to your liking. That’s the basic of teriyaki sauce.
Japanese cooking doesn’t require many condiments compared to other ethnic cuisines. However, two of the essential pantry items I highly recommend are sake and mirin. Japanese recipes use both of these condiments 90% of the time (have you noticed?). You can’t create authentic Japanese flavors without sake and mirin because they are essential to Japanese cooking.
Salmon and Its Health Benefits
My family loves seafood, and we especially enjoy salmon for its many health benefits.
Salmon is loaded with protein and the two omega 3s — DHA and EPA — that helps with brain, nerve, and eye development. As the body can’t make omega-3 fatty acids, the best way to obtain them is through the food we eat.
If you love salmon, you can try out my other salmon recipes which I share on my blog. If you are not a salmon fan, you can always substitute this recipe with fresh seasonal fish (including white fish).
What to Serve with Teriyaki Salmon
With a sweet and savory soy-based flavor, teriyaki salmon pairs perfectly well with many different side dishes. For a quick yet healthy weeknight dinner, I like to serve the fish with pan-grilled asparagus and miso soup, alongside steamed rice. Other veggies such as green beans, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflowers, and spinach are also delicious with salmon. If you’re looking for more ideas, here are some suggestions I think you’d like:
- Summer Vegetables Baked in Parchment Paper
- Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- Spinach with Sesame Miso Sauce
- Japanese Potato Salad
- Roasted Cauliflower Kale Salad
- Green Bean with Crumbled Tofu & Sesame
Pairing Teriyaki Salmon With Wine
For today’s recipe, I paired it with 2014 Masi Masianco. This particular wine is a blend of 2 grapes, Pinot Grigio and Verduzzo from 2 different vineyards and harvested at a separate time. This distinct mix offers a more complex palate compared to other Pinot Grigios.
As you smell it, you notice it’s mature and full-bodied for white wine. After the first sip, the initial thoughts are soft and light, yet as you drink the wine you feel it becomes creamy. Quite an interesting change in character. Unlike some white wine which can be quite sweet, it is pleasantly balanced in taste. We also like that it has a refined dry finish which leaves the mouth refreshed. This wine contrasted very well with the teriyaki salmon and we recommend it for other seafood too.
Leftover Teriyaki Salmon?
Make this Salmon Onigirazu!
Hungry for more delicious Teriyaki recipes?
Don’t miss our 17 Best Teriyaki Recipes You Must Make at Home!
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
- 2 fillets skin-on salmon fillet (½-¾ lb, 227-340 g; ½-¾" (1.3-2 cm) thickness, the skin will hold the flesh together while cooking)
- ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour (plain flour) (Coating the fish with flour helps to keep the nice umami and juice inside the fish. Also, the texture will get crispy and absorb the sauce nicely.)
- ½ Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc)
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp sake (can substitute it with Chinese rice wine or dry sherry)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Combine the ingredients for Seasonings and mix well until the sugar is mostly dissolved (or you can microwave for seconds). Rinse the salmon and pat dry. Season the salmon with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides.
- Sprinkle ½ Tbsp of all-purpose flour on one side of salmon and spread evenly. Flip over and sprinkle the rest of the flour on the other side. Gently remove the excess flour.
- In a frying pan, add the vegetable oil and melt the butter over medium heat. Don’t burn the butter. If the frying pan gets too hot, reduce heat or remove it from the heat temporarily.
- Add the salmon fillets, skin side on the bottom (this will be top when you serve). Cook the salmon for 3 minutes, or until the bottom side is nicely golden brown, and then flip.
- Add sake and cover with a lid. Steam the salmon for 3 minutes, or until it's cooked through. Remove the salmon to a plate.
- Add the seasonings to the pan and increase the heat a little bit. When the sauce starts to boil, add salmon back in the pan and spoon the sauce over the salmon.
- When the sauce thickens, turn off the heat. Plate the salmon on a plate and serve immediately.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for 2 weeks.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Apr 25, 2013. The post is updated with a new video and images in May 2016.