I said it before and I’ll say it again, the way I see it, salmon is probably the easiest fish to cook out there, especially when it’s in fillets and still has its skin on.
I know a lot of people actually think that cooking salmon is an art, but really, nothing could be further from the truth. Its flesh is so thick and firm and holds its shape so very well, you can basically cook it any way you like and trust that it will remain in one piece for you: grilled, pan-fried, poached or smoked, not one method seems to be too risky when it comes to cooking salmon.
The method that I used to make this Honey Sesame Glazed Salmon has to be one of my favorites. It’s quick, pretty much foolproof and only takes a few minutes from start to finish.
Ideally, though, you will want to marinate the fish for about 4 hours, but making the marinade, which will also double as your glaze, only takes a few minutes; and then when you are ready to eat, cooking the fish will only require about 15 minutes of your time.
In fact, if you’re thinking of serving rice with your fish, you might want to start it before you even get the fish going, otherwise, there’s a very good chance that your fish will be ready before your rice is…
Then, place the fish skin side down in a rectangular baking dish and pour the glaze all over it. Make sure that you choose a baking dish into which the fish will fit rather snugly. You want your fillets to soak in the marinade and if your dish is too large, you might end up with a very thin layer of it at the bottom…
Alternately, you could also marinate the fillets in a zip top bag, if that were easier for you.
Turn the fillets flesh side down so they come in full contact with the glaze and move them around so the they get completely coated.
Cover the fillets with plastic film, making sure that the film comes in contact with the fish and glaze. The less air gets trapped under that film, the more flavor gets infused into that fish!
Now place your salmon fillets in the refrigerator and let them marinate for about 4 hours, but keep in mind that you could also leave them in there for up to a maximum of 8 hours, if you had to.
When you are ready to cook the fish, preheat your oven to 450°F.
It’s extremely important that you wait for your oven to be hot before you start cooking the fish, for salmon cooks very quickly and will only stay in the oven for a very short while. What you are after is very intense heat for a short amount of time.
Once the oven has reached the proper temperature, remove the salmon fillets from the glaze and place them skin side down on a paper towel to help remove excess glaze. If you leave too much glaze on that skin, it’ll only end up charring before the skin’s even had a chance to crisp up…
Transfer the glaze to a small saucepan and set it to simmer over medium heat until it’s reduced by not quite half, which should take about 4-5 minutes, tops.
Once that’s happened, you’ll want to kill the heat and set the glaze aside.
While the glaze is reducing, heat a tablespoon or so of cooking fat or oil in a large oven proof-skillet set over very high heat. Once the pan is scorching hot, carefully add the fillets skin side down.
Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the skin gets really dark and crispy.
Don’t be afraid to let that skin get really dark. Honestly, I think salmon skin is at its best when it’s just on the edge of being scorched.
And you think you’re not a fan of salmon skin because you find it’s kind of gooey and somewhat slimy, I urge you to give it another try. Salmon skin is in fact a terrible, terrible thing to waste; when properly seared, it gets super crispy and crazy tasty. Like I said, the key to success is to not be afraid of intense heat and to even allow the skin to char slightly.
Once you’ve gotten the skin where you wanted it, you will then need to transfer the skillet to the hot oven and let the fish cook for another 5 minutes or so, or until it gets completely opaque on the exterior.
Whatever you do, do not let your fish cook all the way through here, as it will be returning to the oven in a few seconds. When you look at it from up close, you should be able to see that it’s still fairly translucent in the center. Only the exterior should be opaque at this point.
Remove the pan from the oven, set the oven to broil and return the fish to the baking dish in which you marinated it. It might be a good idea to give it a little rinse first, just because, you know…
Technically, you COULD just leave the salmon in the pan, but then the beautiful glaze that you’re about to spoon over it would get all mixed up with the fat and scorched bits that lay at the bottom of the pan, so it would kind of go to waste, which I don’t find would be all that desirable. But if it doesn’t bother you, then by all means, there’s no need to do the transfer. You can just leave the fish right in the pan.
Spoon a little bit of the glaze over each fillet and then place the fish under the broiler until it gets beautifully golden all over and darker around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the fish from the oven once again, and spoon a little bit more of that beautiful honey sesame glaze over the fillets.
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve without delay…
This glazed salmon is at its best the minute it’s out of the oven, while it’s still super moist and tender and juicy. If you let it sit for too long, it’ll continue cooking and may even dry out a bit. So go ahead and eat!
Hope that rice is ready…
Oh, and also too, feel free to spoon more of that delicious leftover glaze over your fish once it’s hit your plate. You wouldn’t want to let that go to waste now, would you?
- 4 salmon fillets, skin on (about 900g | 2lbs total)
- ½ cup unpasteurized honey
- ⅓ cup coconut aminos
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp Himalayan salt
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a glass measuring cup and mix vigorously with a fork or flat whisk until well combined.
- Place the fish skin side down in a rectangular baking dish and pour the glaze all over it. Turn the fillets flesh side down and move them around so they get completely coated with the glaze. Cover with plastic film, making sure that the film comes in contact with the fish and glaze. You want to leave as little air as possible trapped under the film. (you could also marinate the fillets in a zip top bag, if that were easier for you)
- Place the salmon fillets in the refrigerator and let them marinate for 4 hours (or up to a maximum of 8).
- When you are ready to cook the fish, preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Remove the fillets from the glaze and place them skin side down on a paper towel to remove excess glaze.
- Transfer the glaze to a small saucepan and let it simmer over medium heat until it's reduced by not quite half, about 4-5 minutes, then kill the heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon or so of cooking fat or oil in a large oven proof-skillet set over very high heat. Once the pan is scorching hot, carefully add the fillets skin side down. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the skin gets really dark and crispy, then transfer the skillet to the hot oven and let the fish cook for another 5 minutes or so, or until it gets completely opaque on the exterior.
- Remove the pan from the oven, set the oven to broil and return the fish to the baking dish in which you marinated it (it might be a good idea to give it a little rinse first). Spoon a little bit of the glaze over each fillet and then place the fish under the broiler until it gets beautifully golden all around and darker around the edges, about 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the fish from the oven and spoon a little bit more of the glaze over the fillets. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and serve.
- Feel free to spoon more of that delicious leftover glaze over your fish, as desired.