I love fish. It is probably my favorite food. And salmon is one of my favorite fish dinners. Not only does salmon have a lot of really great health benefits, like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and protein, but it’s filling. You don’t walk away from this meal hungry.
I usually pair this salmon recipe with steamed broccoli and brown rice. They not only taste great with the salmon, but also fill out your plate with some of the healthiest versions of all three macronutrients.
Another great thing about this recipe is that you can use frozen salmon. If you have access to fresh salmon, by all means, use fresh salmon. But using frozen salmon is a great way to save time — no last minute grocery store trips — without risking the flavor and quality of your dish.
When cooking salmon, there are three levels of doneness:
- Raw salmon will be somewhat translucent and pink and hard to spear with your fork.
- Perfectly cooked salmon will be opaque and flake on your fork.
- Overcooked salmon will have white, fatty build-up on the surface (albumin).
Albumin is a protein that rises up and out of the muscle fibers as it cooks. The longer you cook salmon, the more albumin surfaces. You don’t want to eat it, so scrape it off your fish, but it is a good way to gauge whether you overcooked your salmon.
2 4 oz filets of salmon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp minced ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a squeeze of lemon juice
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional for a lovely warm heat and smokiness)
a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional for added spice)
See Measurement Conversions
Modifications to the ingredients based on personal preference or lack of time:
- SAVORY: If you want your sauce a little more savory than sweet, decrease the brown sugar to 2 tbsp.. That is especially advisable if you use low-sodium soy sauce instead of regular.
- GINGER: If you love ginger, you can add an extra tsp of ginger. If you are not as big of a ginger person, you can decrease the amount by 1 tsp. If you are short on time, you can use 2 tsp minced ginger from a jar or 1 tsp ginger powder.
- GARLIC: If you love garlic, you can add an extra clove of garlic. If you are not a fan of garlic-heavy dishes, you can decrease the amount by 1 clove. If you are short on time, you can use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. You will want to use 1/2 tsp of garlic powder instead of two fresh cloves.
To make the glaze, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes into a bowl. Mix together until the sugar dissolves.
- If you are using frozen salmon, skip to step 3. If you are using fresh salmon, you can marinate the fish in the glaze before baking. In that case, you would make the glaze two hours before cooking. You would put it and the salmon into a sealed bag, making sure to fully coat the salmon in the glaze. Then, you would place the bag into the fridge to let the salmon marinate for about two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400F (205C).
Spread a sheet of aluminum foil on a shallow baking tray. Either spray some non-stick spray or drizzle a thin coating of olive oil (~1 tbsp) on the aluminum foil to keep the fish from sticking while it’s baking.
Place either the frozen salmon filets or the marinated fresh salmon filets on the coated aluminum foil, flesh side up if there is skin. If the filets are frozen, pour the glaze over the top of the salmon. It will look like a lot, but trust me, you will want the extra sauce.
- Wrap the foil up around the salmon to fully enclose the filets in a little aluminum package.
- Place the baking tray into the preheated oven and let the salmon bake. For fresh salmon, you will want to bake it for about 15-20 minutes.. For frozen salmon, you will want to cook it for about 35-40 minutes. Make sure to check on your salmon near the end to gauge its level of doneness so you don’t overcook it.
When the salmon is done, take it out of the oven and let the filets rest in the foil for a few minutes before serving.