Asian Salmon (aka Sweet & Savory Salmon)

By Rachel Tiemeyer
December 5, 2021

With the perfect marriage of sweet and savory marinade ingredients, this baked Asian Salmon recipe turns out moist and full of complex flavors. Just 5 minutes of prep, 30 minutes of marinating, and 15 minutes to bake.

baked asian salmon filets on a wooden chopping block, with a bite taken out of one filet

About This Asian Salmon Recipe

This is my go-to salmon recipe around here. It’s simple, fast, moist, and quite delicious!

Difficulty Level: I would say this is an EASY recipe. Even novice cooks could make this one.

Taste: Mmmm. The flavor of this Asian Salmon is complex. It has a sweetness to it but it isn’t…sweet. It also has savoriness from the soy sauce, nuttiness from the sesame oil, and a little heat from the fresh ginger and red pepper flakes.

Cooking Method: I love how easy this recipe is to throw together. It takes 5 minutes to prep the marinade, then the salmon marinates for 30 minutes on the counter, and finally it bakes for about 15 minutes. You can also broil the salmon toward the end of the cook time to help caramelize it on top, if you want. We also suggest boiling the marinade for 2-3 minutes, which turns it into a thickened sauce to drizzle over each piece at the end. Don’t skip that step, as it really adds so much more flavor in at the end.

Serving Size: This recipe makes 6-8 servings and is easy to pull off, so it would make a great main dish to serve when you’re having company. But, if you’re just cooking for yourself or a few people, you can definitely cut the recipe in half.

two asian salmon filets that are fully cooked on a wooden chopping board

Ingredients in Asian Salmon

The marinade for this salmon is really what makes it a winner, so don’t skimp on fresh ginger and green onions. Every ingredient here counts…

  • Soy sauce (Gluten-free option: coconut aminos or gluten-free Tamari soy sauce)
  • Rice vinegar (do not buy seasoned rice vinegar)
  • Sesame oil
  • Honey
  • Fresh ginger – I store mine in the freezer after peeling it.
  • Garlic cloves or pre-minced garlic
  • Green onions or chives
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds of salmon – You can buy one large filet or individual salmon filets, preferably thick (5-6 oz) filets and with skin on to keep them moist.

Step-by-Step: How to Make Asian Salmon

1. In a gallon sized bag, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, ginger, garlic, green onion, red pepper, and pepper. Zip shut and shake to combine.

2. Add salmon filets to the marinade and seal the bag. Set on the counter for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice to evenly distribute marinade. (Tip: This is a good time to get some side dishes started, like rice and veggies. See ideas below.)

salmon filets marinating in a freezer bag

3. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy clean up.

4. Remove the salmon from the marinade with tongs and place it on the prepared baking sheet, skin side down. Bake until cooked almost through, about 15 minutes.*

5. Meanwhile, pour the rest of the marinade in a small pot and boil for 2-3 minutes (this kills any bacteria and reduces it into a sauce). Watch closely so it doesn’t overflow. Set aside to cool and thicken slightly.

6. Serving Suggestion: Serve the salmon warm over brown rice. Drizzle some of the boiled sauce over the top.

What Sides to Serve with This Dish

Like I mentioned, my preferred way to serve this salmon is over brown rice (try our easy Instant Pot Brown Rice recipe) with a drizzle of the reduced sauce. You could also saute some stir-fry veggies to have on the side.

brown rice in bowls

Here are some other side dish ideas that could go well with this salmon recipe…

Side Dish #1: Asian Slaw

asian slaw in a white bowl with serving spoons

Side Dish #2: Oven Roasted Broccoli

roasted broccoli on a pan

Side Dish #3: Fried Rice with Sweet Soy Sauce

fried rice in a bowl with veggies

Word of Caution When Buying Salmon

Be sure to buy WILD salmon, NOT farm-raised salmon. That’s because a study has shown there are 10 times as many PCBs in farmed fish. Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an article here says,

“Basically, that’s a reflection of how much pesticides, antibiotics, other contaminants are used in raising these farmed fish. There’s higher pesticide levels in the farmed fish….They actually raise these farmed fish (with large numbers in pens) … You actually have to give them antibiotics. And a lot of the PCBs and toxins are all part of the farming process that are used to try and keep these fish free of disease….sometimes even inject fish like salmon with red dye or pink dye to make them look more pink, more like their wild counterparts.”

Wild salmon is readily available and affordable in most grocery stores now, but the tastiest wild salmon I’ve had is from ButcherBox. It’s where I get all of my meat, because they offer affordable, healthy (and delicious!) meat from small farmers that is delivered to my doorstep on my schedule. If you order your first box through our link here, you can get $10 off + FREE BACON for LIFE on your first order. (Cancel any time.)

freezer full of ButcherBox meat

Lastly, you can use the frozen wild salmon filets from the store (they are much cheaper than fresh!), but just know that they are usually about 4 ounces each and rather thin. You’ll need to keep a close eye on them in the oven as they will cook much faster than the thicker, fresh salmon filets.

More Salmon Recipes You Might Like

Here are few more salmon recipes from our collection you might enjoy…

Print

Asian Salmon (aka Sweet & Savory Salmon)

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Marinating Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 (4 ounce) servings 1x
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A perfect marriage of sweet and savory Asian marinade ingredients, leaves salmon moist and full of complex flavors. Broiling at the very end helps caramelize the top.


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (Gluten-free option: coconut aminos or gluten-free Tamari soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (I store mine in the freezer after peeling it.)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion, plus more for garnish
  • 1/81/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to your heat preference)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon (one large side or individual salmon filets), preferably thick filets and with skin on

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a large zip top bag, combine honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, green onion, red pepper, pepper, and salt. Zip shut and shake to combine. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Add salmon filets to the marinade and seal the bag. Set on the counter for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice to evenly distribute marinade. 
  3. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Remove the salmon from the marinade with tongs and place it on the prepared baking sheet, skin side down. Bake until cooked almost through, about 15 minutes for thicker filets.*

*Important Salmon Cooking Tips:

  • The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the filet(s). Salmon is done at 145°F internally or when it flakes easily with a fork and no longer looks translucent inside. Check the temperature early, if your filets are thin and small. Do not overcook! When I tested thin filets, they were almost done at 10 minutes.
  • If you want more caramelization on the outside of the salmon, position the top rack about 6 inches from the broiler. When your salmon reaches about 130°F internally, turn on the broiler. Broil the salmon on the top rack for 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through and caramelized on top.

Freeze For Later: Complete Step 1, preparing marinade in a gallon sized freezer bag. If the salmon is not already frozen, place it in a separate freezer bag or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and foil. Squeeze all air out of bags, seal, and freeze together as a meal kit. You could also include a bag of frozen brown rice and stir fry veggies to complete the kit.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the salmon and marinade in the refrigerator or using the cool water method (submerge sealed freezer bags in cold water until thawed–only about 30 minutes). Then, prepare according to Steps 2-6.


Notes

Cooking in Foil: The original recipe called for cooking the salmon in foil. If you’d like to do that, place the salmon and marinade in heavy-duty foil, pull up the sides and seal. Leave some room inside at the top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until done. You may want to use the broiling trick above to caramelize the top more.

Making a Sauce: You can double the marinade and then boil it for 3 minutes while the salmon bakes, if you’d like a sauce to drizzle over the finished salmon.

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4 replies
  1. Tracy says:

    This sounds great. I’m going to try it! Only thing that worries me about the foil packets is knowing when it’s done, since it’s hard to check. I guess I could just broil for longer if it’s not done when I open up the packet. Thanks!

    Reply