Oleh : WarungQQ
Marinated in a sweet and savory miso sauce, this Miso Salmon makes for a delicious weeknight meal. Enjoy it with Japanese ginger rice!
Salmon is truly one of the best choices of fish out there! I love that the fish is readily available, extremely versatile, and makes a healthy protein for any meal. Today I’m going to share my tried-and-true easy salmon recipe—Miso Salmon (味噌サーモン).
Here, salmon fillets are marinated in a mixture of miso, sake, mirin, and soy sauce, then baked until succulent, and golden brown. You and your family will love how simple and satisfying it is, especially when served with rice and vegetables.
The Use of Miso in Japanese Recipes
Miso is made primarily from fermenting soybeans, salt, koji (a fermentation starter), and sometimes rice or barley for 6 months to 5 years.
From miso soup to salad dressing and seasonings/sauce, it is a common condiment that we use every day in Japanese kitchens. The sweet and salty miso also makes a wonderful marinade that pairs particularly well with fatty fish, like cod and salmon.
I have shared the Miso Cod (also known as Black Cod with Miso) recipe made popular by Nobu on the blog. So for today’s recipe, we’ll learn the best way to apply miso treatment in salmon and how you can get achieve flavorful, tender fish with a golden top that everyone will enjoy.
How to Make Miso Salmon
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Salmon: I recommend using wild King Salmon as the thick size and high fat content makes it ideal for high-heat cooking, like baking. You don’t have to worry about the fish drying out quickly.
- Miso: I use white miso (shiro miso) in this recipe for two reasons. One, it is widely available at Japanese/ Asian markets and mainstream grocery stores. Two, the flavor profile works well with this recipe. If you have other kind of miso, you can definitely use it. Keep in mind that every brand and type of miso has different level of saltiness. So adjust the amount accordingly.
- Soy sauce: I use organic kikkoman soy sauce. Please note that Chinese and Korean soy sauce taste differently. If you plan to cook more Japanese food, please consider getting a Japanese soy sauce.
- Sake: I use a $5-8 drinking sake and do not use a cooking sake that contains other ingredients, like salt. Sake is an important ingredient in Japanese cooking (read why it’s important here). If you don’t have it at the moment, use Chinese rice wine or dry sherry.
- Mirin: Just like sake, mirin is another important condiment for Japanese cooking. More about it in this post.
- Roasted sesame oil: We just need a tiny bit for the aroma.
- Garnish: toasted black and white sesame seeds, and chopped green onion
Overview: Cooking Steps
- Make the miso marinade and marinate the salmon for 1-2 hours.
- Remove the marinade from the salmon and bake it.
- Change to a broiler and cook until the salmon are nicely charred. Serve and enjoy!
Should We Bake or Broil the Fish?
You may wonder which is the best choice for cooking this Miso Salmon. I recommend baking it because we use thick fillets and they are miso-marinated. I only switch to the broiler for the final touch so the fish achieves a nice crisped skin.
Here, I summarized the differences between broiling and baking fish, and which type of fish is suitable for broiling or baking for your future reference.
When you broil fish, the infrared energy from the heating element cooks the fish that’s placed closer to the broiler at the top of your oven. Broiling is a much faster cooking method and the fish will brown beautifully, but it will likely burn miso, fresh herbs, and the other garnishes. You’ll need to keep a close watch on the food to prevent burning.
When broiling, you don’t control the temperature in the oven; instead, you control the distance between the broiler and the surface of the food. It’s similar to using hotter and cooler zones on your grill.
Fish suitable for broiling:
- Fatty fish—salmon (thin-cut only), mackerel, and swordfish
- Moderately lean fish—cod, haddock (should be brushed with oil before broiled)
- Thin fish fillet—Japanese fish cut is often very thin (sold at Japanese supermarkets)
When you bake fish, hot air cooks the fish. The heat is carried through your oven by slow-moving natural currents of hot air, which is why baking takes a relatively long time. But it can be relaxing as you do not need to pay attention constantly.
Fish suitable for baking:
- Fatty fish—salmon, mackerel, and swordfish
- Whole fish
- Thick and large fish fillets
- Lean and fragile fish—sole
Important Cooking Tips
- Use skin-on salmon — Don’t remove the skin. It will prevent the flesh from overcooking and drying out. You don’t have to eat it, but keep it on!
- Remove small bones and scales from the skin — It might be off-putting for your dinner guests to find fish bones and scale while they are enjoying the salmon. You can make sure they are completely removed before you marinate the salmon.
- Remove the miso marinade — When cooking miso-marinated food, regardless if it’s fish or meat, you must remove the marinade completely because miso burns very easily. There will be plenty of flavor already. If you still want a nice glaze, brush on the miso marinade right before you take out the dish from the oven. Just make sure you don’t burn the dish right when you are about to finish cooking! 😉
- Bake the salmon until an internal temperature of 125-130°F* (52-54ºC) is registered at the thickest part of the fillet. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer or probe, our recommended baking time is 5 minutes per ½-inch (1.3 cm) thickness of salmon (measured at the thickest part). More about it in the Q&A section.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wait, you said to bake the salmon until an internal temperature of 125-130°F (52-54ºC). I thought we have to cook it to 145°F (63ºC)!!!
The USDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of 145°F (63ºC); however, the remaining heat will continue to cook the salmon, resulting in well-overcooked fish. There are many discussions online on this topic, and many reputable cooking websites do recommend cooking the salmon to 120-130ºF (49-54ºC).
How do you know when the salmon is done?
The best method is to use a probe (that comes with your oven) or an instant-read thermometer. You don’t need to guess if the salmon is cooked to the right temperature. It’s perfect every single time. Why resist?
Otherwise, our recommended baking time is 5 minutes per ½-inch (1.3 cm) thickness of salmon (measured at the thickest part). The only way you can tell if it’s done is by cutting the fillet or pricking it with a fork to see if it flakes nicely.
A probe thermometer allows you to track the temperature of your chicken, turkey, salmon, etc. as they cook so you don’t have to repeatedly open the oven door to test.
However, an instant-read thermometer is a lot more versatile. You can check the temperature of your deep-frying oil and pan-fried fish or steak.
One last thing to note: There are many types of salmon (King, Coho, Sockeye, Atlantic, Arctic Char, etc.) that come in different thicknesses and textures, so you will still need to slightly adjust the temperature.
Can I marinate the salmon overnight?
Miso is quite salty, so I don’t recommend marinating the salmon overnight. Also, to marinate the salmon evenly, I recommend cutting a one-pound salmon fillet into two to four pieces. One to two hours is my recommendation. If you feel it’s not flavorful enough, please adjust to your liking.
What to Serve with Miso Salmon
For a hearty yet wholesome family dinner, I enjoy serving Miso Salmon with Ginger Rice. The rich flavor of miso-marinated salmon is lovely when matched with the aromatic ginger-infused rice.
Here are other delicious side dishes that you can serve with Miso Salmon.
Other Delicious Salmon Recipes on Just One Cookbook
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Marinated in a sweet and savory miso sauce, this Miso Salmon recipe makes a delicious weeknight meal. Enjoy with Japanese ginger rice!
For the Garnish (Optional)
To Bake the Salmon
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and attach the probe to the oven. Bake the salmon (no need to flip it) until an internal temperature of 125-130°F* (52-54ºC) is registered at the thickest part of the fillet, for roughly 18-20 minutes. If you don’t have a probe, I highly recommend getting a Thermapen instant-read thermometer. If you don’t use a thermometer, our recommended baking time is 5 minutes per ½-inch (1.3 cm) thickness of salmon (measured at the thickest). *If you prefer medium rare, you can stop cooking at 120ºF (49ºC). *The USDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of 145°F (63ºC); however, the remaining heat will continue to cook the salmon, resulting in well-overcooked fish.
This step is optional. To give a nice char on the salmon, we will broil the salmon. Remove the probe from the salmon and oven. Change the oven setting to broil high (550ºF/288ºC), but keep the oven rack placed in the center position, 9 inches* (23 cm) away from the top heating element. Broil the salmon on high for 3 minutes or until the surface is blistered and browned a bit. *When broiling, you don’t control the temperature in the oven; instead, you control the distance between the heating element and the surface of the food. It’s similar to using hotter and cooler zones on your grill.
I always discard the marinade (that’s why I try to use the least amount of condiments), but if you don’t want to waste it or made too much, you can dilute the marinade with water and cook it for a few minutes. Serve it with the salmon or use it for other dishes.
I served the salmon with the Ginger Rice. Top the salmon with sesame seeds and thinly sliced scallions. Enjoy!
Calories: 308 kcal · Carbohydrates: 3 g · Protein: 40 g · Fat: 13 g · Saturated Fat: 2 g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 g · Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g · Cholesterol: 109 mg · Sodium: 423 mg · Potassium: 1003 mg · Fiber: 1 g · Sugar: 1 g · Vitamin A: 144 IU · Vitamin C: 1 mg · Calcium: 36 mg · Iron: 2 mg
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 2, 2014. The post has been updated with revised, clear instructions (still the same recipe) with new step-by-step pictures, final photos, and video in February 2022.