Sesame Salmon with Maple Soy Glaze, served with fried shallots and scallions - Diversivore.com

Sesame Salmon with Maple-Soy Glaze

In Recipe by Sean30 Comments

Sesame Salmon

With Maple-Soy Glaze

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This post is part of a series of recipes sponsored by Go Wild! BC Salmon. You can find this recipe and more, along with information about British Columbia’s incredible wild salmon fisheries. All opinions are my own.

You know who I’ve always envied? Those effortless campers. The people who can haul themselves out into nature and just live that effortless-looking wilderness-glamorous lifestyle. Basically the people you see in an SUV commercial. Maybe those people don’t actually exist. I don’t know. But I’ve always had a hit-and-miss relationship with camping. I’ve enjoyed some great experiences in the past – waking up in sunny prairie coulees, watching Golden Eagles crest over the cliffs in northern Peace Country, listening to the (thankfully) distant howls of prairie coyotes – some pretty spectacular stuff really. But I’ve also had my fair share of not-so-photogenic camping moments. A deflated air mattress and flooded tent at three in the morning. Arriving at an isolated campground late and getting locked out. Wind so ferocious that my tent was bent down to about 6 inches above my face. Actually come to think of it, all three of those experiences led to me sleeping in a car – something I have surprisingly positive feelings about. I guess when the alternative is being pummeled by the elements, the reclined front-seat of a Chevy feels surprisingly posh.

But what about the food? Well most of my camping experiences were pre-Diversivore, and I’ll be entirely honest with you – I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to my food. I seem to recall a lot of sandwiches. Now that I’m older and (arguably) wiser, I’ve come to value of good food to a great camping experience. So when BC Wild Salmon asked me to put together a great camping-friendly salmon recipe I dove in with gusto.

Simple + Delicious = Perfection

When I started tossing recipe ideas around, I had to figure out how best to balance flavour and simplicity.  Camping forces you to focus on your preparation and a minimal tool-set after all.  And while those are valuable concepts to focus on, I also wanted to put together a meal that I‘d be proud to serve in any setting and to anyone.  I focused on big flavours and a simple-but-memorable combination of salty and sweet, yielding a dish that’s equally at home on a campsite, in a weeknight meal-prep plan, or at a fancy dinner.  It’s great topped with crispy fried shallots (which you can either make ahead of time or buy as-is), but that’s an optional element.  The salmon, sesame, and sauce all partner beautifully, with a fantastic East-West fusion flavour that pairs wonderfully with simple sides and vegetables.  Honestly, this is easily one of my new favourite salmon recipes, and I’m over the moon about how quickly and easily it can be put together.  And it truly is easy to make – a camping stove, a skillet, and a spatula are really all you need.  There’s an option for grilling too, in case you want to take that route.

Not a camper? No worries.  This is one of those meals that adapts to pretty much any kind of situation.  Need something on a weeknight? No problem – keep some sauce frozen and have it ready in minutes.  Looking to do meal prep? Freeze individual salmon portions and portions of sauce in an ice cube tray.  Got fresh salmon and just want to cook up something wonderful and different? Easy-peasy.  The how-to is broken down in the Recipe Notes section below and there are a few variations you can use depending on whether you’re prepping this for camping, future meals (i.e. frozen meal prep), or immediate use.

Recipe Notes

Easy easy easy. I could probably stop there, but it never hurts to go into some detail for those who need it. If you’re an old hand at cooking salmon, you can probably jump right into the recipe itself – but if you’ve had a few of your fish recipes fall flat before, or you’re looking for help with camping (etc.) prep, read on.

Cooking Salmon

Salmon is a chronically overcooked food, and I think a lot of people have negative (or at least less-than-positive) reactions to it because they haven’t had it done well.  Salmon shouldn’t be cooked to the point that it’s a solid brick that crumbles apart easily.  While you want fish to flake apart (to varying degrees depending on the species), properly cooked salmon should be quite moist and still fairly dark (relative to the initial colour of the fish of course) in the thickest section.  In fact, I don’t think that ‘flaky’ is a particularly good term to describe the thick portion of a properly cooked salmon fillet.  Comparing it to steak might be a bit more appropriate – in which case, shoot for ‘medium.’

It’s not easy to describe salmon cooking in terms of time, as the thickness of the piece of fish can vary so much.  That being said, if you’re cooking with fairly high and direct heat, I find that you seldom need more than 10-12 minutes, and often less than that.  Though it takes a bit of practice, you can tell quite a bit about the doneness of salmon by touching it.  If it’s very soft and doesn’t have any springiness too it (i.e. it feels raw), it’s not done.  If it feels completely solid without any real give to it, it’s overcooked.  So you’re shooting in the middle – firm but with a bit of springiness and softness that rebounds a bit when poked gently with a finger.

Making and Keeping the Sauce

Regardless of the venue you intend to cook this in, you can prepare the sauce ahead of time in order to cut down your cooking time.  You can also make it right before cooking the salmon if you’re cooking at home and not in any kind of hurry.  Even if you’re preparing the sauce from scratch the entire meal shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes, start-to-finish.

The liquid ingredients in the sauce (soy sauce, maple syrup, rice vinegar) can all be combined along with the black pepper and brought to a simmer on the stovetop.  This sauce is reduced down by about 1/3, then the corn starch (mixed with a very small amount of water) is stirred in to further thicken it.  At this point, you can proceed with the recipe or set the sauce aside for future use.  It can be refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen.  I recommend freezing it in an ice cube tray (or similar) so that you can defrost individual portions.  This makes it easy to adjust to the number of people you’re serving, easy to pack, and maximally simple for make-ahead meal prep.

Because the sauce is finished in the skillet (combining with the leftover butter and deglazing the tasty browned bits), you’ll want to make sure that you defrost it before you start cooking.

Camping Prep

If you do plan to take this recipe camping, it’s worth noting a few aspects that will make your prep, packing, and cooking easier.

This is primarily intended to be prepared in individual servings – i.e. individual pieces of salmon topped with sauce.  This allows you to adjust the recipe to reflect the number of campers (if you’d prefer to serve a whole fillet, keep reading the Grilling Variation below).  Depending on how many people you’re cooking for, you can cut individual fillet pieces (about 1.5-2 inches wide) and either freeze them or put them in a cooler for use within 24 hours.  Regardless of the method you can cover the top in sesame seeds ahead of time, or do it right before cooking.  If you freeze the fillets (and/or the sauce) be sure to defrost them completely before cooking.

Make-Ahead Meal Prep

This is a lot like camping prep, but you store things a little differently.  Individual uncooked salmon portions (with or without sesame seeds on top) can be frozen and then placed in a container or freezer bag with a portion of frozen sauce (2 ice-cube-sized portions of sauce should be more than enough).  Simply defrost and use as many portions as needed at any given time.

Grilling Variation

Individual portions or entire salmon fillets can be grilled over an open fire or coals.  Place the salmon (skin-side down) on an aluminum foil sheet along with a bit of butter and a drizzle of oil and lay over a grill carefully.  It’s difficult to brown the sesame seed side this way, but you can still cook the salmon through by either gently turning the fillet pieces over or by folding the foil over to make a packet surrounding the salmon.  It’s tough to capture the melted butter for the sauce if you cook the salmon this way, so you’ll probably want to add a bit of butter (1 tsp or so) to the sauce before serving.  The flavour isn’t exactly the same without deglazed brown bits from a frying pan, but it’s a perfectly delicious alternative if you’re working with a grill/fire-pit and you don’t have a frying pan.  If you want to cook this as a whole fillet (or large fillet portions) you can, though it’s a bit trickier to cook evenly.  Simply prepare the salmon as you would for the smaller portions (i.e sesame seeds on top) and cut the finished product up into individual servings.  You can also cook larger fillet portions in a frying pan, though I personally think it’s easier to just work with smaller portions.

Serving (Fried Shallots, etc.)

Not to complicate things for you, but if you CAN serve this with fried shallots, I highly suggest that you go for it.  They add texture and a wonderful flavour that really sets off the sesame and maple-soy glaze, further amping-up the pan-Asian/fusion flavour profile that’s going on.  You can make your own fried shallots very easily ahead of time by thinly slicing shallots and adding them (in relatively small batches to avoid crowding) to a frying pan or wok with a few inches of very hot vegetable oil.  The shallots are deep-fried until light brown and then drained with a slotted spoon on some paper towel.  The flavoured oil that results from this cooking method is a wonderful ingredient in its own right, but that’s a subject for a different day.  Search for shallot oil and fried shallot recipes for more on this subject.  Homemade fried shallots will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a week or so.  You can also buy fried shallots at some stores, and you could try out any crispy/crunchy alternative topping that tickles your fancy.  Fried tempura bits (available at some Japanese stores) would be great too.

Aside from the shallots, a little sliced scallion (green onion) provides a lovely visual accent and pop of flavour.  Fresh peas are great too, if you’ve got them.  Starchy sides like rice or roasted potatoes are especially nice as an accompaniment.  If you’re feeling fancy and looking to serve this up at a dinner party (etc.), over roasted or pureed parsnips or sunchokes would be fantastic.  But don’t worry – the salmon stands out brilliantly on its own, so don’t feel like you have to do a whole lot to make it work.


Nutrition Facts
Sesame Salmon with Maple Soy Glaze
Amount Per Serving
Calories 301 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 23%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 65mg 22%
Sodium 629mg 26%
Potassium 737mg 21%
Total Carbohydrates 19g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 12g
Protein 22g 44%
Vitamin A 15.1%
Vitamin C 14.3%
Calcium 12.1%
Iron 14.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional Summary

GOOD NEWS:
Good food, folks! Protein-rich, fairly low in fat, and relatively low in sodium even with the soy-sauce based glaze. Even if you haven’t been hiking and burning calories all day, you’ll still find that this hits the spot while remaining quite healthy. Do note however that there are no sides included in this nutritional profile, so don’t forget to take that into account.

BAD NEWS:
A bit low on vitamins as-is. Serve with veggies (and don’t overdo it on the starchy sides like rice) to improve the nutritional profile and keep the calorie count on the lower side.

Ingredient Pages

No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

Pantry Pages

No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

  • Gluten free
  • 30-minutes
  • Pescetarian

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5 from 15 votes
Sesame Salmon with Maple Soy Glaze, served with fried shallots and scallions - Diversivore.com
Sesame Salmon with Maple Soy Glaze
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

A delicious and delightfully simple salmon recipe that can be made ahead and finished in minutes.  Perfect for camping, weeknights, meal prep, or company!

Course: Main Course, Main Dishes
Cuisine: Asian, Canadian
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 301 kcal
Ingredients
  • 600 g Salmon fillet
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
Maple Soy Glaze
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
To Serve (Optional)
  • fried shallots
  • scallion greens chopped
Instructions
  1. Remove the scales and pin bones from the salmon fillet, if it hasn't already been done.  Leave the skin on.

  2. Cut the salmon fillet into individual portions.

  3. Fill a shallow bowl with the sesame seeds.  Dip the tops of the salmon fillet portions into the sesame seeds so that a sesame 'crust' is formed, then set the fish aside.

  4. Prepare the sauce, if you haven't already done so.

  5. Heat a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the butter and oil and melt/swirl to cover the bottom.

  6. Add the fish, skin side down.  Cook until the skin is browned and the fish is starting to cook through from the bottom (about 4-5 minutes).  Spoon butter/oil over the tops of the fillets as they cook.

  7. Gently flip the fish over and cook, sesame-seed-side down, for an additional 2 minutes or so.  Remove the finished fish from the pan.

  8. Add the finished sauce to the hot pan.  It will quickly come to a boil, so don't let it sit in the pan too long or it will scorch the sugars.  Pour the sauce (now combined with butter/oil and some stray sesame seeds) into a bowl to serve.

  9. Serve the salmon fillets with sauce poured over top.  Garnish with chopped scallions and fried shallots, if using.

Maple Soy Glaze
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except for the corn starch in a small pot.

  2. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, then reduce to low.  Simmer until the sauce is reduced by about 1/3.

  3. Combine the corn starch with about 1 tbsp of water in a small bowl.  Whisk/mix until well-combined, then stir into the sauce to thicken it somewhat.  Set the finished sauce aside.  It can be refrigerated for a week, or frozen for many months.

Recipe Notes

If you're preparing the salmon for meal-prep or camping, simply make the sauce ahead of time and coat the salmon fillets in sesame seeds. They can be refrigerated (or kept in a cooler) like this for 24 hours, or frozen for later use.

Comments

  1. Sean!! This recipe is like.. made for me! You know I love salmon AND camping- and woah this is amazing. We’re headed out on a backpacking trip, but I definitely need to try this on my next car camping trip. I LOVE!

    1. Author

      I’m so glad you like it Sarah! I definitely thought of you a couple of times while putting this together. I hope you’ll let me know how it goes!

  2. First of all these pictures are amazing. Truly. I cannot get my family to like salmon but I keep making it anyway in case they change their minds lol. This version is next! Love all the details you add regarding health benefits and preparation.

    1. Author

      Thank you Kristen! I grew up as the sole member of my family with a real penchant for seafood (the others ate some stuff, but not a lot of fish), so I can understand your feelings. Personally I think this recipe might be one of the best introductions for people who are on the fence about salmon. It’s very easy to get on board with!

  3. I haven’t been camping in a long time — and the last time I did was with a previous spouse in the Florida Keys. We woke up to ducks pecking us on the head and well, it didn’t get better from there. I think it would have been much more palatable with a gorgeous salmon dinner like this. The maple-soy glaze sounds like the perfect accompaniment to this salmon recipe. I’ve been stocking up on Coho and Sockeye lately, so that we can continue to enjoy it into the fall and winter — and I definitely want to try this version. Great tips on how cook the flesh, too. Nothing worse than paying $15/pound for fish then have it overcooked. Will be making this (and the fried shallots) in my kitchen very soon. Stunning photos by the way!

    1. Author

      Ducks eh? Well that’s a new one. I definitely think that every camping experience is made a lot better with the addition of a good meal or three. Good call on stocking up on the salmon while you can. It’s tough when it’s out of season and you’re really craving it (but not craving crazy off-season prices). Glad you liked the tips too – I’ll have another recipe dealing with that in more detail soon. Cheers!

  4. This recipe is awesome! I’m a salmon lover and the fact that this can be made for an immediate dinner or as a meal prep and freeze is genius! Love the sauce mentioned as it is similar to one I currently use but like the added maple flavor. And you are spot on in how long to cook it as overcooking it can make the difference between a scrumptious dinner and a dry tasteless dinner. Great recipe and lovely photo of the finished meal.

    1. Author

      Thanks Linda! I’m glad you like it. I really do love when I can create a nice, versatile meal. Thanks for commenting!

  5. You don’t have to ask me twice to eat salmon. We ALL love it here. This glaze sounds amazing…and this would be the perfect entertaining dish too. Those crispy shallots are like icing on a cake….at least for me…I am such a savoury girl. I think I need hubby to fire up the grill this weekend and cook me dinner. I will have a glass of wine (or two) and watch while he cooks. Then I will devour this awesome salmon!!

    1. Author

      Three cheers of salmon, right? Haha. Glad you like the recipe Gloria – and I’m glad you like the shallots too. I wondered if the added step (or shopping component) would put people off but they’re just the perfect way to finish the recipe. I just feel like they take it that extra step further in terms of flavour and texture. I’m totally into the savoury side too, and with a sweet sort of dish like this I definitely appreciate those salty umami-loaded elements. Have fun with the recipe (and the wine!).

  6. Wow this recipe looks absolutely delish!! My husband loves salmon, I can’t wait to make it for him! Thanks for the recipe.

  7. This is some of the most gorgeous salmon I’ve seen, Sean! The salmon fillets, the sesame seeds, the fried shallots, and that beautiful sauce. It’s 6:30 in the morning here, and this dish sounds so good, I wish I could have it for breakfast! 🙂 I love how versatile it is to serve–from camping, to weeknights, and even cooking for company. (Not to mention, what a fabulous way to elevate a camping menu!) Also, I hear you on seriously overcooked salmon. Unfortunately, I’ve had it where it’s completely dried out and flaky in way too many restaurants and it just takes so much away from the dishes. Cooking it to the proper temperature makes SUCH a difference in both the flavor and the texture. You’ve provided such fantastic cooking tips!

    1. Author

      Wow, thank you Amanda! That means a lot to me! And hey, no judgement here – eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner… whatever! Haha. I don’t know why so many restaurants serve salmon seriously overcooked. I can only assume it’s because it’s easier and/or because people freak out if the inside looks ‘rare.’

  8. This is genius! I never really thought to meal prep salmon for camping! I have a camping trip coming up soon so I’m sending this over to our “camp mom” and seeing if this can be something we can make! What a fun and easy way to take camping up a notch. Definitely more yummy than my partner’s dehydration packs LOL. The maple soy combo for the glaze sounds like a delicious burst of flavours.

    1. Author

      Thank you Carmy! I hope that your ‘camp mom’ approves – my friend (who is a total camping pro) was pretty pleased with it, so I think it’ll go over well. And yeah, definitely a step up from dehydrated meals. Haha. Perhaps I’m picky, but if I can’t eat well while I’m camping then I’d rather not camp at all. After all, it is my vacation – and I LOVE food. Cheers!

  9. I don’t ever remember food this good on any of my camping trips. I think looking forward to this beautiful salmon dish could tempt me to try camping again. In the mean time, I’ll take all your tips, fry up some shallots, and make this for dinner on our deck along with some rice and fresh peas. Yum!

    1. Author

      Sounds like a great plan to me! Hope you enjoy it, and thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  10. Love how simple this recipe is. I’m not much for going camping, but real life often insists that things are super easy to make with little time and little clean up. This looks so yummy and I look forward to making it.

  11. What beautiful salmon pieces!! We do love our salmon and the only kind we purchase is the wild caught — it has the best flavor and color in our opinion. We don’t camp out but this method would do well in our backyard grill. I love your sprinkle of sesame seeds on it. Why we haven’t done it I don’t know. We will definitely try your method for our next salmon meal. Your photos of the salmon is making me super hungry!!

    1. Author

      Thanks Marisa! The sesame is a great touch (especially if you get a fillet where the top is looking a bit rough), and so easy to do. Enjoy the recipe, and thanks for the compliments on the photos! This one was a bit of a challenge to shoot but I think things turned out well in the end.

  12. We love salmon- the entire family. I am always looking for new ways to make it. I have no intentions of going camping anytime soon, but tis good to know that this dish can be made ahead. I love easy prep ahead meals that make my life easier when I am in a pinch. I love the sesame seeds on top!

    1. Author

      We’re the same way – can’t get enough salmon in this household. But with that being said, it’s really nice to switch it up and to try a recipe that steps away from our usual routines. This one is easy enough that I think it’ll become a part of the regular rotation anyway!

    1. Author

      We most certainly can talk about those fried shallots. Lol. I love making them. I get tasty shallots, shallot oil, and my wok gets seasoned all at once. Win-win-win. Haha. Glad the whole recipe speaks to you – enjoy it (at home, well away from any campgrounds). Cheers!

  13. Oh my gosh, those people DO exist and I know some of them an are totally jealous of how effortless they make it look! But I have to say, anyone who’s pulling THIS out for dinner while camping WINS hands down. Even with a deflated air mattress and flooded tent!

    1. Author

      Maybe recipes like this are the key to effortless-looking camping? Haha. Whip this up on a little Coleman stove and I’m pretty sure anyone will think you’re a master-camper. They don’t need to know how ridiculously easy it is. Honestly, recipes like that are my favourites anyway – the ones that look and taste so amazing, yet are wonderfully simple. And nobody needs to know about the deflated air mattress if they’re busy eating, right?

  14. I’m the opposite: I don’t envy campers. I tilt my head in confusion and think, “Why do you enjoy this?” Lol. I don’t mind hanging out at a campground around a fire, but when it’s bed time, let me go home to my cozy place.

    I love that you’ve elevated camping cuisine here, though. I would never think to make something like this out on a campsite and hey, that’s probably because of my lack of experience, but even with that this seems so fun and outside the camping box. When it comes to campfire meals, you see a lot of the same recipes circulating.

    I really want to make this — but probably just here at home 😉 Haha.

    1. Author

      I went camping this weekend right after posting this. With the kids. First time we’ve all done that. It was… a mixed bag. We might repeat after a few adjustments (read: a way bigger tent). I do like a nice camping trip once in a while, but I’m definitely on the pickier side when it comes to the right conditions.

      I totally agree with you about camping recipes. When I started working on this recipe I felt like I was seeing the same things over and over and over again, and there’s no need for it. You can do a lot more on a camping stove than I think a lot of people realize without complicating things.

      Hope you get a chance to whip this up – in the comfort of home! Cheers Dana!

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