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We are in the dead of winter and it’s all right: peak knitting time, maximum cozy reading time, quiet reflection and nap time. Still, it can take some effort to keep your spirits up on the greyest, coldest days. 

It won’t surprise anyone to know that I treat every meal as an opportunity for cheer. Lately the cheeriest comfort food in our house has been … salmon teriyaki! Ubiquitous and beloved, salmon teriyaki is also delicious and quick and healthy. It’s a clean and light counter-balance to a steady diet of hearty soups and stews.  

Usually I prefer to cook salmon slow and low in the oven. But for salmon teriyaki I want a burnished caramelized surface, and I’ve hit upon this fool proof technique: I begin the cooking with the salmon under the broiler for quick browning, and then I turn the oven off completely and leave the salmon to finish cooking for a few minutes. You have to keep your eye on the clock or set a timer—the whole procedure is over in less than 10 minutes.

Of course salmon teriyaki wouldn’t be complete without rice (maybe that’s where the comfort lies). I serve the rice topped with roasted sesame seeds or furikake, the delicious Japanese seasoning that contains seaweed, dried plum, bonito, salt and sugar. To complete the meal, heap on the greens like bok choy, chard, or broccoli—sautéed or steamed. And pick up a bunch of scallions to slice and sprinkle over the fish to serve it if you’re feeling fancy. It goes like this …


3 lbs salmon filet*, skin on

½ cup mirin or brown sugar

½ cup soy sauce

Combine mirin or brown sugar and soy sauce in a glass baking dish, or in a ziploc bag—something that will hold your salmon flat. Add the salmon, turning it over a few times to coat all surfaces, then refrigerate it covered, skin side up. I try to start the marinating in the morning of the day I plan to cook it, but even an hour before cooking is fine. Flip the salmon once or twice during marinating if possible.

Take the salmon out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Starting with room temperature fish is key to using this quick broil method.

Place a rack in the position closest to the broiler element, then preheat your broiler to high.

Line a baking sheet with foil and transfer the salmon to the sheet skin side down. Discard the marinade.

Once your broiler is preheated, set the baking sheet directly under the flame. Set a timer for 2 1/2 minutes, and when the timer goes off, check the salmon and rotate the pan if needed to get even browning. Close the oven door. Give the salmon another quick check after one more minute. You want to see an even, dark mahogany color but no burning, which can happen fast. If you are happy with the color of the salmon, close the door again, turn the broiler off, and reset your timer for 5 minutes. Do not open the oven door during this time.

After 5 minutes remove the salmon quickly, closing the oven door immediately to retain heat. (This is in case you want to cook it for another minute or so.) Check for doneness by inserting a small knife into the flesh and taking a peek inside. If the fish barely retains a hint of translucency, it’s ready—it will continue to cook a bit as it rests and while you assemble the rice and vegetables. If you want it cooked more, simply return the pan to the oven for 1–2 minutes.**

Serve immediately with rice and vegetables. Serves 4–6 

*If you are using a portion of salmon filet rather than a whole piece, shave 1 minute off the cooking time after you’ve turned off the broiler. If you are using salmon steaks add 2 minutes.

**Temperature notes: You don’t need one, but if you’re using an instant-read thermometer, salmon is fully cooked when it registers anywhere from 110–140°F. 110–125°F for rare to medium. Above 125°F for well done.

File it!

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About The Author

For Sarah Ross, everyday cooking is about winging it—with a classic or an old favorite recipe given to her by a friend. These are the recipes that get stained with spills from being on repeat, the ones to share.


  • I just pulled salmon out of the freezer to thaw and will try the recipe tonight!

  • Just wondering if you have tried it on other fish?

    • I have! I have loved the results with halibut and cod. Haven’t tried it with thinner filets or whole fish yet. Let me know if you experiment.

  • I’m going to try this next time I have salmon. I’ll be using coconut aminos, because I’m allergic to soy. (Yeah, it sucks not being able to have Chinese food.)

  • This sounds so delicious!!! Salmon is my absolute favorite fish!!! Thank you for a quick easy recipe!!!!!

  • Sounds easy and delicious!!

  • Sarah, thanks for giving us a peek into your kitchen, sharing your cheer and this yummy go-to recipe!! Can’t wait to make it!!

  • This sounds wonderful! I bet the furikake would be good on avocado toast too.

    Could you share your low and slow salmon recipe?

    • Hi Val, Sorry for the late reply. My slow and low is 25 minutes at 300 degrees, usually just salt and pepper anything would be good. Like buttah!

  • Be very careful about the origin of the salmon. If possible avoid entirely farmed salmon, as they often have diseases. On the northwest coast (where wild salmon are the industry) if we bake it, the oven is at 450 or 500, calculate 10 minutes per inch of thickness, and you will have perfectly cooked salmon.

  • i make a version of this quite often as it is both delicious and quick.

    my recipe for the Teriyaki sauce includes the juice squeezed from grated ginger root (only needs an inch or two depending on how much of a ginger kick you like)!

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