Monday, July 26, 2010

A Grilled Salmon Sauce So Simple Even Someone Like You Can Make It

There's a certain art to making a recipe sound very easy and approachable, but at the same time not insulting people's intelligence.

I always get a little chuckle when I see food blog articles that contain wording like, "…for Dummies" or "A Complete Idiot's Guide to…"

Of course, since Food Wishes enjoys the reputation for having the smartest, cleverest, best looking audience in the entire blogisphere, I don't need to resort to such discourteous phraseology (pandering is another story).

Having said that, if you are indeed a dummy, and/or an idiot, pay particular attention to this amazingly simplistic salmon sauce recipe.

I never get tired of this style of grilled fish topping. As I say in the clip, there isn't really anyway to screw this up. As you watch the video, I want you to already be thinking about how you would tweak the formula.

As long as you start with the basic brown sugar and rice vinegar reduction, you can swap out any of the other ingredients to create countless versions.

This is really wonderful on salmon, but equally delicious on swordfish, halibut, tuna, or any other firm, full-flavored fish. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
4 (8-oz) grilled salmon filets (by the way, fish was salted before grilling)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sambal chili sauce, or any spicy Asian-style chili paste
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger or ginger puree
4 cloves garlic, very finely crushed or minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce, or to taste
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup basil chiffonade


Kevin said...

How do you grill Salmon?

Anonymous said...

Kevin ... LOL, touche' !

KrisD said...

oh my goodness, I panicked for you at the dramatic music sting--I am glad you dug deep and succeeded.

Hmmmm, already tweaking the recipe.
Wouldn't that be awesome with fish sauce, thai basil, and a squeeze of lime? Or Lemon Basil (which tastes remarkably like adding lemongrass)

Off to raid my basil garden....

nossi said...

my mouth's watering...looks good, as always

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hey Chef John, great sauce, it looks delicious. But i got a problem, i might be one of those dummies that don't know how to grill a salmon properly...any tips?

AceTravis said...

The salmon you made was Wild Alaskan , right?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef! Thanks for this sauce idea. No cold butter finish or is this sauce not work w/ that technique?

Chef John said...

This piece of salmon was from Loch Duart...

You could add butter to the sauce to finish it and make it richer, but that's not what this style
of sauce it. This is a light, sharp sauce to contrast the oily fish. Better w/o IMO.

Rita said...

now that hubby's on a business trip, abd he hates salmon, i sure will try that for myself!

Jamie said...

It's really similar to the Ginger Garlic Basil Salmon you did earlier, except this is a grilled version. I loved the Ginger Garlic Basil Salmon and I have been making it from time to time. However, I definitely agree this grilled dish has a better presentation.

Anonymous said...

Tried it for dinner. Perfect balance of flavors and very, very easy to make. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Tried it for dinner. Perfect balance of flavors and very, very easy to make. Love it!

Harry Tuttle said...

Made this last night for dinner and even my wife who doesn't care for Salmon loved it! Very nice blend of flavors with the salmon. It's a keeper!

anna said...

Hi there! This recipe sounds great but I would like to know what I can use as a substitute for rice vinegar (can't find it) and for the chili paste (can't handle the heat).

Thank you for your help.

Chef John said...

You can just use a sweet chili sauce, not spicy at all. The rice vinegar is kind of key. Where are you looking? Every large grocery store will have it for sure.

anna said...

Thank you so much! I really admire how you respond to your commenters.

I am looking for the rice vinegar where all the other vinegars are located in my grocery store but maybe I'm missing it or maybe they don't stock it. I'll ask the sales clerk next time.

Thanks again for your help. I really mean that. I'm not a good cook. My kids turn up their noses when I place our meals on the table, my cooking is that bad! But they don't realize how difficult it is for me. I panic in the kitchen. I don't know what foods go well with what or what spices to use. I can't cook without a recipe. I get depressed about that often but hopefully with your blog I will improve. I am trying my best, so I hope I get credit for that at least! :) Take care.

Chef John said...


First of all, I can tell just from your comment that you are a great Mom and wife, and your family is very lucky to have you. You can tell them I said so, too!

Relax and have fun in the kitchen. Don't worry what goes with what. People like me have been pairing foods for thousands of years, so just copy what we do.

Find my simpler recipes like stews, chilies, and soups. These will come out every time. All kids like pizza and mac and cheese, and my versions are pretty easy.

The more you cook the easier it gets. Really. Then you can start to experiment with your own creations.

I think THE most important thing a person can do for their kids future health and happiness is to teach them an appreciation for good home cooking!

Best of luck and happy cooking!

Anna said...

Hi there! I'm not sure how I should address you. :) Do you prefer John or Chef John?

Thank you for your kind words, you made me smile; just what I needed!

I agree with you about teaching our kids the importance of eating healthy, home cooked foods. I don't give junk food nor do I use processed/prepackaged food. My kids don't understand the importance of all that just yet but as they grow up they will be able to recognize the difference. My cooking may not taste so great but at least it's homemade and healthy! I'm sure your site will help me to improve the taste factor of my cooking in due time. :) Thanks again.

Suzanne said...

Awesome! Simple, easy and perfect. I love dishes like this!

Anonymous said...

I made this sauce the other day but used a little bit of orange juice instead of water..either way it is awsome..thanks Chef John.

Marianne Bush said...

I'm a new fan to your site and sure wish I had met you earlier. Coming from a Scandinavian country (Denmark) but married to a San Francisco native figuring out what to serve can sometimes be a challenge. Especially when the guy insists on not having "fish on a plate" (which, by the way, i love - but as he's catholic he probably has bad memories). Anyway, this recipe fit the bill for all concerned for which I thank you. I'm going to stick with you from now on for great recipes.

Michael Wardell said...

Hi Chef John:
Great recipe! But I'd like you to also know that I tried this with braised or grilled pork. The braised portion was perfect for my pallet. I also smoked some thicker pork cutlets and used this as the 'BBQ' sauce, with great success.
Always the Fan!
Warm regards,
Chef Michael 'Oscar'
Oscars Ribs, Nixa, Mo.

John L. said...

I made this today and it was absolutely delicious. My mom also agrees, I knew by the clean plate she left. Thank you so much for such a great recipe.

sstew said...

Hi Chef John,

Thanks so much for the videos. I just made this sauce and it is a very hot sauce. Easy to make, and fun to make. My food wish is more sauces.

Thank You.


Eric Eligator said...

Love this recipe. I added a little soy sauce just to give it that Clifton Springs touch.

Randa Sb said...

Chef John, thank you for this amazing quick sauce. If I want to use freshly thinly sliced tomatoes instead of the water. At which stage would you add the tomatoes? would you rather cook it first, then add the rest of the ingredients? Same question for if I want to add some chopped parsley. Would you add it add the end? Thanks :)

Chef John said...

i'd do tom first and parsley at end!