Soy-Brown Butter Salmon

by Kim Sunée • January 25, 2021

Yield: 4 to 6 • Total Time: 15 min

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photo by Kim Sunée

When it comes to cooking with pristine ingredients, such as fresh wild seafood, the “less is more” approach often works best. Recently, I was lucky enough to test recipes with some gorgeous fillets of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon as part of the launch of Bristol Bay’s new salmon cooking guide. For expert tips on cooking salmon, this is your comprehensive guide with recipes and videos. 

One of my favorite ways to cook up a quick and easy meal is this roasted salmon with soy and nutty brown butter. Salmon, and sockeye (aka reds) in particular, can stand up to bolder flavors and sauces with some bite and sass. And because reds are a bit leaner, including some well-browned butter helps to balance out the bite of ginger and garlic; roasting at high temperature transforms the butter into a dark, nutty sizzle. Be sure to use unsalted butter, since there’s soy sauce in the marinade. If you have some time, marinate up to an hour before cooking. Any extra pan drippings are delicious with steamed rice and vegetables or soaked up with good bread. Serve with cabbage or lettuce leaves and lime wedges. Try leftovers in omelets, dips, salads, savory seafood cakes, and more. 


  • 1 (1.5-to-2-pound fillet) wild salmon (such as sockeye), skin-on is fine
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot sauce/paste such as harissa, chili crunch, Sriracha
  • Juice of 1 whole fresh lime or lemon, plus more slices for serving
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into about 10 pieces
  • For serving, cabbage or lettuce leaves; fresh herbs; lemon or lime wedges; steamed rice


  1. Heat oven to 500° F. Remove and discard any pin bones from salmon fillet. Pat salmon dry.  Place salmon, skin-side-down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Score salmon, using the tip of a sharp knife, in a criss-cross pattern. 

  2. Combine in a medium bowl the tamari, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, sesame oil, hot sauce of choice, and fresh-squeezed citrus juice; whisk to combine. Pour mixture over salmon fillet and place in fridge, uncovered, 10 minutes. NOTE: If marinating before cooking: Place salmon in a shallow baking dish or in a large heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag; add ginger-soy mixture and turn fillet once or twice to coat. Store, covered, or sealed in a bag, in refrigerator up to one hour. When ready to cook, remove salmon from marinade, wiping off any excess marinade with hands or a paper towel. Place fillet on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. 

  3. Top fillet evenly with butter cubes and place pan on top rack in oven; cook for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on size of fillet and until butter is browned and sizzling. If you want a nice char, cook for 5 minutes at 500° F and then turn broiler to high and broil for a few minutes until browned and bubbling. Serve warm with lettuce or cabbage leaves, fresh herbs, steamed rice, and lime wedges.

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