This easy miso salmon recipe will blow you away.

Miso salmon is a simple yet delicious Japanese dish that you can make easily at home. Below is a detailed explanation of how to cook it in two ways, bake in the oven and grill it on a grill pan.

The flavor of the grilled salmon is more intense, as the miso marinade caramelizes and glaze the salmon. Therefore it is ideal for serving with steamed rice and vegetables. The oven version is more subtle, and you can marinate it longer to get a stronger taste. Both are incredibly delicious. Let’s look at the details of this miso salmon recipe.

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Miso salmon recipe - grilled miso salmon on a bed of steamed rice
Grilled miso salmon

How to make miso salmon

I usually cook salmon with the easiest method, i.e., season the salmon with salt and pepper, pan-frying it with a non-stick pan.  This marinated version has a more intense flavor than the regular salt and pepper version, with only one small extra step required.

1. Prepare the miso marinade

Here are the steps:

  • Choose the cut of fish that you prefer.  I usually use salmon fillet if I plan to bake in the oven. However, the skin may fall off during grilling due to the marinade’s moisture and tend to stick to the pan.  Therefore, salmon steak is my choice when I prepare grilled miso salmon.
  • The miso marinade is suitable for other types of fish besides salmon. Codfish is my other favorite alternative cooked with this marinade. 
  • The marinade is made with a combination of miso, mirin, sake, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Please refer to the recipe for the quantity of these ingredients.  You may also add some ginger juice and sweeten it slightly with sugar. (Optional) 
  • The amount of these ingredients are not fixed, as you can vary the proportion based on your preference. You can choose any type of miso, and please refer to the short explanation of miso in the section below with a grey background.
  • To prepare, just mix all the ingredients, that is it!  The mixture is quite diluted, which is Ok to marinade the salmon if you plan to bake it. However, I prefer to place it in a small pan and bring it to a boil briefly to concentrate it for frying or grilling.  This step avoids the diluted marinade forming a pool of liquid in the pan, which makes it hard to develop the caramelized and slightly charred mark on the fish.

What is miso? 

Miso is made by fermenting soybeans and barley with a mold called koji (the scientific name is Aspergillus oryzae).  Over time, the enzymes in the koji work with the microorganisms in the environment to break down the beans into amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars.  The fermenting process creates the unique umami of miso, which is deeply savory, with a salty-sweet richness.

The color, aroma, and flavor of different miso types vary due to different kinds of beans, fermentation time, and soybeans’ proportion to koji.

Miso can be loosely grouped into three styles. White miso is the mildest and is also called sweet miso prepared with a relatively short fermentation time.  Red miso is stronger, made with longer fermentation time, more salt, and more soybeans relative to koji. Yellow miso has fallen in the middle.

2. Marinate the miso salmon 

  • Place the miso marinade in a glass container or a plate.
  • Add the salmon and rub it with the marinade all over. You can make a few shallow slits on the thickest part of the salmon fillet to enable the marinade to reach the fillet’s inner part. 
  • Marinate the salmon for at least one hour. There is no arm to marinate it longer.
  • Remove the excess marinade before grill or oven bake the salmon.  Miso will turn color quite fast when heated, and it can be hard to control the baking time to avoid over burning if there is too much miso marinate.

3. Two way to cook- baked and grilled miso salmon

Baking is the more popular cooking method than grilling for the miso salmon recipe, but I will explain both ways for you to decide.

Baked miso salmon

  • Line the baking pan with aluminum foil or nonstick baking paper. Salmon can be pretty sticky after baking, and the skin may stick onto the paper quickly and hard to remove after baking without tearing the skin. Therefore, it is useful to brush a layer of oil on the paper before placing the salmon in the pan to avoid it from happening. 
  • Place the salmon fillet skin side down with at least one inch of space in between. 
  • Preheat the oven to at least 230°C/445°F. (better up to 250°C/480°F).
  • If you have a large oven, switch on the top heating element and place the salmon on the top rack near to the element.  Broil the salmon for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges of the salmon become slightly charred. The exact duration depends on the thickness of the fillet. As a general rule, bake for five minutes for every half-inch thickness of salmon measured at the thickest part. 
  • An alternative is to switch on the top and bottom heating element and bake the salmon by putting them in the middle rack.  Switching on both elements is especially useful for the less powerful oven to cook the salmon quickly. The goal is to complete the cooking process within 12 minutes so that the internal of the salmon is not overcooked. (You want it to be slightly pinkish, right?). 
Baked miso salmon recipe, garnish with sesame seeds and scallion
Baked miso salmon

Grilled miso salmon

My preferred method is to grill the salmon steak with miso marinade. (misoyaki salmon)

  • Heat some oil in a pan. I use a non-stick grill pan, so there is only a tiny amount of oil required.  You need slightly more oil when using a regular pan to pan-fry to avoid the fish from sticking while pan-frying.
  • Pan-fry or grill (depending you use a grill pan or flat pan) the salmon over medium heat. The salmon steak is quite soft, so please be careful when moving it around. I suggest shifting the direction once to create the criss-cross grill marks and flip only once to prevent them from breaking.  

To serve

Place the salmon on the serving plate over a bed of rice. Sprinkle with some white and black sesame and some scallion to garnish.

Miso salmon is best to serve with vegetables since it is savory.  My favorite choice is snow peas, bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, or a mixed salad.  It is also good to eat with steamed rice.

Other dishes related to the miso salmon recipe

If you like this miso salmon recipe, you will most likely also interested in the following related dishes on my blog:

Miso soup is prepared with a soup stock (Dashi) and miso paste. This article explains how to prepare the basic miso soup with wakame, tofu, and scallion.

Tempura is a typical Japanese snack usually prepared with shrimp and vegetables. This article explains how to prepare tempura, focused on preparing a good tempura batter that tastes clean, fresh, and light.

Like fried rice? This Japanese fried rice with garlic is what you are looking for when you want an easy and tasty meal. Simple ingredients, quick and easy cooking technique, and is delicious upon delicious. 

Yield: 2 servings

Miso salmon recipe

miso salmon recipe thumbnail

This recipe shows you how to grill and bake the salmon. Both are incredibly delicious and easy to follow.  The fish is marinated with the miso marinate that is savory and sweet. Best Japanese salmon recipe ever.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

Oven-baked

  1. Mix all the ingredients except the fish in a small bowl,
  2. Rub the marinade all over the fish. Keep in the refrigerator to marinate for one hour or longer.
  3. Remove the excess marinade.
  4. Line the baking pan with nonstick baking paper. Brush a layer of oil on it.
  5. Place the salmon fillet skin side down with at least one inch of space in between. 
  6. Preheat the oven to at least 230°C/445°F. (better up to 250°C/480°F).
  7. Broil the salmon for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges of the salmon become slightly charred.

Grill 

  1. Add all the ingredients except the fish in a small pan. Heat it over low heat for a minute until the sauce thickens. Remove and let it coll.
  2. Rub the marinade all over the fish. Keep in the refrigerator to marinate for one hour or longer.
  3. Remove the excess marinade.
  4. Heat some oil in a grill pan. Grill the salmon over medium heat. 
  5. Shifting the direction once to create the criss-cross grill marks and flip only once to prevent them from breaking.  

To serve

  1. Place the salmon on the serving plate over a bed of rice. 
  2. Sprinkle with some white and black sesame and some scallion to garnish.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 818Total Fat: 50gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 250mgSodium: 489mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 80g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 4/7/2021

    3 replies to "Miso salmon recipe"

    • KP Kwan

      Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am pleased to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.

    • Robert Taylor

      I became a fan of oriental cooking while serving in the military. I spent time in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Formosa (now known as Taiwan), and VietNam. While much of the food had similar looks the taste was very different. I truly enjoy some of your work-around methods and usage of different spices. I find that small towns do not have places where they can be purchased so, I keep the recipe and order in and then try it out. As a resident of the Northwest (Washington state) Salmon is easy to find but this recipe will be delayed until I can get the rest of it. Thanks for sharing these with us.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Robert,
        Take your time as cooking is nothing urgent. I hope you can get those ingredients during your next trip to a bigger town.
        KP Kwan

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