Korean BBQ Salmon


korean bbq salmon 02

After more than a year of saving, Lori and I finally went on our big trip to Scandinavia. We were dormant and passive about it for so long that the whole thing seemed unreal, a work-life fantasy fossilized in amber. You know how it is when routine has you so locked in as to convince you that it will never diminish. It’s both horrible and just fine.

Then it happened. We jetted away on a red-eye to Reykjavik, dropped into Iceland on a brand new day, sleepless and literally hurting for coffee. For the next two weeks, we defied every habit our routine had hammered into us. We stayed out until the sun came up (except that it never went down, but transformed into twilight and twilight transformed into morning). We walked and walked and walked until our legs stewed. We spoke in Norwegian, Lori with finesse and me with a difficult-to-place Scottish-ish accent. We ate mammals previously forbidden and seafood previously rotten. Most remarkably, we broke the routine, came out guns smoking. Take that, work-life.

It’s ironic, then, after returning from Scandinavia, that my first post is Korean BBQ salmon. I wish I could tell you how inspired I was by Scandinavian takes on world cuisine (I was, once) or how Stockholm’s immigrant community lured me away from meatballs and anchovies (it did, a couple times). I wish I could call this a mash-up of traditional Norwegian craft mixed with West Coast style (I guess I could, but I could say something better on this about the IPAs).

Nah, this is just comfort food. Sticky, napkin-soaking, spicy, charred comfort food. And after traveling for weeks and not being able to cook a meal with my fiance, this was all I wanted on a hot and breezy late-summer day back in Seattle. Yeah, I might be taking a poke at fish balls or fish cakes or cardamom infusions soon (stay tuned for waffles!), but, right now, all I want is to enjoy being back in the routine we worked so hard to briefly dismantle.


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Marinate the Fish

  • 1 lb. wild salmon (I used Sockeye)
  • 100 g. Walla Walla sweet onion or yellow onion, peeled and chopped (1/4 big onion, 1/2 small)
  • 20 g. garlic, peeled (3-4 cloves)
  • 5 g. ginger, chopped (2 tsp.)
  • 3 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean chile paste, available at Asian markets)
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil (or another neutral, high-heat oil)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. white miso
  • 1/2 cup water

In a food processor, blend all the ingredients together until pureed.

Cut the fish into portions, keeping skin on, and drop in a ziplock bag along with about a one-third of the marinade. Rub the pieces to evenly coat them. Put in the fridge for two hours or up to overnight. Reserve the rest of the marinade.

Get Grilling

Before you’re ready to cook, put the reserved marinade into a saucepan. Cook it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, when it’s nice and sticky and ready to be used for glazing.

Over a (preferably) charcoal grill, on medium-high to high heat, grill the salmon, skin side up, for a minute or two, until charred. Flip, rub generously with glaze and cook a minute to two minutes more, depending on thickness of fish and heat of coals. By generous, I mean, make sure there is no glaze left when you’re done brushing. Pull when fish is just flaky.

Garnish with bias-chopped green onions and serve with, at least, white rice and kimchi.

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Photos by Lori Paulson

One thought on “Korean BBQ Salmon

  1. Love the new look and so many great new recipes!
    Glad to hear you got some time off. What an adventure!
    “Take that work-life” is my new motto.

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