Grilled and salted salmon (shiozake) is a popular way to eat salmon in Japan. In Japanese grocers you can even buy the fish in pre-cut and pre-salted packets. All you need to do is take it out and grill it, making it a great go-to for a healthy breakfast, midday, or evening protein portion of a meal.
Making your own shiozake is not difficult to do, but does take a little bit of prep time, especially if you are buying you salmon by the fillet and need to cut it down to the appropriate size. However once you have a set of this marinating, you can store it in the freezer and defrost it the day before (or morning of when) you want to use it.
In the US, it’s more common to buy salmon by the fillet (usually half a fish cut lengthwise against the bones) than by individually cut portions as served in Japan. Sometimes store-bought salmon will have the skin still on, but oftentimes it will not. Salmon skin is fatty and having it present will help keep the fish oily and crisp, but if it’s not, it’s no big deal. However, more often than not if a fish has its skin still attached, then the fish will also still have its scales that need to be removed, and that’s where things get messy.
So a lot of the prep work for this dish involves descaling and portioning the salmon fillet into individual pieces. But once you have that done, you just need to marinate it and put it in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready!
Here’s my method to make shiozake:
Grilled Salted Salmon (Shiozake)
- 1 cooking pan preferrably nonstick
- 4 1-in width piece of salmon cut perpendicular to the fillet
- 1 TBSP rice vinegar
- 3 TBSP sake
- 1/2-1 tsp salt
- water as needed
Prep the Salmon
- Cut and clean the salmon into 1 inch width strips and place into a tight glass container. You want to have minimal space between the fillets so that the fish can get fully covered by the salt marinade. Alternatively, you can use airtight plastic bags.
- Mix rice vinegar, salt, and sake into a bowl in order to dissolve the salt
- pour mixture into glass container over the sake.
- Top off with water as necessary.
- Store in the fridge overnight (or for 1 hr min) or store in the freezer and remove to defrost when ready.
Grill the Salmon
- Take out the salmon pieces, 1 per person. Pat dry with paper towel
- In a medium heat pan, add a drizzle of oil, then place salmon skin-side down first (if the salmon has skin. If it doesn't than any side is fine) and let grill for 2 minutes
- Flip to each size and let grill for 1-2 minutes until there's no more pink. In total, the salmon pieces should cook 8-10 minutes in the pan
- Serve with rice and a vegetable side dish.
Want to see the recipes for the complete meal set?
- Simmered Daikon nimono
- Hijiki seaweed
- Instant Pot Congee with Umeboshi