Japanese Salted Salmon, Shiozake 塩鮭

salmon

Salted Salmon, called Shiozake or Shiojake (塩鮭) Japanese, is one of my favorite ways to prepare Salmon and the most common way you see Salmon sold in supermarkets around Japan.  Shiozake can be found in a traditional Japanese breakfast with rice and miso soup, a hearty bento box lunch or a decadent filling for Onigiri, Japanese Rice Balls (my step by step Onigiri recipe here).

When I was growing up in Tokyo I remember my Mom wasn’t very fond of the salted salmon sold at the local supermarket.  She found it a little too salty for her taste so she would always make her own Shiozake.  I would always see her slicing and salting the Salmon after bringing it home from the local fish market.  I loved hanging out in the kitchen with my Mom and watching her cook.  I learned so much from her.

We are very lucky to have gorgeous wild Alaskan King Salmon in Seattle and it is perfect for making Shiozake.  I just made Shiozake last week for Onigiri with a gorgeous piece of fresh Copper River Salmon.  I cannot even begin to describe how good those Onigiri tasted.  If you ever have a chance to get Copper River Salmon when it is season please do.

Most recipes will tell you to salt the salmon for at least twenty four hours, or more, but if you’re short on time I find even a half day is fine.  Some days I forget or decide at the last minute to make Shiozake so I’ll just salt it for a few hours.  Please start with fresh, wild Salmon if you can find it, and good quality sea salt.

Ingredients:

1 pound wild King Salmon fillet with the skin on

1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt (I like Maldon)

Directions: 

Dry the surface of the salmon with paper towels then salt both sides with the sea salt.  Make sure both sides of the fish are evenly coated.

Wrap the salmon loosely in two to three layers of paper towels then place on a strainer.  Place the strainer in a bowl or on a plate to catch any water that will be released from the fish.  I leave mine right on my Japanese bamboo strainer and place it on top of a plate.  Place the wrapped salmon in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours and up to 24 hours.  I do not like leaving it for more than 24 hours, it gets a little too salty for my taste.

Carefully unwrap the fish from the paper towels.  The fish will be firmer and darker in color.  You can now cut into individual serving sized pieces if you prefer or leave it whole.

Turn on broiler and place the rack in the center of the oven.  Place the salmon (skin side down if left whole) on a piece of aluminum foil (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or lightly oiled) lined baking sheet.  Broil fish until the edges start turning golden and skin starts to bubble, about 5-7 minutes.  Turn down the oven to 400 degrees and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes.  Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Serve the salmon immediately or let cool if using for onigiri or bento.

If you’re not cooking the Salmon right away you can freeze it.  Wrap the salmon in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.  It will keep for up to two months.

Japanese Salted Salmon Shiozake

5.0 from 3 reviews
Japanese Salted Salmon, Shiozake 塩鮭
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound wild King Salmon fillet with the skin on
  • 1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt (I like Maldon)
Instructions
  1. Dry the surface of the salmon with paper towels then salt both sides with the sea salt. Make sure both sides of the fish are evenly coated.
  2. Wrap the salmon loosely in two to three layers of paper towels then place on a strainer. Place the strainer in a bowl or on a plate to catch any water that will be released from the fish. I leave mine right on my Japanese bamboo strainer and place it on top of a plate. Place the wrapped salmon in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours and up to 24 hours. I do not like leaving it for more than 24 hours, it gets a little too salty for my taste.
  3. Carefully unwrap the fish from the paper towels. The fish will be firmer and darker in color. You can now cut into individual serving sized pieces if you prefer or leave it whole.
  4. Turn on broiler and place the rack in the center of the oven. Place the salmon (skin side down if left whole) on a piece of aluminum foil (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or lightly oiled) lined baking sheet. Broil fish until the edges start turning golden and skin starts to bubble, about 5-7 minutes. Turn down the oven to 400 degrees and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve the salmon immediately or let cool if using for onigiri or bento.
  5. If you're not cooking the Salmon right away you can freeze it. Wrap the salmon in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. It will keep for up to two months.

 

 

Comments

  1. What a cool idea. We have many similar techniques here in Greece (especially in the islands) to prepare fish with salt. Arigato for sharing this Japanese version!

    • Shirley says:

      You’re welcome! Thank you for sharing the tip about Greece. I didn’t know that. It’s so interesting hearing about similar cooking techniques in different countries.

  2. Thank you for posting this. Recently I had started thinking that I didn’t really like cooked salmon anymore. Then why did I love it so much as a kid? My mom is Japanese, and I remember eating salty salmon with rice (I know exactly how good those onigiri taste), so this post was exactly what I was looking for. I made some type of ochazuke this morning, and it didn’t taste anywhere near as good as my mom’s. That’s what got me thinking about the salted salmon. I’m going to go buy some salmon today!

  3. I cure with kosher salt and sugar, usually equal quantities, some sake, chopped dill and crushed juniper berry.
    Get fish shop to pin bone and remove skin. Even though we normally cook with skin, not for this dish.
    So, wash salmon, or any other fish, pat dry with paper towel. Chop dill and cover fish with dill, then submerge in salt/sugar and sprinkle a handful of juniper berries. Pour one or two tablespoons of sake or gin, any clear wine or spirit really along the length of the pan. Do not overdo the alcohol. Cover in ceramic dish with glad wrap and put weights on the bowl of fish. Leave it 24 hours, if fish was very thick to start, you may need to turn, and again in another 24 hours. You will know when it is ready, it will be sticky to touch and golden coloured, I slice down, not across, it gives flavourful dense fish. Wash off the marinating salt/sugar, wash it all off under the tap, but OK to leave some dill. Last thing, enjoy!

    • Thank you for writing out your method. I know how to cure salmon but this is a totally different recipe from Japanese Shiozake, as the name translates to Salted Salmon. In Japan salmon is cured with just sea salt as written in my recipe. This is my favorite way to cure salmon.

  4. Georgette Lebel says:

    My mother-in-law taught me how to make Katsudon and she added snow peas and carrot strips with the onions. They lived in Japan for 8 years and shared her recipies with me. I love to prepare this for company since most people have never heard of this dish.

  5. Very yummy and brings back memories of my dad making salt salmon. I let it sit about 6.5 hours. Next time I think I’ll try 8!

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