Gochujang salmon is a delicious Korean-inspired salmon dish that is easy to make and packed with flavor. Gochujang is a savory and slightly spicy Korean fermented red chili paste that adds a wonderful depth of flavor and beautiful color to salmon fillets or steaks. Paired with garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey or maple syrup, and rice wine vinegar, gochujang makes a quick no-cook glaze or marinade for salmon.
This flavorful glazed salmon comes together in just 20 minutes from start to finish, making it an ideal busy weeknight dinner. It's also fancy enough to serve at a dinner party. Gochujang salmon can be made by broiling, baking, or air frying the salmon fillets after coating them with the gochujang mixture.
Keep reading to learn what gochujang is, how to make gochujang salmon including marinade and cooking instructions, expert tips for perfect salmon every time, and delicious ideas for side dishes to serve with this easy Korean-style salmon.
Gochujang is a thick, pungent fermented condiment that is a staple ingredient in Korean cuisine. It provides dishes with a unique depth of flavor that is simultaneously spicy, sweet, and savory.
This chili paste is made from chili peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt that is aged in traditional onggi pots for months to allow the flavors to develop. The fermentation process gives gochujang its distinctive umami taste.
There are thousands of recipes for gochujang, but the basic ingredients are quite consistent. The variations come into play with the types of peppers, amounts of rice and soybeans, and fermentation time.
When shopping for gochujang, you'll find it in the international aisle at well-stocked grocery stores or at Asian specialty markets. Look for gochujang paste, not gochujang sauce or gochujang glaze, for making the salmon marinade. The paste allows you to control the texture and flavor yourself.
As this condiment has grown in mainstream popularity outside of Korea, you can now find several high-quality pre-made brands of gochujang paste from grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.
Flavorful Gochujang Marinade for Salmon
A quick gochujang marinade or glaze adds so much flavor to fresh salmon fillets. You only need 5 main ingredients to make it:
- Gochujang paste - for savory umami flavor and subtle heat
- Garlic - balances the sweetness and adds aromatic flavor
- Low sodium soy sauce - provides saltiness
- Honey or maple syrup - adds sweetness to balance the spice
- Rice wine vinegar - brightens with acidity to cut the richness of salmon
For extra flavor, you can also add:
- Ginger - gives it a subtle kick and balances fishy flavors
- Toasted sesame oil - deep nutty flavor
- Scallions - fresh, grassy flavor
- Sesame seeds - textural contrast and nuttiness
Whisk together the gochujang marinade ingredients until smooth. For best results, let the salmon marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. But you can also just brush it on the salmon right before cooking if you're in a hurry.
How to Cook Gochujang Salmon Perfectly
There are a few easy methods for cooking salmon coated with the gochujang marinade.
Broiled Gochujang Salmon
This is the easiest and quickest cooking method, with broiled salmon ready in just 10 minutes.
First, position an oven rack 6 inches from the heating element and preheat the broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place salmon fillets skin side down on the baking sheet.
Brush the salmon all over with prepared gochujang marinade. Broil for 5-7 minutes until the salmon starts to look opaque. Brush again with marinade and broil for 1-2 minutes more until cooked through.
Let the gochujang salmon rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Baked Gochujang Salmon
For gently cooked salmon, you can also bake it in the oven after marinating.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place marinated salmon fillets in a lightly greased or foil-lined baking dish.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, until the salmon is cooked through with an opaque center. Aim for 4-6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness.
Test for doneness by inserting a fork to check that salmon flakes easily and is opaque throughout.
Air Fryer Gochujang Salmon
Cooking salmon in an air fryer results in quick, hands-off cooking with crisp edges contrasting the tender interior.
Preheat the air fryer to 380°F. Place marinated salmon fillets in an air fryer basket in a single layer, skin side down if using skin-on fillets.
Air fry for 10-12 minutes, checking frequently, until salmon is cooked through. Use an instant-read thermometer to check for 145°F.
Serving Suggestions for Gochujang Salmon
A big perk of whipping up quick gochujang salmon for dinner is that it pairs well with so many simple sides.
Here are some easy options:
- Steam or roast vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, or green beans
- Toss together a fresh salad with greens, tomatoes, avocado
- Make rice or quinoa
- Roast potatoes or sweet potatoes
- Saute garlic spinach, kale, or bok choy
For a more substantial meal, serve the gochujang salmon over rice and vegetables all together in a bowl. Garnish with sesame seeds and extra sliced scallions.
Leftover cooked salmon is fantastic for salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, and tacos too.
Expert Tips for Perfect Gochujang Salmon Every Time
Follow these tips from experienced home cooks and chefs for making flawless gochujang salmon:
- Pat salmon dry before coating it with marinade so it sticks properly.
- If using skin-on fillets, place skin-side down on the pan so the skin gets extra crispy.
- Brush off any excess marinade before cooking so it doesn't burn.
- Use a thermometer to check for doneness - salmon should reach 145°F.
- Watch closely if broiling so the honey in the glaze doesn't burn.
- Allow thicker fillets to rest for 5 minutes before serving for juicier salmon.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
With these simple tricks, you'll have restaurant-quality gochujang salmon coming off your own skillet or sheet pan any night of the week. This versatile recipe works for entertaining but comes together quickly enough for busy weeknight meals too.
Gochujang salmon checks all the boxes for an easy yet special weeknight meal. With just 5-10 minutes of prep time, you can marinate salmon fillets in a sweet-spicy Korean-inspired blend of seasonings. Then it takes just 10-15 minutes to cook the salmon to tender, flaky perfection.
This unique and tasty fish dinner will definitely impress your family or dinner guests. Now that you know how simple it is to make your own gochujang salmon, you can skip the takeout and enjoy this satisfying meal any night of the week. This versatile recipe also keeps well, so you can look forward to delicious leftover salmon.
How long does the gochujang marinade need to sit before cooking the salmon?
For the strongest flavor, it's best to marinate the salmon for 30 minutes to overnight before cooking. But if you're pressed for time, you can brush the gochujang mixture onto the salmon right before popping it under the broiler or into the oven. Even just 10-15 minutes of marinating time will allow the flavors to penetrate.
Can I use frozen salmon fillets for this recipe?
Yes, you can absolutely use frozen salmon fillets for gochujang salmon! Just thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or place the vacuum-sealed packages in a bowl of cold water for quicker thawing. Pat the thawed fillets dry before marinating. Cook as you would fresh salmon.
What sides go well with gochujang salmon?
Some delicious sides to consider serving with your gochujang glazed salmon are:
- Rice or quinoa to soak up the sweet and spicy glaze
- A green salad with a bright vinaigrette to balance the rich fish
- Roasted or steamed broccoli, asparagus, green beans
- Sauteed spinach or bok choy
- Roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes
Is gochujang salmon spicy? How can I reduce the heat?
Gochujang does add a pleasant mild spice to the salmon, but it shouldn't be overwhelmingly hot. To tame the heat a bit, use less gochujang in the marinade or look for a milder variety marked "mild" on the label. Balancing the gochujang with plenty of honey, garlic, and acidity from rice vinegar also helps temper the spice.
Can I make gochujang salmon gluten-free?
Yes, you can easily adapt this recipe to be gluten-free:
- Use a gluten-free brand of gochujang
- Substitute tamari for the soy sauce
- Skip soy sauce altogether and use more honey for saltiness
With a couple of simple swaps, anyone who eats a gluten-free diet can enjoy this flavorful salmon.
- 1/4 cup gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 lb salmon fillets
- In a small bowl, whisk together gochujang, garlic, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil until smooth.
- Place salmon fillets in a baking dish and coat with marinade. Let sit 10-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake salmon for 10-15 minutes until cooked through.
- Serve with rice and vegetables. Enjoy!
- For spicier salmon, use more gochujang. For milder, use less.
- Let marinate up to overnight for more flavor.
- Broil for 5-7 minutes or air fry at 380°F for 10-12 minutes.