Korean Salmon wrapped in crispy rice paper for a midweek supper or weekend get-together. Throw out the takeaway menus and make this easy, delicious “fakeaway”.
Are you tired of cooking salmon in the same way every week? Today I am sharing with you a BRILLIANT and EASY way to enjoy our favourite pink piscis.
And vegetarians, you can do this with tofu or tempeh. So don’t think I’ve left you out. As if!
This Crispy Korean Salmon recipe is inspired by a vid on ways to use rice paper by Alex, aka “the French cooking guy”. I rarely look at cooking videos, but I can get sucked in by Alex’s irreverent and creative way with food. It’s hard for me to concentrate on actual work when I get a YouTube alert puffing this floppy-haired, science-minded Frenchman. He’s just so damn watchable. Do you know about him? Of course you do.
Alex’s suggestion of taking the good but ubiquitous summer roll idea (here’s my Food To Glow summer rolls with peanut-tamarind dip, for the record) and using salmon + steamer got me thinking. What if instead of layering up some (watery) veg on the salmon and steaming it, I slathered the salmon in my favourite spicy-sweet Korean sauce and pan-seared then baked it? How would that go down?In a word, spectacular. Not tooting my own horn, but this rice paper-wrapped Korean salmon is fricking awesome. Crispy, sesame-flecked outside, and a meltingly-soft, firecracker-meets-marshmallow inside. Oooft, as the youngsters used to say. The heat of the gochujang paste (bought or homemade), and a few other bits, marries so well with quality salmon. And this method of cooking seals the deal.
Friend, I almost cried it’s so good. In fact Andrew did have a tear in his eye. I swear. But that’s not unusual for him. We first ate it cold – the blogger and his/her family’s life – with (cold) wilted pak choi, (cold) sauteed mushrooms done in yuzu juice and miso, and some (cold) plain roasted red pepper strips. I’ve since made it a couple more times and we ate it hot. Woo hoo! It was delish in its tepid, post-photography state. But trust me, eat it hot and crispy, the juices bursting forth warm and fragrant.
Do you fancy making this Korean – and Alex – inspired fish dish for dinner? Read on.
How to make Korean Salmon in Rice Paper
1. First of all you make the paste to flavour the salmon – or tofu. Grate turmeric root, ginger and garlic into a small bowl, and then add the base paste of gochujang. I make my own gochujang, but just buy it if you wish.
Other bits to add are toasted sesame oil (not essential but I love it here for balance), mirin or sherry (or lime juice in a pinch, although it isn’t quite the same thing of course) and black pepper. The latter helps us to absorb the curcumin in the turmeric as well as being there for taste and a different kind of heat. Then just mix it up. While you are doing this, preheat your oven (see recipe card below).
2. Then you take a sheet of rice paper wrapper and dampen it to make it flexible. Just 30 seconds or so in hot water will do. Or, Alex puts his inside a folded damp tea towel.
One of the wonderful things about these wrappers is that they keep so well. They really don’t go off. Before heading to the store for a packet, first check in your cupboards for an abandoned, half-used pack. If you find one, you are good to go.
3. Place the damp and delicate rice paper wrapper on a damp tea towel and slick it with a little of the spicy mix. Then coat the salmon in the mix and lay on the rice paper.
4. Now, you carefully wrap the salmon “burrito style”. First of all take the shortest ends and pull them over the salmon ends. Then take a long end and pull it over to cover the salmon. Now, either pull the last side over, or – my preference – roll the salmon “into ” the last end. It doesn’t have to be perfect of course. You just don’t want to tear the paper.
5. And you’re not done wrapping yet. Take another rice wrapper, dampen it and wrap. This will give you a more robust parcel that shouldn’t (!) burst in its journey from the frying pan, to oven, to plate. Then of course do the second filet as per the first. Put the wrapped salmon in the fridge for a few minutes while you heat oil in an oven-proof frying pan. I love my trusty Staub cast iron frypan (affiliate link)
6. Once the oil is hot – test by flicking a drop of water; if it sizzles, it’s ready – lay in the salmon. Cook for a two minutes on each side, then sprinkle on some sesame seeds before placing in the hot oven
7. Bake the salmon for five minutes until well-crisped.
That’s pretty much it! The salmon is quite filling and rich so I think it pairs well with steamed bitter greens, and perhaps some roasted peppers and mushrooms (shown). You may want to add some rice to the menu, in which case can I recommend baking it per this recipe for Lime and Turmeric Salmon with Baked Lime Leaf Rice ? Or replacing the lime leaves in this favourite Food To Glow recipe with gratings of turmeric. Do you see a theme emerging?
The nutrition bit
All fish is good for us, but especially the oily kind. High in easily-digestible protein and of course omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is also a great source of essential vitamin D. As I live in Scotland, and 90% or so of our vitamin D is made through exposure to sunlight, I NEED my fish. I’ve learned to like mackerel and sardines just so I can get those Ds – and Omega-3s.
Those of you in less cloudy climes can hopefully rely on the sun to do its magic. A 2009 study demonstrated that vegans and vegetarians, for whom dietary sources of D are very limited, were no different to those, like me, who are omnivorous. But even sunlight doesn’t guarantee we are getting enough Vitamin D to prevent chronic diseases. Read this academic overview of “the sunshine vitamin” to find out if you need to get more, and the best ways to do so.
Those of you with a chronic illness, including those who have or have had cancer, it might be an idea to get your vitamin D levels tested through your local health provider. If it is on the low end, proper supplementation can sometimes alleviate drug-resistant symptoms, and perhaps even improve your health state overall. Here is a fascinating 2017 paper in the journal Aging and Disease that elucidates the many connections between low D uptake and disease state. Vitamin D is NOT just about bones.
Crispy Korean Salmon in Rice Paper
Salmon gets all crispy on the outside and super moist on the inside when wrapped in rice paper then seared and baked.
- 2 salmon filets about 130g each
- 1 rounded tbsp gochujang paste this is a sweetish Korean chilli paste
- 1 tbsp mirin or sherry
- 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced or finely grated
- 5 g gingerroot peeled and finely grated
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 5 g turmeric root peeled and finely grated OR 1/2 tsp ground
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 rice paper wrappers
- 2 tbsp olive oil or your preferred shallow frying oil
Lightly rinse and pat dry the salmon fillets and set aside. If your salmon still has the skin on, remove this if you like. It is, however, very nutritious so I keep it on. Preheat the oven to 200C fan/220C/425F.
Mix the gochujang paste, mirin or sherry, sesame oil, grated garlic, ginger, turmeric and black pepper in a small bowl.
Take one rice paper wrapper and dip it into hot water (see image) - about 30 seconds should do. Carefully place it onto a damp tea towel laid on your work surface. Slick a bit of the spicy mixture onto the centre of the rice paper wrapper; lay on one of the pieces of salmon. Daub on more of the mixture to coat. Now, fold the rice paper around the salmon like you are making a burrito - short sides pulled up, followed by one long end and then rolled up to make a neat cocoon of salmon. - images are above the recipe card.
Now dip another rice wrapper in hot water and swaddle it again, so that you have two layers of rice paper for one piece of salmon. Set aside on a cool plate.
Carry on with the remaining piece of fish. Put both wrapped salmon pieces in the refrigerator for about five minutes.
Heat the oil in an oven-proof frying pan (or regular one and switch the salmon to a baking tin in a minute). When a flick of water sizzles, lay on the fish, sizzling for 2 minutes on each side - thicker filets ones may need an extra minute. When you turn the fish do so with the greatest of care. I use a spatula to nudge the filet over and onto another spatula or wide spoon, and carefully ease it back into the hot pan.
Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and place the pan into the preheated oven for cook for five minutes.
Eat hot and crispy with a lime wedge and steamed greens - pak choi or choi sum for me!
This recipe works very well with firm tofu. Follow the same instructions.
RIPE FOR PINNING!