Some proteins require a fair amount of coaxing in order to make them tender and flavorful. Think oxtail, game and (yes!) even basic supermarket chicken breasts. Salmon, thankfully, isn't a member of this group. It shines in a pinch when poached or slow-roasted with just a little bit of salt and a little more olive oil.
But salmon truly shines with a little extra care in the form of a simple marinade. My go-to salmon marinade only requires three ingredients (four, if you count the oil eventually used to cook the fish), which makes it something I turn to on a near-weekly basis. Plus, it's multi-purpose — I use it on cubed chicken thighs, pork cutlets and even scallops.
Above all, I keep coming back to this marinade because it augments the flavor of the salmon so beautifully. Now, let's break down our trio of ingredients:
It's no great culinary secret that fatty fish, like salmon, does well with a hit of acid. Lemon is a classic way to go. In this marinade, you're going to use both the lemon zest and the juice — which breaks down raw meat and fish — for a one-two punch of flavor and tenderizing power.
Scallions tend to taste fresher and a little milder than some of their allium cousins like shallots or white onion, and they also offer a different dimension of flavor. The white stalk hits some sharp garlic notes, while the darker green leaves have a fresh, verdant flavor.
White Miso Paste
Miso, an age-old Japanese ingredient, is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a mold called kōji. The result is a mildly earthy, savory and salty paste that has way more nuance than your typical table salt.
Pulse the lemon, scallions, and white miso paste together with enough cooking oil of your choice to get a thick liquid. (I tend to veer towards good-quality olive oil.) For a more complex flavor, try tossing in a few garlic cloves, something spicy (some red pepper flakes or slices of fresh jalapeño) or even that handful of wilting herbs in your refrigerator. But the three starring ingredients truly stand on their own — and that's what makes it worth breaking out your blender on a weeknight.
You never want to marinate fish for too long because it can result in the flesh becoming mushy or mealy — 30 to 45 minutes is perfect. After that, I like to toss the salmon on a sheet pan with an extra drizzle of olive oil, alongside some broccoli florets, and roast everything for 12 to 15 minutes.
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Serve the marinated salmon and broccoli over steamed white rice — if you're really pressed for time, instant rice is a lifesaver! — and you have a healthy, flavorful meal ready to go. In the end, dinner is on the table in just over an hour.
Recipe: Citrus Miso Sheet Pan Salmon with Roasted Broccoli
- 1 pound of salmon fillets
- 3-4 full scallions, including white and green portions of the stem
- Zest of one lemon, plus 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of white miso paste
- 1/4 cup of olive oil, plus more for roasting
- 1 cup of broccoli florets
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a blender, combine the scallions, lemon zest, lemon juice, miso paste and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Blend until fully combined. If it's not totally smooth, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of water and blend again.
2. Pour the marinade into a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, followed by the salmon fillets. After ensuring the salmon is fully coated, cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or seal the bag); place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, though no longer than an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a sheet pan by drizzling with olive oil. Remove the salmon from the marinade and place it on the sheet pan. Line the remainder of the sheet pan with the broccoli florets. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the salmon is firm but still pink and the broccoli is tender.
5. Serve with white rice and enjoy.
More 2- and 3-ingredient recipes:
- A 2-ingredient marinade for never-dry chicken breasts
- These 2-ingredient brownies are one baking hack that doesn't sacrifice on flavor
- These 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies are hands-down the best cookies in the world