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Imagine a simple deconstructed sushi salmon roll, and you have this easy weeknight (or any night really) sesame salmon bowl. I am a huge fan of sesame anything, and I love making salmon once weekly for its beneficial anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. This easy recipe is gluten & dairy free and can be made paleo (grain free).
Wild salmon is best, or at least get sustainably farmed salmon (Whole Foods has it) which has a better fatty acid profile than farmed Atlantic. Salmon can get pricey. You could also try Steelhead or Arctic Char here; both are more cost effective options. You can order top quality salmon online from Vital Choice wild seafood.
All you need to do for this easy recipe is marinate the salmon with a flavorful sesame marinade, then quick cook it under the broiler to crisp up the skin and make a nice crust. Then layer your salmon over rice and top with thinly sliced cucumber (pickle it if you have the time; it really elevates the flavor and doesn’t take long), grated carrot, and thinly sliced radish (optional). You could even add sliced avocado if you have some on hand. Edamame works great here too! Then top with sesame seeds, cilantro, furikake, green onion, and/or Sriracha. Get as creative as you want here.
You can make the rice in your Instant Pot or rice cooker to speed this up even more, or use cauliflower rice for a grain free option. Black Rice ramen (I love Lotus Foods brand) would be great here. Or just use Jasmine or Basmati or even sushi rice, whatever appeals to you. You could even rice broccoli (like you would cauliflower) if that’s what you have on hand. To save even more time, use Trader Joe’s rice cauliflower stir fry (find in the frozen section).
How to Make Sesame Salmon Rice Bowls
For this recipe, you’ll need 3/4 to 1 pound of salmon, rice or rice alternative, tamari or shoyu, chili-garlic sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, grated ginger, garlic powder., touch of honey You’ll also need veggies to top your rice bowl: I typically use carrot and cucumber, but you could do radish in addition to or instead of carrot. You can also use an Instant Pot or rice cooker to cook the rice. You don’t really need any fancy equipment here! This recipe can be easily doubled to feed 4 or 5 people.
Step One: Prepare & marinate the salmon.
Start by rinsing the salmon filet and patting it dry with a paper towel. Then, cut the salmon into one inch cubes. 3/4 to one pound will work.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together the tamari, chili-garlic sauce (you could also use Sriracha), grated ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and garlic powder. Add a touch of honey to round out the acidity. Add salmon cubes and toss to coat; marinate at room temp for 30-45 minutes. I usually toss it a couple more times while marinating.
Step Two: Make Pickled Cukes
Use a hot house (usually long and skinny and wrapped in plastic at the store) or Persian cucumber if you can, but any cuke’ll do. Slice thinly and toss with a little sesame oil and seasoned rice vinegar (may also need a few cranks of salt). Put in the fridge and toss occasionally.
Step Three: Make rice
While salmon & pickles marinate, make your rice. Rinse your rice in a strainer under cold water until water runs clear. I used the Instant Pot for this recipe, 1:1 Jasmine rice to water which made nice sushi-like sticky rice. I set it for 5 minutes and let the pressure release manually, and it came out perfect.
Grate carrots or slice radishes thinly at this stage also.
Step Four: After at least 30 minutes, it’s time to cook your salmon. Heat broiler on high with a rack in the upper third of oven. Place salmon on foil-covered baking sheet, skin side up. Broil for 8-10 minutes until skin is crispy and salmon is lightly browned.
Step Five: Assemble your bowls. To serve, scoop an even amount of rice between bowls. Divide salmon, drained pickled cucumbers (fan them out), grated carrots, and optional radish and avocado among bowls. You can spoon a little cucumber pickling liquid over if you want. Sometimes I also drizzle a little toasted sesame oil over it.
Top with sesame seeds, furikake, green onion, tamari, Sriracha, cilantro, whatever floats your boat.
Enjoy! Let me know if you make this and how you liked it.
Sesame Salmon Rice Bowls
For the Salmon + Marinade
- 1 lb salmon (1 lb max; anything 3/4 - 1 lb will work) Sockeye or Coho may require less cooking than Atlantic or King, so start checking after 5 minutes
- 1/4 cup tamari or shoyu
- 1 tbsp chili-garlic oil or sub Sriracha
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar seasoned rice vinegar is fine also
- 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- small squeeze or touch of honey
- 1 hot house or Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar seasoned or unseasoned
- 1 tsp sesame oil toasted or regular
- pinch salt if needed
- 1.5 c rice (follow package directions and water quantity based on type of rice you're using. I used Jasmine)
- 1.5 c water
- sea sat to taste
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 2-3 radishes, thinly sliced optional, or use instead of carrot
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced also optional
- Rinse the salmon filet and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Cut the salmon into one inch cubes.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the tamari, chili-garlic sauce (you could also use Sriracha), grated ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and garlic powder. Add salmon cubes and toss to coat; marinate at room temp for 30-45 minutes. I usually toss it a couple more times while marinating.
- Make pickled cukes: Slice cucumber thinly and toss with a little sesame oil and seasoned rice vinegar (may also need a few cranks of salt). Put in the fridge and toss occasionally.
- Make rice: Rinse your rice in a strainer under cold water until water runs clear.
- Follow directions on package depending on what type of rice and how you're making it. I used an Instant Pot 1:1 rice to water and set on high for 5 minutes.
- If using cauliflower rice, place a small head of cauli in food processor and process into rice-sized grains, then olive oil a skillet and cook "rice" until slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add sea salt to taste.
- Grate carrot and slice radish and avocado if using. Set aside.
- After salmon has marinated for 30-45 minutes, set oven to broil with rack in upper 1/3 of oven.
- Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment.
- Arrange salmon skin side up on baking sheet and broil for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and skin is crispy. Remove from oven.
- Divide rice evenly among bowls.
- Arrange salmon next to rice.
- Fan cucumber out across from salmon (see pic for inspo)
- Add grated carrot, radish, avocado.
- Top with optional toppings: sesame seeds (toast them in a dry skillet if you're fancy), furikake, green onion, cilantro, whatever you fancy. Use tamari or Sriracha if desired.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.