This salmon stir fry starts with chunks of marinated salmon that become sweetly caramelized in the oven or air fryer before being added to a stir fry of kale, zucchini, and mushrooms for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner idea.
Eating more omega-3-packed salmon during the week is always a good idea, and just one reason grilled salmon, poached salmon, and baked salmon are always part of my weekly eating goals. Today’s recipe is cooked in two stages, where chunks of sweetly caramelized salmon are cooked in the oven or air fryer then added to a quick veggie stir fry on the stove.
This salmon stir fry came about after I saw Jules Food Instagram post about her salmon candy cooked in the air fryer. I cooked the salmon chunks on high heat in my convection oven—essentially the same method as an air fryer. The result is caramelized, moist and flaky chunks of salmon you could pop in your mouth like candy. I made it a complete meal by foraging through the fridge for stir fry-friendly veg served over leftover white rice. After sharing my finished dish on my IG stories, many of you asked for the recipe, so here it is.
What’s in This Caramelized Salmon Stir Fry
Inspired by Jules’s post for sweetly marinated salmon nuggets, I made my own marinade with soy sauce, sesame oil, and Japanese barbecue sauce before sprinkling the salmon with pinched piles of brown sugar.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Fresh, wild-caught salmon
- Soy sauce (or liquid aminos)
- Japanese bbq sauce — Bachan’s Japanese BBQ Sauce is the brand Jules recommends and I used too
- Sesame oil
- Brown sugar
- Canola oil or cooking spray
- Lacinato kale
- Mushrooms — I used shiitake but any mushroom works
- Green onion
- Sesame seeds
- Cooked white rice
First, the Salmon Marinade
Trim the skin and cut the salmon into 1-inch chunks. Look for a thick, fleshy salmon to get the best, meaty salmon chunks.
Mix the soy sauce, Japanese BBQ sauce, and sesame oil and pour over the salmon. Using a small bowl ensures the marinade envelops the salmon, absorbing evenly.
Marinate the salmon for 10 minutes or so. Fresh salmon doesn’t take long to absorb the flavors. Plus, marinating fish for too long can make it stringy.
Prep the Vegetables
Thinly slice the kale. Remove the stems before slicing the kale or it will taste woody and tough.
Chop the mushrooms and zucchini into the same size chunks. A large dice ensures the vegetables cook at the same rate.
Slice the green onion now for garnishing later. For Asian cooking, I like to slice my green onion at an angle to make a pretty presentation.
Prep the Salmon
Remove the salmon from the marinade, but keep that sauce! Because this fish is so fresh, personally I’m okay with using the marinade as is for the sauce for this recipe. To me, it’s like eating poke. But, if that doesn’t sit well with you, place the marinade in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 2 minutes on high to kill any possible lurking bacteria.
Pat the marinade from the salmon chunks before baking. Removing the extra moisture from the salmon ensures the salmon roasts instead of steams when cooking.
Transfer the salmon to a baking sheet lined with foil and sprinkle with brown sugar. Adding a few pinches of brown sugar to each cube of salmon creates a caramelized crust while the inside stays moist.
Bake or Air Fry the Salmon Nuggets
How to cook salmon nuggets in the air fryer:
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Prep the cooking basket with cooking spray.
- Place the salmon nuggets on the basket allowing room for air to flow.
- Cook for 10 minutes.
How to cook salmon nuggets in the convection oven:
- Preheat the convection oven to 400°F.
- Place the salmon on a baking sheet lined with foil.
- Cook for 7-10 minutes or until flaky and caramelized.
Stir Fry the Vegetables
While the salmon cooks, start the vegetables.
- Heat a generous drizzle of oil in a large skillet over medium-high. I like using these non-stick skillets for stir frys so the sauce doesn’t burn.
- Cook the kale, mushrooms, and zucchini for 3-4 minutes. Toss every so often while allowing time for steam to build and cook the veg.
- Add 3-4 tablespoons of the reserved marinade, and continue cooking until tender. Adding the marinade near the end of cooking helps finish the vegetables off while absorbing flavor.
- Season with toasted sesame seeds. Taste, then add more sesame oil if desired.
Taste that Carmelized Candied Salmon!
Smaller cuts of salmon mean more surface area to caramelize and crisp. The result is a tender, flaky chunk with more candied flavor on all sides.
While the tops and sides of the salmon look golden-delicious, the bottom is where it’s at. Extra contact time with the sheet pan means a more seared bottom that’s extra delicious.
Combine the Salmon With the Stir Fry Veg
Nestle the salmon with the veg and gently toss. In order to keep your nuggets whole, don’t get too rough with your salmon toss here. Gently fold into the veg and add more reserved marinade as needed.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice. I like perfectly cooked white rice with this dish, but brown rice, udon noodles, or serving it all on its own is a tasty call.
What to Serve With Teriyaki Salmon Stir Fry
- Perfectly Cooked White Rice
- Asian Broccolini
- Sweet and Sour Asian Pickled Cucumbers
- Sesame Soba Noodles
- Mashed Cauliflower With Parmesan and Chives
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Caramelized Salmon Stir Fry
- ¾ pound salmon filet
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup Japanese barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 ½ cups lacinato kale
- 2 ½ cups zucchini
- 2 ½ cups shiitake mushroom
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 cups cooked white rice
- 2 green onions
- toasted sesame seeds
- Preheat a convection oven or air fryer to 400°F. Trim the skin and cut the salmon into 1-inch chunks then place in a small bowl. Mix the soy sauce, Japanese BBQ sauce, and sesame oil and pour over the salmon. Marinate the salmon while prepping the vegetables, for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the stems and veins from the kale and slice in thin slivers. Chop the mushrooms and zucchini into similar size chunks. Slice the green onion and set aside for garnishing later.
- Remove the salmon from the marinade, but reserve the sauce. Place the marinade in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 2 minutes on high to kill any possible lurking bacteria. Use a paper towel to pat the marinade from the salmon chunks then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil. Or, if air frying, spray the basket with cooking spray and place the salmon in a single layer on the basket with enough space to encourage airflow. Just before baking, sprinkle the salmon with generous pinches of brown sugar.
- Bake in the convection oven or air fryer for 7-10 minutes, or until caramelized on the outside but flaky and moist inside.
- While the salmon cooks heat a generous drizzle of oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook the kale, mushrooms, and zucchini for 3-4 minutes, tossing every so often while allowing time for steam to build and cook the veg. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the reserved marinade, and continue cooking until tender. Season with sesame seeds.
- Remove the salmon from the oven or air fryer and nestle the chunks into the stir-fried vegetables. Gently toss as not to break up the salmon. Sprinkle with more sesame seeds and green onion and add more reserved marinade to taste. Serve with rice or noodles.
More All-In-One Asian Dinner Ideas
- How to Make the BEST Fried Rice
- Kimchi Fried Rice
- Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
- Thai Garlic and Black Pepper Tofu With Mushrooms
- Sesame Shrimp With Asian Greens Rice Bowl
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