Salmon Bites with Wasabi Mayo

skewered salmon bites on a tray topped with wasabi mayo and fresh cilantro
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Salmon bites with wasabi mayo is a recipe that transforms one of the worlds’ healthiest foods into a supper that’s as fun to eat as it is good for you. 

What Is It With the Word “Bites” and Why Does It Make Everything More Awesome? A TMP Inquiry. 

At least around here, when we follow a protein with the word “bites”, our kids are about 15,000% more likely to eat said protein. Case in point; these super delicious steak bites. I mean, we get it. Sliding a bite-sized cube of salmon fillet off a skewer—one that’s been perfectly sautéed in a garlicky brown sugar-and-soy sauce marinade—and then dipping it into a spicy, tart wasabi mayo that’s as green as the intense root that flavors it? Yeah, OK. That’s a pretty fun way to eat salmon—even for grown-ups.

The Best Marinade for Salmon, Ever. 

We all know that we should be eating more fish, and that salmon is especially healthy. But we’re not sure how to season salmon? When it comes to salmon seasoning, we’re firmly in the less-is-more camp. The best salmon recipe is one that lets the meaty flavor of the salmon shine through, and that’s exactly what this simple, Asian salmon marinade is all about. Somewhat inspired by the sweet-umami flavor of teriyaki, our salmon bites marinate in a simple mixture of: 

  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce—or tamari, if you’re gluten-free. 
  • Garlic—fresh! Use a microplane to grate it, so that it melds easily into the marinade. 
  • Ginger—also fresh! The microplane grateris perfect for this, too. 

Let’s Talk About the Best Way to Cook Salmon. 

In other words, why you’ve got to learn how to pan-sear salmon, because it’s the very best way to cook this blushing pink fish. Here’s why:

  • You know that salmon is a really healthy fish. Loaded with protein, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, salmon nutrition is not in question. But, if you drench it in butter or smother it in cream sauce, you’ll counteract all that goodness. That’s where pan-fried salmon like these salmon bites come in! A quick sauté in oil ensures that the cooked salmon that comes out of the pan is as loaded with nutrition (and nothing else) as the raw salmon that went in.
  • Pan-searing salmon on skewers like this maximizes the surface area that comes into contact with the heat source (in this case, a nice hot pan). More surface area = crispy edges, which means the salmon is just flat-out more interesting to eat. In other words, it’s extremely kid-friendly (and adult-friendly, too.) 
  • A lot of people struggle with how to tell when salmon is done, and it’s really easy to tell with this cooking method because the answer is FAST. Salmon is done when it hits an internal temperature of 145°F, but you’ll probably know just by looking. The color of the fish will go from a more vibrant red—especially if you’re cooking a wild variety of Sockeye or Coho salmon—to an opaque, soft shade of pink. Flakiness is another sure sign of doneness. 

Wasabi Mayo—Three Ingredients, One Crazy-Delicious Condiment.

Call it wasabi aioli, if you’d like to make this salmon fillet accompaniment sound a little up-market. But really, all we’ve done is take our beloved wasabi paste—a sushi night must, IMO—and make it a little more crowd-pleasing by whisking it together with mayo for a creamy, Asian-inspired condiment that we’re slathering on just about everything these days. A little squeeze of lemon juice thins the mixture, and adds a little zing. It’s an irresistible dip for these Asian salmon bites. If you’re not into spice, start with a little less wasabi paste than called for and taste as you go. You can always make it spicier by just adding a bit more wasabi paste to the salmon sauce. 

salmon bite skewers on a white metal tray drizzled with wasabi aioli and topped with fresh cilantro and sesame seeds

Tools You'll Need: 

Other Contenders for the Best Salmon Recipe Ever: 

We’ve got a salmon recipe for just about any palate. 

The King of All Salmon Recipes. 

At least, it is in our households. Let us know how it goes over in yours! Snap a photo of your marinated salmon bites with wasabi mayo and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Salmon Bites with Wasabi Mayo

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 lb salmon (thickest cut, if possible)
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Soy sauce

Wasabi Mayo

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp wasabi paste
1 tbsp lemon juice

Method

  1. Carefully remove the skin from the salmon filets * and cut salmon into 2 inch pieces.
  2. In a medium sized bowl combine brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger. Toss salmon pieces in the same bowl along with sauce and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
  3. In a large skillet heat the oil over med-high heat. Thread the salmon pieces onto metal skewers (or wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes) and place the salmon skewers into the pan. Allow to sear without moving them, about two minutes. Flip them over and sear them for two minutes on the other side. This may need to be done in batches depending on the size of your pan.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the mayo, wasabi paste and lemon juice until smooth.
  5. Serve the salmon skewers with extra sauce, dipped in the wasabi aioli. If you're looking for a side dish to go with this try our bok choy or perfect broccoli!

*If your salmon came from the seafood section at your local grocery store, have your butcher remove the skin for you before packaging.