Sake is the Secret Weapon in This Best-Ever Miso Glaze Over Grilled Salmon

Meaty wild salmon steaks hold up beautifully on a hot grill, and our Japanese-inspired sauce is so addictive you’ll be making it a regular in your dinner rotation.

Photo: Krysten Wilkes

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

We’ve all used wine in our cooking to add flavor depth to our dishes, so it probably comes as no surprise that sake works much the same way. Made from fermented rice, this Japanese drink is often paired with salty, umami miso paste. Here, they are both used to create a glaze that perfectly complements grilled salmon steaks.

A salmon steak is a single portion cut perpendicular to the salmon spine that includes the skin and bones. Don’t be afraid to grill salmon – due to its high-fat content, it actually bastes from the inside. In practice, this means that your salmon won’t dry out, leaving you with the silkiest, most tender fish.

Try our miso-glazed salmon steaks over a quick fennel salad with creamy, wasabi dressing. The salad uses two types of cucumber for added interest, both Persian and English, but feel free to use just one variety if you prefer. Smother the dressing over both the salad and fish for ultimate flavor.


Miso Wild Sesame Salmon Steaks with Fennel Citrus Salad & Wasabi Dressing

Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
6 min
50 min



  • 3½ tbsp white or red miso
  • 2 tbsp sake or Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tbsp liquid raw honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • ½ tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 10-oz wild-caught salmon steaks, patted dry
  • 1/4 cup mixed sesame seeds


  • ½ cup full-fat yogurt (preferably Balkan-style)
  • 4 tsp apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp wasabi powder (or ½ tsp wasabi paste)
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp safflower oil
  • 2 tsp liquid raw honey
  • ¼ tsp each sea salt and freshly cracked pepper


  • 1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • ¼ English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • ½ Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 cups watercress
  • 1 pink grapefruit or orange, peeled and cut into rounds, optional


  1. Prepare salmon: In a small bowl, whisk miso and sake until smooth. Whisk in honey, sesame oil, tamari, salt and pepper. Place salmon on a baking pan and brush both sides with all but 3 tbsp of the miso mixture. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, uncovered.  
  2. Meanwhile, preheat a greased grill (or an indoor grill pan) to medium-high. 
  3. Prepare dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate. 
  4. Prepare salad: On a large platter, toss fennel, cucumbers, onion and watercress. Arrange citrus over top (if using). 
  5. Spread sesame seeds on a plate and press one side of each salmon steak into seeds. Place fish onto the grill (seed-side down) for 2 to 3 minutes, brush with remaining miso mixture and flip. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more, until opaque and fish flakes easily. (TIP: If cooking fish on an outdoor grill, use a grilling basket for easy flipping or tongs with a spatula.) 
  6. Arrange fish over the salad and serve with the cold wasabi yogurt dressing.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories 298
  • Carbohydrate Content 13 g
  • Cholesterol Content 69 mg
  • Fat Content 12 g
  • Fiber Content 2 g
  • Protein Content 32 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 3 g
  • Sodium Content 643 mg
  • Sugar Content 8 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 4 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 5 g