Sweet Chilli Salmon is my go to fish dish for a quick weeknight meal or gussied up with sides and extras as part of an Asian inspired feast. I serve my sticky salmon with sticky rice & steamed greens for a full meal with pungent flavours. Best of all, its really quite quick to make and rather impressive to boot.
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I make this dish almost as a matter of course when my pescatarian and wheat-free friends come over as it satisfies all of us perfectly. It is also a go-to dish for my Dad and I (along with my Korean Ramen with Belly Pork) as there aren’t many dishes that he loves which don’t involve potato. He’s a Quick Pan Aggie kind of guy!
I love using fish with Japanese inspired flavours. Apart from the obvious use in Sushi, I love to steam some cod with soy and ginger or more often than not, grab a fat salmon fillet and add to any variety of noodle, stir fry or Sticky Rice.
How to Serve Sweet Chilli Salmon
The sauce recipe originally came from a Wagamama cookbook but when I first wrote up this recipe, I couldn’t find it or remember what it was called. Internal culinary Chinese whispers over time meant that I couldn’t even recall how close this version was to the original. I did know that the spring onion and coriander were my own additions.
And the one day I opened up my copy of The Wagamama Cookbook and lo and behold, went straight to the original recipe for this sauce. Its called “Chilli Ramen Sauce” and started life as follows:
4 tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce
6 tbsp Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)
2 scant tsp Sugar
2 tbsp Malt Vinegar
So, not so different as a base but the ratios have changed a bit over the years!
Make Sweet Chilli Salmon into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
Ingredients for Sweet Chilli Salmon
Also don’t be scared to use the coriander stalks, especially in the sauce. They are just as tasty and fresh as the leaves themselves.
My preferred cut is a thick slice from the centre of a side of salmon. Not the horseshoe shaped fillets that are a full slice of the whole fish.
I find that thick side fillets are thick enough to get nice and coloured on the outside whilst staying juicy and pink on the inside. But use whichever cut you prefer.
This recipe pan fries the salmon fillet but you can use my air fryer salmon fillet instructions instead if you prefer.
I always buy my ginger in jar form. This means that I always have some on hand in the fridge. It also means that I don’t have to break anything chopping it (beware the garlic press, they are just not robust enough!) and I don’t end up with wrinkled and unusable nubs of ginger littering my fridge drawer.
To find out about more of my favourite Asian Ingredients, check out my guide to the Top 16 Asian Ingredients which I always keep stocked in my pantry.
I’ve also suggested a whole bunch of recipes to try once your cupboard is fully stocked!
Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)
This is a pungent asian sauce made from fermented anchovies. And it stinks. Really badly. But it tastes nothing like it smells so please try it if you are unfamiliar. It really makes the sauce all it should be.
All of the supermarkets sell it but I love to buy massive bottles from the Asian grocers.
You could easily replace the salmon in this recipe with another fish, or just use some fat king prawns. Equally you could use a chicken breast/thighs or a juicy pork chop as the main protein sauce. Duck breast works great too.
The sauce is incredibly flexible. You could also swap the sticky rice for noodles.
If you don’t like coriander, and strangely many don’t, just leave it out.
Make it Vegetarian
My Sweet Chilli Salmon is suitable for pescatarians but not vegetarians without modification.
There are a couple of easy swaps to make it vegetarian. Firstly the bulk of the protein needs to be addressed. Fried chunks or slices of tofu would work great here. Actually I quite often serve some fried tofu on the side anyway!
You could substitute something else like quorn chunks or just go heavy on the veggies.
The other ingredient which should be avoided is the fish sauce. It is made with anchovies. I would substitute this with a mixture of 1 part: vegetable stock (very strong), 1 part light soy sauce and 1 part: lime juice.
Make it Vegan
Depending on the alternative protein source that you choose, making this dish vegetarian does also makes the recipe suitable for vegans as it contains no dairy at all. Please see the section above.
I say this but choose the alternative protein source carefully as some vegetarian meat substitutes like quorn contain egg and are not suitable for vegans.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This Sweet Chilli Salmon recipe is naturally dairy, nut, egg, and gluten free. But. This does rely on the sweet chilli sauce that you choose being free from these ingredients. So please check carefully.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Sweet Chilli Salmon
I keep a small pair of tweezers in my utensil drawer for the sole purpose of pin-boning fish. They don’t get used terribly often but boy are they useful to have when I need them.
I use the smallest frying pan possible when cooking the salmon to minimise the smoke. Open a window and put the extractor on in any event. Salmon is oily so it smokes quite a lot when cooked on a high heat.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
Whilst I would always cook the salmon immediately before eating, you can get ahead with both the rice and the sauce.
The sauce can be prepared up to a couple of days in advance and could be frozen too. I would however be inclined to add the spring onion and coriander after reheating and just before serving.
Leftover Sweet Chilli Salmon
It is fairly unlikely you will have much in the way of leftover salmon as you will generally cook as many salmon fillets as you have people. If you do find that you have some leftover salmon, it will reheat in the next day or two.
A great idea would be to mix it with a little of the sauce and use as a filling for my Scallop Onigiri instead of the miso scallops. Yum!
Sweet Chilli Salmon Tips
Always start cooking the salmon flesh side down.
This stops the issue of the skin shrinking and the flesh not coming into contact with the pan once flipped.
Also don’t forget to cook the sides of the fillet.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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More Fish & Seafood Recipes
Sweet Chilli Salmon Recipe
- 150 g Fresh Salmon Fillet
- Oil Spray
- Sea Salt Flakes
- 10 g Fresh Coriander (Cilantro)
- 1 Spring Onions (Scallions)
- 3 tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce
- 2 tbsp Fish Sauce (Nam Pla) - Nam Pla
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 2 tsp White Wine/Cyder/Rice Wine Vinegar
- 2 tsp Ginger Paste
- Reserve half of the 10g Fresh Coriander for later garnishing. Roughly chop the other half and add to a small bowl.
- Finely slice 1 Spring Onions and add to the chopped coriander along with 3 tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce, 2 tbsp Fish Sauce, 1 tsp Sugar, 2 tsp Wine Vinegar, 2 tsp Ginger Paste and 2 tbsp Water.
- Stir thoroughly until the sugar is fully dissolved. Set side.
- Ensure that a 150g Salmon Fillet is dry and check for pin bones. Remove any bones with tweezers if needed. Season with Sea Salt Flakes.
- Take a small frying pan and add a couple of sprays of Oil Spray to the pan to coat it and heat until nearly smoking – I use a quite high heat. Add the Salmon Fillet to the pan, flesh side down.
- Leave for 4 to 5 minutes until the flesh is golden and you can see that the flesh has cooked to nearly half way up the fillet.
- Turn the fish and leave to cook on the skin side to the desired done-ness. Take off the heat and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Turn the heat down on the frying pan and drain off most of the oil.
- Add the sauce ingredients to the pan and warm for only 1 minute or so until warmed through but not boiling. Take off the heat ready to serve.
- Top you rice and/or greens with the salmon.
- Pour over the sauce and garnish with the reserved coriander.