Baked Salmon with Tangy Cilantro and Scallion Sauce

Baked Salmon with Cilantro Sauce

Last week, we talked a little bit about craving fresh, summery flavors, especially in the dead of winter. They help pick us up out of our cold-weather funk and boost our mood and energy. Let me tell you, this baked salmon with tangy cilantro and scallion sauce is just the recipe to do that. We bake salmon fillets until they are tender and flaky, then we top them with an incredibly savory, slightly sweet, and mouthwateringly zippy cilantro, sesame, and scallion sauce. This baked salmon recipe is also gluten-free, and incredibly easy to make. However, it tastes like something straight off the menu of your favorite fancy restaurant. This also makes a fantastic, healthy meal prep dish for any occasion.

Why this baked salmon recipe works:

Despite the complexity of the flavors in this recipe, it’s actually quite simple. The key is balancing all those subtle flavors out. Salmon is already a very flavorful fish, so we don’t need to do that much to it. That’s one of my favorite things about salmon, and it’s probably the biggest reason why it’s so popular in general (aside from its obvious health benefits). All we do is rub the outside with a pinch of good quality sea salt and some freshly crushed black pepper. Then we bake it at a relatively low temperature to keep it extra tender.

Cilantro sauce in a bowl next to cooked salmon.

Next, we make the sauce base using a savory, spicy, and sweet combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic oil, and raw sugar. Then, we sweat some delectable garlic and crisp scallions in a hot skillet. The key ingredient in the sauce is actually not the cilantro, despite title of the recipe, though. It’s a delightful thing called Shaoxing wine. It’s one of the most popular varieties of traditional Chinese wines, made from fermented rice. It tastes a little bit sweet and a little bit vinegary prior to cooking. However, it becomes much sweeter once it’s reduced, even though some of the acidity remains. As a result, it makes the perfect top-note to our cilantro sauce.

So, we add the Shaoxing wine to the scallion and garlic mixture over medium-high heat. Once it’s reduced by more than half, we add the sauce base mixture and some finely chopped cilantro. This creates an extra smooth, savory, and rich sauce with tangy and herby notes of chili spice and citrus.

Then, we spoon the sauce over the salmon and dig in! Trust me, it is SO GOOD.

Baked Salmon.

How to meal prep this baked salmon:

This baked salmon is also ridiculously easy and quick to meal prep. We bought two pounds of fresh salmon, which came as a whole side. I divided the side into five decent-sized fillets, as my husband takes most of our meal-prepped dishes to work for lunch, and he gets really hungry. So, I just split up the fillets between meal prep containers along with some side dishes. Then, I divided the sauce into five individual servings and put those into small reusable, air-tight containers.

Baked salmon.

You can use any sides you’d like. For our final test recipe (pictured in this post), we opted for steamed kale (because it’s extremely healthy for you and it’s tasty) and spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash may sound weird with this recipe, but I tend to default to rice or quinoa as an accompaniment to proteins, and we get a bit tired of it after a while. So, we decided to go out on a limb and try the squash. Best. Decision. Ever. So nutty, delicious, and perfectly complimentary to the baked salmon and cilantro sauce. When you’re ready to eat, just add the cilantro sauce, and microwave in 30-45 second increments (salmon is delicate) until it’s hot.

And there you have it: the perfect healthy dinner, the perfect lunch or dinnertime meal prep idea, and the perfect recipe to get you out of the cold weather slump. Let us know if you tried it, and check out more of our meal prep ideas here.

Stay cozy <3.

Baked Salmon with Tangy Cilantro Scallion Sauce

This easy baked salmon with tangy cilantro scallion sauce is popping with fresh flavors and healthy ingredients. It's also so easy to make, but tastes like it came from your favorite fancy restaurant and is perfect for weeknight meals or meal prep!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Main Course, Entree
Cuisine: Seafood, Asian
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: Gluten-free, fresh, healthy, high protein, seafood, quick recipes, easy recipes, meal prep, salmon, baked salmon, cilantro, salmon in the oven, cooking salmon, how to make salmon in the oven, easy salmon recipe, low carb
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 380kcal
Author: LM

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

For the cilantro scallion sauce

  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce *use gluten-free if GF
  • 1 tbsp. chili garlic oil
  • 3 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup. fresh scallions chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
  • 3 cloves garlic very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water

For the baked salmon:

  • 2 lbs. salmon fillets *approx. 6 fillets.
  • 1 tsp. course sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper freshly ground

Instructions

For the salmon:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Meanwhile, lightly grease a 10X12 baking dish and place salmon fillets skin side down in the dish.
  • Lightly rub the top of the salmon fillets with sea salt. Then sprinkle ground pepper over them.
  • Place in oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until desired done-ness is reached. The fish should still be tender, but flake apart easily.

For the cilantro scallion sauce:

  • While the salmon cooks, place cilantro in a food processor and give it a spin until the cilantro is approximately the texture of fresh pesto. Set aside until ready to use.
  • In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, chili garlic oil, sesame oil, and sugar. Whisk thoroughly until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Add olive oil to a medium skillet and begin heating over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped garlic and toss, sautéing until the garlic is just beginning to brown. Add chopped scallions (reserving about a tablespoon for garnish), and toss to coat them in the garlic and oil.
  • Add Shaoxing wine. It will bubble and hiss, so have a lid at the ready to cover it. Simmer, and let it reduce by about half. If it bubbles too intensely, lower heat just a little.
  • Add the sesame, sugar, and soy sauce mixture to the skillet, and stir thoroughly. Bring it back up to a simmer.
  • Add 3/4 of the processed cilantro (including the juice), stir, and off heat immediately. Let the sauce cool just slightly, and add the rest of the cilantro. Stir.

To serve:

  • Remove salmon from the oven, place on a plate, and spoon about 3 tablespoons of the sauce over it. Garnish with remaining scallions, sesame seeds, and additional condiments if desired.

Optional instructions for meal prep:

  • Divide cooked salmon fillets between 6 reusable meal prep containers. Add sides to the containers if desired. We used roasted spaghetti squash and steamed kale, but you can choose your own sides depending on what you like.
  • Divide the sauce into 6 smaller reusable containers.
  • When ready to eat, pour sauce over the salmon fillet and heat it in 30-45 minute increments (to prevent the salmon from overcooking), until it is hot.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 1153mg | Potassium: 892mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 450IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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