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This sweet and sour salmon is made with seared salmon, an easy, homemade sauce, rice and pan-seared brussels sprouts.
It’s one of my favorite seasons– brussels sprout season!
Last week, I saw brussels sprouts on the stalk at Trader Joe’s, and I couldn’t resist. I never can!
I didn’t always love brussels sprouts. And I know it’s not an understatement to say a few other people might feel that way too! At best, brussels sprouts seemed boring, and at worst they were too bitter.
Happily, I learned several years ago that it’s all in the preparation. The first recipe that won me over was a version of this oven-roasted brussels sprouts with apple cider vinegar.
From that point, there was no going back. Honey balsamic brussels sprouts, brussels sprouts gratin, a shaved brussels sprouts salad — the flavor possibilities were endless.
They were so good I even wanted to incorporate them into main dishes, like this chili garlic tofu.
Unexpectedly, I had found a new favorite vegetable!
So when I was looking around for a tasty side to go with this sweet and sour salmon, I knew brussels sprouts could carry it off.
This combination of salmon, sauce, rice, and brussels sprouts uses pan-searing to bring out all the best flavors.
What Can I Use Besides Brussels Sprouts?
If brussels sprouts aren’t in season, or if they just aren’t your favorite veggie, that’s okay!
You can swap them for bok choy (in the summer or fall) or zucchini (in the summer).
If you prefer, you could also roast some broccoli and use that instead.
Can I Use a Different Type of Rice?
Just make sure to follow the package directions if you’re using a different variety of rice.
The recipe card has stovetop directions for cooking the jasmine rice, but if you’ve got an Instant Pot, try making Instant Pot jasmine rice!
How to Make Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce
Start by whisking together rice vinegar, brown sugar, toasted sesame oil, fish sauce, red chili flakes, and a garlic clove to a small saucepan.
Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, and let it cook for about 3 minutes.
Then remove the sauce from heat. It’ll be waiting for you when you’re ready to serve the salmon!
Love the sweet and sour flavor profile? Try making this slow-roasted duck, which is served with a similar sauce!
Can I Use Store-Bought Sweet and Sour Sauce?
However, we haven’t tested this with store-bought sauce, so make sure you like the flavor of the sauce you choose.
Do I Really Need Fish Sauce?
If possible, yes, use fish sauce.
That said, if you don’t have any, you can swap in soy sauce. The flavor will end up being a little different, but still delicious.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Salmon with Brussels Sprouts
After your rice is underway and the sweet and sour sauce is finished, you can turn your attention to the salmon and the brussels sprouts.
Pat the salmon dry, and sprinkle it with salt. Then set it aside for the time being.
Chop the brussels sprouts up into bite-size pieces. I like to quarter them.
In a heavy pan, heat some oil and then add the brussels sprouts in a single layer.
I use a Lodge 12″ carbon steel skillet.
Cook the brussels sprouts for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want them to develop just a little blackening.
When they’re done, transfer them into a separate dish. You’ll now use the same pan to cook the fish.
Place the salmon fillets skin-side down in the pan, and cook for 2-4 minutes. (Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish.)
The salmon will begin to turn opaque from the bottom up as it cooks. When it’s about halfway cooked, slide a thin metal spatula underneath it.
I use a Wusthof fish spatula, but a lot of people also seem to like this Toadfish fish spatula.
If the fish releases from the pan, it’s ready to flip. If it doesn’t, let it cook around 30 seconds longer and check it again.
After you’ve flipped the fish, cook it for another 2-4 minutes. Keep an eye on the color. When the fish is fully opaque, it’s done.
Now, scoop some rice onto bowls or plates, and add the brussels sprouts and salmon.
Drizzle the sweet and sour sauce over the salmon. Then serve and enjoy!
Sweet and Sour Salmon with Brussels Sprouts
- 1 cup water
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup jasmine rice
Sweet + Sour Sauce
- ¼ cup rice vinegar Or swap mirin
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar Or use half for a less-sweet sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce Or use soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 garlic clove, minced
Fish + Vegetables:
- 8 ounces salmon thawed, pin bones removed
- pinch sea salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ½ pound brussels sprouts, quartered Or use sliced zucchini (in summer) or halved bok choy (summer or fall)
- Stovetop directions follow. Alternatively, use a rice cooker or Instant Pot to cook the rice, following the package or appliance directions for jasmine rice.Stovetop Directions:Add water and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the rice, return to a boil, then immediately lower heat to low.Cover pot and cook for 15 minutes minutes, and then remove from heat. If you've got the time, leave the rice covered for 10 more minutes to help prevent it from sticking to the saucepan.
Make the Sweet + Sour Sauce
- Add all sweet and sour sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and whisk together. Heat over medium heat until the sauce begins to simmer, then continue simmering for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cook the Brussels Sprouts + Salmon:
- Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
- Heat a heavy pan on medium heat. Add oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add the brussels sprouts in a single layer. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to blacken.Remove the veggies from the pan and add the remaining oil.
- Place the fillets skin-side down in the pan and cook 2-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. (If your salmon fillets don't have skin, it doesn't matter which side you cook first.)As the salmon cooks, the flesh will begin to turn opaque from the bottom up. When the fish has cooked halfway through, it's ready to flip.Avoid touching the fish until the fish is ready to flip.
- Use a thin metal spatula to test the fish. If you can slide the spatula under the fish without the fish sticking to the pan, it's ready to flip. If the fillets won't release, give them another 30 seconds. They'll release when they've finished cooking.Cook fish another 2-4 minutes until done. Timing will depend on the thickness of the fillet. (Watch the sides of the fillets to see when the fish is done cooking. It's finished as soon as there are no more translucent patches and it's fully opaque.)
- Scoop the rice onto plates or bowls.Add the salmon and brussels sprouts. Generously spoon the sweet and sour sauce over the salmon, serving any remaining sauce on the side.
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