A Perfectly Simple Recipe

Salmon Fillet With Balsamic Glaze


Treasures from the sea were never found on my plate when I was growing up. Well, unless it came from a tuna can. Except for my Grandmother Rose our family was just not into what the ocean had to offer with the exception of crab for my dad and brother. Even grandma repeating fish is brain food didn’t change the menu. Today, there is nothing welcomed like a nicely prepared ocean fish.

Summer is almost over but there is just enough time for one more succulent salmon recipe. This recipe is revised from one printed in the July 2001 Bon Appetit Magazine. It has an impressive presentation whether you are cooking for a crowd or for one.

Thank you Dora for suggesting this recipe so many years ago for me to prepare for Marc, and for taking the recipe from the barbecue to the oven. Marc did enjoy salmon cooked this way. Or was it Ed? Dora and I worked together for years in research. We disagreed more than agreed except about food. Remembering our high tea in Phoenix. Or was that Pasadena? Apparently, I’m not remembering.

Miss you Dora.


Total time start to finish 40 minutes
Ingredients for six servings

6   5-6 ounce salmon fillets with skin (or one large fillet with skin) about 1 inch thick in the thickest part. Cooking time depends on fish thickness. I have a wonderful YouTube presentation by Helen Rennie, Testing Fish for Doneness, at the end of this recipe. It’s great information for fish cooking beginners, and a great review for the more experienced.

  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 T toasted sesame seeds

Run your fingertips lightly over the flesh feeling for bones. Remove bones with kitchen tweezers or pliers. Leave fish at room temperature when preparing the glaze.

Combine vinegar, wine, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil and simmer until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 17 minutes. Season the glaze with salt and pepper. This can be made a week ahead, and refrigerated. If refrigerated rewarm over low heat before using. I used the proportions given here for the almost 4 pound fish pictured in my photos. It would have been nice to have some glaze left after cooking to drizzle. This would have given even a more showy appearance and intensified the flavor.

Brush fish lightly with oil on both sides and sprinkle salt and pepper. Place fish skin side down on parchment and cover with the glaze. It is easier to place parchment in your pan and then place the fish on top, followed by the glaze. Your pan should be preheated.

IMPORTANT: This oven was turned on HI broil for a few minutes before the fish was placed on the preheated grill here 6 inches from the heating element. I used foil lined parchment to give more strength and more ease of handling. With a very large fillet there is the dilemma of transferring to the serving plate when all is done.

Leave the oven on HI broil checking the fish every minute to see if the glaze has turned to a caramel color. Open the oven door just for checking if you need to see clearly. This color change only takes a few minutes, about 5. When the color is reached turn off the oven and keep the oven door closed.  In this picture you can see the parchment got too close to the heat during the broiling. Roll the foil lined parchment on the sides of the fish toward the fish exposing the foil not parchment. Unlike what I did here. And if you use parchment alone keep it low under the fish. The smoke from this parchment was minimal. But not for the smoke alarm!

At 10 minutes total time in the oven check for doneness. Use a fork in the thickest part of the fillet. The flesh should pull back with only slight resistance. The center will be slightly translucent. Remove fish from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. It will continue to cook and the center will become opaque.  If your fish is not done, very translucent with lots of resistance, return the fish to the oven and check again in about 2 minutes. Dora stated she had no problem leaving the fish in the oven until serving once the oven was turned off. I’m not sure I agree. Electric ovens especially maintain heat for some time.

Salmon fillet with Balsamic Glaze

Isn’t this beautiful! Sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds optional. Serve with summer vegetables and wild rice. And with melon for dessert. A great summer menu for guests and family. Don’t forget the wine. Dora recommended a Riesling. Pinot Noir is my choice.

A quick hint on wild rice if you don’t have a recipe. Buy brown rice and wild rice separately.  Make half as many servings of each as you need totally. So, make 3 servings of wild rice and 3 of brown rice if you are cooking for 6. The wild rice requires longer cooking usually 60 minutes. Brown rice usually requires 40 minutes. Use a covered pot large enough for both fully cooked. Cook the wild rice 20 minutes substituting vegetable or chicken broth for liquid required for your wild rice servings. Add uncooked brown rice to same pot after this 20 minutes with broth for liquid required for the brown rice servings. Now cook both the remainder of time. Add sautéed sliced mushrooms, and finely chopped sautéed onions if you like.

Toasted sesame seeds: Use your stovetop with skillet over medium heat. No need to add anything but the seeds. Toast to golden brown stirring as needed.


YouTube Presentation by Helen Rennie, Testing Fish for Doneness. You might want to check out Helen’s site, beyondsalmon.com


  1. Rich Milhorn
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Looks very professional. I am excited to watch it get off the ground step-by-step! Congratulations Anita!

    • Anita Willitts
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 1:40 am | Permalink

      Hi Rich,
      Finally. Thank you so much for your help.