If you need a quick dinner recipe, this Vietnamese lemongrass salmon is the one for you. It takes less than 30 minutes to make, and is full of flavor thanks to my lemongrass marinade. Serve it with a side of vegetables and rice, and you have the perfect weeknight dinner.
I have been really into experimenting with salmon recently because it is such a versatile and healthy protein. Salmon also is easy to cook, making it the perfect protein for quick dinners. My favorite salmon recipes so far are gochujang salmon and Vietnamese caramelized salmon. The latter made me realize how Vietnamese flavors pair so well with salmon which is how I got the idea for this Vietnamese lemongrass salmon.
What is lemongrass?
Lemongrass is a tough grass that grows in the tropical environments of Southeast Asia. They have fragrant lemon/lime like smell and taste, and it is often used in sauces and marinades to give food flavor. In Vietnamese cuisine, this is a popular ingredient used to flavor meats, vegetables, and fish. Some popular Vietnamese dishes using lemongrass are lemongrass chicken, com suon, and bo kho.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Salmon – I used salmon filets for this recipe, but you can use any cut of salmon.
- Lemongrass – Used to flavor the salmon. You can use 1 tbsp of lime juice as a substitute for lemongrass, but it does not taste the same as with lemongrass,
- Shallot – Adds more flavor to the dish. Shallots can be substituted with sweet yellow onion.
- Garlic – Adds more flavor to the dish. Garlic can be substituted with 1/2 tsp of garlic powder.
- Fish sauce – Adds umami flavor to the dish.
- Oyster sauce – Adds umami flavor to the dish. Oyster sauce can be substituted with soy sauce, but like with lemongrass, the dish doesn’t taste quite the same.
- Vegetable oil – Use any kind of neutral oil or olive oil with for this dish. I’ve tested this recipe with vegetable oil and olive oil, and both work well.
- Honey – Balances out the umami flavors with a little bit of sweetness. Honey can be substituted with light brown sugar.
How to make Vietnamese lemongrass salmon
Combine all the ingredients from lemongrass through honey in a bowl. Mix well and add the salmon. Let it marinate for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to broil. Place salmon on a baking sheet and broil for 5-7 minutes until the internal temperature is 110-125 degrees F. This will result in a medium rare salmon.Serve with vegetables and rice.
How do I know my salmon is cooked?
Like steak, salmon has various temperatures of doneness. Below is a detailed guide on how to cook your salmon to the perfect doneness courtesy of Serious Eats.
- Below 110°F – Salmon is under cooked.
- 110 to 125°F – Salmon is medium rare. Cooked outside with a pink interior. This is my preferred doneness.
- 125°F to 140° – The salmon is entering medium to well-done territory. Flakiness will start to increase. White clumps will start to appear on the surface of the salmon. If you see the white clumps, I would stop cooking the salmon.
- 140°F and above – Salmon has reached its limit. It is essentially overcooked.
A good test to test if your salmon is cooked through is to press your salmon with your finger or a fork. If it flakes easily along the white lines of the fish, it is cooked.
Tips on how to make the perfect Vietnamese lemongrass salmon
How to get a crispy skin on the salmon
This is perhaps one of my favorite kitchen hacks. Before putting the salmon on the baking sheet, heat it in the oven so it’s hot. Then place the salmon on the baking sheet. The heat from the baking sheet will create a crispy skin as soon as the fish hits the baking sheet. My favorite thing to do is place the baking sheet in the oven while the oven is preheating, so I don’t need to add any additional cooking time.
Why you should place your salmon skin side down on the baking sheet
The skin acts as a barrier between the heat from the baking sheet and the meat of the salmon, so the meat doesn’t burn or overcook.
Fully defrost your fish
This might seem crazy to mention but this actually affects the cook time of your dish. This fish was cooked after it’s been fully defrosted. If you put a really cold salmon in the oven, it will take longer to cook.
If you have time, marinate the fish for longer
This fish tastes best when it has had more time to marinate. Typically, I like to marinate for about 1 hour. You can even marinate this fish overnight.
What can you serve with lemongrass salmon?
The best thing to serve this dish with is rice and some sort of vegetable. I usually eat this with white rice but any kind of rice works or even quinoa. If you want to a traditional Vietnamese experience, serve this with com tam, pickled vegetables, and a drizzle of mo hanh.
How do you store this dish?
Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.
Did you make this dish?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
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25-Minute Vietnamese Lemongrass Salmon
- Combine all the ingredients from lemongrass through honey in a bowl. Mix well and add the salmon. Make sure the salmon is complete coated in the marinade.
- Let it marinate for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to broil.
- Place salmon on a baking sheet and broil for 5-7 minutes until the internal temperature is 110-125 degrees F. This will result in a medium rare salmon.
- Serve with vegetables and rice.
- Fully defrost your fish. This actually affects the cook time of your dish. This fish was cooked after it’s been fully defrosted. If you put a really cold salmon in the oven, it will take longer to cook.
- If you have time, marinate the fish for longer. This fish tastes best when it has had more time to marinate. Typically, I like to marinate for about 1 hour. You can even marinate this salmon overnight.