This Vietnamese Inspired Instant Pot Salmon makes the best use of the Instant Pot, by producing beautifully moist and flaky salmon in minutes. Served with a Vietnamese-inspired sauce.
I think the fact that it took me a long time to pull the trigger on buying an Instant Pot speaks to my ambivalence. I classed the Instant Pot with the Slow Cooker (an appliance I don't use all that often).
There is no doubt that there are foods that benefit from slow cooking or pressure cooking. The thing is, it isn't a huge list. Yet there seems to be a tendency for some to think that just about anything can be put into a "cooker". And I guess, technically, it can. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should. At least if great food is your goal :)
So in the month or so since I have had an Instant Pot in my kitchen, I've been experimenting. A lot. I've tried Mac and Cheese. And Rice Pudding. Both of which produced passable results, but not approaching the results I get from cooking them the traditional way. And in my world, I'm just never going to settle for "passable". I mean, it's the same ingredients, same number of calories and pretty much the same amount of time really, so why would I settle for just passable?
So I guess all that is to say, is that if I do share an Instant Pot recipe here, you can be darned sure that, at least in my opinion, the use of the Instant Pot IMPROVED the dish from the traditional cooking method. No stuff cooked in an instant pot just because I can :)
So that brings us to this Vietnamese Salmon. The recipe comes from Melissa Clark's new instant pot cookbook. Melissa Clark is, of course, a multi-cookbook author and NYT contributor. I picked up her book specifically, as I reasoned that she would probably bring similar thinking to her recipes and so far, that's proven to be true!
No Instant Pot? No worries! I've included a traditional oven method for this Vietnamese Salmon, as well! See the "Recipe Notes" at the bottom of the recipe card.
While the Instant Pot doesn't offer any time saving here, when you factor in the time to bring it up to pressure, the results of the short pressure cooking on the texture of the salmon was outstanding! Perfect, flaky, moist salmon, without any of that white stuff that baking salmon often produces that is so unappetizing. A definite win for the instant pot here!
Cook's Notes for Vietnamese Instant Pot Salmon
If you're not familiar with Vietnamese flavours, it may take a bite or two to reconcile what you think it's going to taste like with what it actually tastes like :) Your head may be expecting the sweetness of teriyaki (soy with sugar), but what you'll taste is something distinctly earthy and complex, from the use of fish sauce with sugar. It's different, but equally delicious! That said, I suspect this dish isn't high on the kid-friendly scale. I know my kids would probably not have approved in their early years :)
This salmon is perfect served with rice, which will soak up the lovely sauce beautifully. Something green, like just wilted baby bok choy or spinach is also nice on the side.
Classically, you would pair this dish with cilantro. I am not a fan of cilantro and usually substitute with flat-leafed parsley. But since I happened to have some pea sprouts in my fridge that needed using, so they went on top instead. They turned out to be a lovely fresh note with the earthy sauce. I'd do that again :)
Looking for Instant Pot Salmon Recipes? You might also like my Instant Pot Teriyaki Salmon!
Instant Pot Vietnamese Salmon
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 3 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- Finely grated zest of 1 lime
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 fresh skinless salmon fillets (preferably centre cut (or frozen, fully thawed))
- Sliced green onion (white and green parts, cut diagonally)
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Fresh lime wedges (for drizzling)
- Set the Instant Pot to SAUTE (normal heat). Add the oil, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, lime zest, lime juice and black pepper to the Instant Pot. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the cooker.
- Place the fish into the cooker, with the flat side that had the skin up. Spoon some of the sauce over the fish. Cover the cooker and cook on LOW PRESSURE for 1 minute. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then release the remaining pressure manually.
- Switch the cooker back to SAUTE (normal heat) and cook your salmon and sauce for another 30 seconds - 1 minute or so, or until salmon is cooked to your liking.
- Carefully lift the salmon from the cooker and place onto a rimmed serving platter, flipping them over so that the side that was down is now up. Continue cooking the sauce in your cooker until reduced and syrupy, about 3 minutes more.
- Spoon reduced sauce over salmon and garnish with sliced green onion and cilantro leaves. Serve with fresh lime wedges for drizzling.
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine oil, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, lime zest, lime juice and pepper in an oven-proof baking dish just large enough to hold your salmon fillets flat. Place salmon fillets into dish with sauce, with the flat side that had the skin facing up. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until salmon is cooked to your taste. Remove dish from oven, then remove salmon to a serving platter, flipping the salmon so the bottom side is now up. Place dish with sauce back into the oven under the broiler (about 6 inches from heat) to reduce and thicken the sauce slightly, about another 1-2 minutes or so. Spoon reduced sauce over salmon. Garnish with green onion and cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges for drizzling.
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I ultimately decided to buy the 3 Quart Instant Pot, since I am most often cooking for only two people, and it's a perfect size for rice cooking! There are several models of the 3 Quart Instant Pot, as well as larger sized models, if you are cooking for a crowd.
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