Recently, celebrity chef and Momofuku founder David Chang shared a simple weekend salmon recipe with his TikTok followers. For the most part, it seemed pretty straightforward – it’s hard to find fault with a piece of flaked salmon drenched in a salty-sweet sauce. But one detail that shocked people was how Chang prepared it: in her microwave.
In the video’s caption, Chang calls the “Chef Mike” (aka microwave) method a “delicious way to cook” and adds that it’s especially useful when you’re in a hurry. “I have very little time to get dinner on the table for my kids,” she adds, so microwaved salmon seems to be her go-to at home when she needs a satisfying five-minute meal.
Given David Chang’s prominent position in the food world, there honestly weren’t many naysayers. Some people were concerned about the potential smell of microwaving a piece of raw fish, but Chang himself confirmed that there is “no smell”.
Others saw his space age microwave oven – I mean, the thing opens up automatically, people—and assumed the cooking method would only work with his fancy microwave. But he was also able to suppress these worries.
Most people were just happy to see a chef as famous as Chang share a recipe as timeless and simple as this one. Recipes for real, busy people! What a concept.
And I personally was quite shocked to see real chef touts the microwave method after I wrote about (and tried!) Stephen King’s microwave salmon recipe earlier this year — for which the internet completely ripped him.
While King’s “recipe” didn’t quite sell the method as well as Chang’s, I was still completely obsessed when I tried it myself…and TBH, I’ve done it several times since. So I was really curious to pit Chang’s slightly different recipe and preparation against the king of horror.
At first, I took the ingredients with me. According to Chang’s instructions, all you need is salmon fillet, soy sauce (or tamari), seasoned salt, and agave nectar.
STEP 1: I placed the salmon in a microwave safe glass food storage container. Here’s Chang’s recipe Really differs from King’s – the latter requires the salmon to be placed on a plate and wrapped in a damp paper towel, so I was curious to see what effect this method would have on the texture…and smell.
In the original video, David Chang actually uses a microwave-safe cookware from the Anyday brand, which he often works with. If you have $40+ to spend on microwave cookware, go for it! That said, I really don’t! So I used a very ordinary glass food container with a lid, hoping to get equally delicious results.
STEP 2: Next, I poured about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of agave nectar over the salmon.
Chang used his hands to smooth the soy sauce mixture around the salmon, making sure it was evenly coated; I used a silicone brush. The choice of salmon is yours. Do you.
STEP 3: I evenly sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt all over the piece of fish.
STEP 4: Nervously, I popped this baby into the microwave after that loosely (loosely!) covering the container with a lid.
Chang specifies that three and a half minutes will get you a medium-rare salmon, while five minutes will get you something closer to well done. We hope for something moist but no quite medium rare, I chose four minutes.
STEP 5: After the four minutes were up, I opened the microwave door to find a perfectly pink piece of fish and a thick, bubbling sauce. Even better: There was almost no smell of fish.
Unlike the King’s salmon, which was simply seasoned with sliced lemon and olive oil, I found that the soy sauce really gave the microwaved fish a really nice, salty flavor. As I will be completely honest, I enjoy the smell coming from my microwave.
I let the salmon rest according to the instructions for exactly one minute. Then to test it for doneness, I used an instant read thermometer to measure the temperature. As if by magic, it registered for perfect salmon: 135ºF.
When I took a fork to see how things were going texture-wise, I was pleased to see that it was just as tender as King’s recipe—if not more so. I was also really impressed with how evenly the whole piece of fish cooked. There were no cold spots in the middle, and the edges were not exaggerated at all. Just moist, flaky salmon all over.
But beyond the texture, I’m excited to report that the taste…
Without marinating, I was really shocked at how much flavor the soy sauce, agave, and seasoned salt mix imparted, especially compared to Stephen King’s version, which was objectively on the bland side. TBH, it’s an excellent reminder that sometimes you don’t need to shake a whole jar of spice mix on your food to make it taste good. The simple, sweet-salty contrast between the soy sauce and the agave made everything irresistible, and honestly never know it’s microwaved if you didn’t tell me.
For a more complete dinner, I ended up flaking the fish over steamed white rice as suggested by David Chang, and topped it with thinly sliced onions and furikake rice seasoning. It was easily the best meal I ate all week, and it must be the fastest I’ve made…all year?!
VERDICT: You have to try this recipe. Not only is it ridiculously easy, it’s also ridiculously delicious. With no sides, the whole thing came together in just over five minutes, and there was no need to wait for appliances or cookware to preheat. The best part: there is little cleaning required. The next time you need a five-minute dinner or want to put as little effort into your meal as possible, it’s David Chang’s salmon.
If you tried this method, let me know what you thought of it. And if you have other cooking methods (or recipes) that are more or less unusual, but completely worth a try, I want to hear about them! Drop them in the comments below. 👇
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