Maple-Soy Cured Salmon Belly

I had a piece of Alaskan King salmon belly left from the salmon tartare cornets I made the other day, so I placed it in a mixture of maple syrup and dark soy sauce and left it to cure for 24 hours. The next day I cooked it in the Sous Vide Supreme at 50′ C for 15 minutes and grilled it quickly over Japanese Binchō-tan charcoal. I think this was the most delicious salmon I ever had. Moist, flaky and succulent in the inside with the perfect balance of salty and sweet and the smokey char and light caramelization from the grill on the outside. I finished it up with fleur de sel and a stir-fry of soy beans, boiled peanuts, shimeji mushrooms and pickled eggplant with a soy-ginger vinaigrette.

Binchō-tan charcoal is a high-quality white charcoal from Japan made from oak and usually used for yakitori. It is more expensive but worth every penny for the flavor it imparts the food.

I did manage to smoke-up the whole house to get the first shot, even though I was in a well ventilated place and only used a small amount of charcoal. I know this might seem obvious to you but just remember you can’t use your outdoor grill inside in the winter, even in your garage, as they produce large amounts of carbon monoxide. Do the grilling on your doorsteps instead to be safe unless you have a commercial grade exhaust system. This is coming from a well-trained culinary acrobat with a taste for danger [cough-cough]. If you live in California or any warm weather place, as many of you who read this blog, I envy you!

  • Maple-Soy Cured Salmon Belly

    • Serves 4
    • For the cured salmon belly:
    • 1 lb King salmon belly
    • 1/4 cup dark amber maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • For the stir-fry + soy ginger vinaigrette:
    • 4 ounces soy beans, blanched
    • 4 ounces boiled peanuts
    • 4 ounces shimeji mushrooms
    • pickled eggplant
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • ¼ cup rice vinegar
    • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
    • ¼ cup soy sauce
    • 1– inch piece fresh ginger – peeled and finely grated
    • ½ cup peanut oil
    • To finish the dish:
    • 1 charcoal grill
    • Binchō-tan charcoal
    • Fleur de sel
    • For the cured salmon belly:
    • Combine the soy sauce and the maple syrup in a small bowl. Place the salmon belly in a vacuum or ziploc bag and pour the mixture on top. Seal and marinate for 24 hours.
    • For the stir-fry + soy ginger vinaigrette:
    • In a stir-fry pan heat some peanut oil and combine the blanched soy beans, the boiled peanuts and the shimeji mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the pickled eggplant (found at Japanese stores) and cook for a few seconds more. Keep warm.
    • Combine the rice vinegar, the maple syrup, the soy sauce and the grated ginger in a small bowl. Add the peanut oil and whisk until emulsified.
    • To finish the dish:
    • Prepare a charcoal grill in a well ventilated place. When the fire has subsided and the coals are red hot place a grill on top.
    • Discard the salmon marinade and place the salmon belly in a vacuum seal bag. Vacuum on low. Preheat a water bath to 122’F (50’C) and place the pouch in the water for 20 minutes. (That step is optional but will produce a perfectly moist salmon on the inside, you can otherwise cook the salmon on the grill all the way).
    • Grill the salmon on the hot coals until nicely caramelized on the outside. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.
    • Serve with the soy bean stir-fry and the soy-ginger vinaigrette on the side.
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  • Soma Sengupta

    This looks great.  Thanks!

  • Stacey Snacks

    Yes, Zen CAN cook.
    Happy New Year.  Where the heck do I get salmon belly?  I want it!
    Best, Stace

  • Oui, Chef

    I am not even a fan of salmon and I am drooling over this one.  Simply gorgeous food and photos, of course, we expect no less of Zen.

  • Cucina49

    That looks phenomenal…and since Alaskan king salmon is a very easy ingredient to access for me, I should really try this.  Looks delicious!

  • mayssam

    Salmon and maple, one of the most delicious combination of flavors ever. Looks absolutely delicious!

  • Anonymous

    Chef, is it possible to create this recipe using standard salmon filets and not bellies? I don’t have access to salmon belly. What modifications, if any, would be needed? Would the SV times change?

  • Adelina Badalyan

    Hi Zen,

    Wanted to wish you Happy Holidays and wish you great food and beautiful life in the year ahead and more.  I had not been visiting for quite some time and looks like I missed out a whole lot.  All of your posts make me awe at my computer screen. Gorgeous!

  • foodalogue

    Exquisite! Food, preparation, presentation, and photography…pinning!

  • Carolyn Jung

    Love that dramatic first photo. Mmm, salmon is my fave fish, especially when wild Alaskan salmon is in season. It’s THE best. 😉

  • Anonymous

    Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Stacey. Happy New Year to you too! You can find salmon belly at Mitsuwa in NJ. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Steve. This was so rich it almost felt like I was eating bone marrow. Seriously. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t know that salmon and maple would work together, but it did. I guess chefs in Canada do that combo all the time. 

  • Anonymous

    Yes, it would work just as well with regular salmon. The perfect core temperature for salmon is 50’C so depending on the thickness of your filet it would take between 12 and 20 minutes to get there. Since you’re finishing it up on the grill I would do 15 minutes sous-vide + grilling. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for stopping by, Adelina. And Happy Holidays to you too! 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much! :)

  • Anonymous

    Tell me about the drama. I almost had to call the fire department to get that shot. 😉

  • kitchenriffs

    Great light on the smoke on the first picture!  That’s not the easiest shot to make – great job.  And I really like the flavor combo of the maple syrup and dark soy sauce.  That’s not something I’ve had before, and I doubt if it’d ever occur to me to try it.  But thinking about it, it’s a natural.  Thanks!


    That looks incredible. I’m loving your black backgrounds as of late. But mostly still just drooling over the food…

  • Grubarazzi

    You take the most beautiful pictures. It helps me imagine how wonderful this has to taste!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! Maple syrup and soy sauce are like the ying and the yang. They complete each other. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! As long as you like it I’ll keep cooking. :) 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you!

  • Frank A Fariello Jr

    This is a true work of art—both the food and the photo.

  • Justin

    That looks so good, the photos are beautiful. If only I had the means to cook sous vide.

  • A-schmidt

    What is the grill you cooking the belly called???

  • Peter Minaki

    You should emphasize that salmon belly is best for this method because of the extra fat and that it will withstand your procedures. Sublime, Stephane…sublime.

  • Mjskit

    WOW! Not much more to say that hasn’t already been said! Fabulous!

  • Anonymous

    It’s called “Hibachi”. 

  • Chris Chang

    That looks freaking amazing!! Is it possible to skip the sous vide part of it? I don’t have a means of doing that…

  • Anonymous

    Check out Sous-Vide Supreme website. They make it affordable for the home cooks. 

  • Anonymous

    True, but I realize not everyone has access to salmon belly. I think salmon filet would produce good results too. Thank you, Petahhh!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! Yes, just skip that step and increase time on the grill. 

  • Jennifer (Delicieux)

    Absolutely gorgeous photos!!!! I love the photo of the smoke coming off the salmon!!! And that last shot with the stir fry is amazing too.  Simply stunning photos.  Zen can cook and Zen can photograph too!

  • eimi

    This is delightful. Visual feast :)
    One day I will be able to cook like this!!

  • Anonymous

    If zen can cook, so can you! 😛 

  • Anonymous

    Oh I try sometimes. :) Thank you very much!

  • http://www.stirthepots.come/ Jeremy

    That looks terrific, I just got a vacuum sealer from Costco…now I got to learn how to cook in the bag!

  • Anonymous

    Jeremy is joining the dark side!!

  • Jim

    Just made this last night, well, the salmon part of it, and just filet, can’t find belly.  Anyway, that marinade is fantastic, and I’m thinking the soy sauce kind of brines the salmon, as it didn’t get the albumen you sometimes get.  Or it could be because of the 122 degree sous vide temp, which I used.  My new go-to way of making salmon!

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks Jim!

  • Personal Trainer Orange County

    This is awesome but is it doesn’t bad for health and gain our belly fat and weight, so I think we must has to be avoid of this to be healthy and fit but can take in a limit.

  • Matias Zakrisson

    Very nice pictures!

  • fendi

    Hi zen lovely post on the salmon. I am wondering whether you use chinese soya sauce or japanese soya sauce. And whether dark amber maple syrup differ from normal maple syrup you use for pancakes thx