Make one of my favorite sushi dishes at home for a quick and easy meal paired with sushi rice.
In this Japanese preparation sushi grade salmon is thinly sliced and quickly seared using a kitchen torch until the top is just cooked. I top it off with a splash of ponzu sauce, a sprinkle of green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
This seared salmon sushi recipe also known as salmon aburi is one of my most popular dishes on social media and I’m finally adding a recipe! When I used to visit my uncle he would make this for us as a snack and I’ve been making it ever since. It’s always a hit whether I’m serving it as a first course appetizer or as a quick, simple entrée. While it is often served as nigiri – a slice of fish over rice – instead I opt to lay the fish out on a plate like sashimi or a crudo. I like to serve it with a side of rice, avocado or cucumber salad.
Aburi is a Japanese preparation of fish sushi quickly broiled using a blow torch/ kitchen torch. The word “aburi” means “flame seared” in Japanese. The technique is used to gently sear the surface of the fish to create a contrast in texture of a grilled surface and creamy, raw underside of the fish.
Using a Kitchen Torch
I recommend using this kitchen torch found here . I have tried several and this is my favorite since it is more powerful than others (which can be about as weak as a lighter) making it easy to quickly sear the top of the salmon. The kitchen torch is filled with butane. Because it is seared quickly (think like creme brûlée), the fish does not take on the flavor of the butane. When torching the fish, be sure to do it on a heatproof plate or surface. If your torch is not very strong (meaning it will take longer to cook the fish), I recommend placing the fish over ice before touching it so it doesn’t overcook or overheat.
Key ingredients in This Recipe
Salmon – While this can be done with other fish, the fatty salmon is perfect for this dish. I thinly slice the salmon then lay it out and torch it.
Ponzu – Ponzu is a citrus based Japanese sauce made with soy sauce, citrus (commonly lemon or lime), katsuobushi (also known as bonito flakes), kombu (a type of kelp) and rice vinegar.
Green onion – The lower, white parts of the green onions contain the most intense flavor. They are usually used for cooking while the upper green parts have a more subtle flavor and are used as a garnish. I thinly slice both and serve over the top of the dish.
Sesame seeds – Toasted sesame seeds are used as more of a garnish and add a bit of texture rather than being used to flavor the recipe. If you don’t have toasted sesame seeds simply add them to a nonstick sauté pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds turn a uniform golden brown color. Immediately remove them to a bowl to cool.
Using Raw Fish
While it can seem intimidating since you are working with raw fish (as long as you buy fresh high-quality ingredients) there is no reason for it to be daunting.
Ask your fishmonger for sushi grade fish, they should be able to provide much more information about whether their fish can be eaten raw. If they don’t know then that is a red flag within itself.
It is important to make note of how long the store or fishmonger has had the fish. I buy the sushi-grade fish from my local seafood market the day of, or day before, making dinner as fresh as possible. All fish that is going to be eaten raw should be previously frozen. This kills any harmful parasites.
Where to Buy Sushi Grade Fish
At your local fish market. Many fish markets offer selections of fresh fish like tuna or salmon that can be used for spicy tuna crispy rice. Ask your fishmonger for more advice! They are a great resource.
At a Japanese market. Many markets sell pre-packaged cuts of sushi-grade tuna in the refrigerated section. This keeps it easy for use in this recipe!
Buy online. If you don’t have a place to buy fresh high-quality fish locally, I recommend ordering online. There are plenty of places where you can get fish shipped quickly – I particularly like Honolulu Fish Co. also available on Goldbelly.
How to Make Seared Salmon Sushi (Aburi)
Arrange the salmon. Arrange the salmon on a large platter or serving plate so the pieces are touching.
Sear the salmon. Use the kitchen torch on high to quickly sear the salmon so just the top is cooked and lightly browned.
Garnish and serve. Sprinkle with the ponzu over the seared salmon sushi, then top with the green onions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately on its own or with rice with avocado and cucumber salad.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this salmon aburi recipe, I recommend checking out these: