Apr 10, 2024

Spicy Salmon Tartare

Prep Time: 10 minutes
This quick and easy appetizer is made from raw salmon (or another fish like tuna or yellowtail) combined with mayo, sambal oelek and tempura flakes. 
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This version of spicy salmon tartare is inspired by Yama Sushi in Denville, NJ – my family’s favorite sushi spot that even happens to have a roll named after my family, the “Happy-Mazon roll”! I love to make this for a quick lunch or appetizer – it can be served on its own paired with avocado or over sushi rice for a more complete and filling meal. Also, I serve it with a small dish of soy sauce on the side for dipping. 

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. The fish should be flash frozen (to kill any parasites before use) to make it safe for eating. I’ve included my tips below for sourcing the best fish for consuming raw. 

Spicy Salmon Tartare 

sliced salmon for Spicy Salmon Tartare.

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Salmon – Look for salmon with a firm feel and bright color. I recommend using the fish within 24 hours of purchasing it.
  • Soy sauce – Adding a bit of soy sauce to the tartare mixture in addition to serving some on the side for dipping adds a more complex flavor to the appetizer. I recommend using low-sodium soy sauce so the salt can be adjusted as needed. 
  • Mayonnaise – Kewpie Mayonnaise, a Japanese mayo, is richer and tangier than typical American store bought mayonnaise. It can be found in most grocery stores, Asian markets or online here. If needed you can easily swap American mayonnaise in its place.
  • Sambal oelek – Sambal oelek can be found in the international sections of most grocery stores. Also, it is a spicy Southeast Asian chili sauce that adds a sweet and spicy kick to any foods. Substitute with sriracha if you cannot find sambal.
  • Sesame seeds –  Toasted sesame seeds add a bit of texture and are used to garnish this dish. 
  • Tempura flakes/ panko – I love using tempura flakes or crumbs, called tenkasu, because the bigger pieces of fried tempura batter are roughly the size of a rice krispie and add more crunch. If you can’t find them, don’t worry, using panko breadcrumbs will still add a satisfying crunch to the mixture.  
  • Orange zest – A bit of orange zest adds a subtle orange flavor that compliments the salmon. 

How to Make Salmon Tartare

tartare ingredients for Spicy Salmon Tartare.
Step 1: Mix tartare ingredients.

Add the salmon, mayonnaise, sambal oelek, soy sauce, sesame seeds, orange zest and green onion to a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Step 2: Add crunch. 

Then, add the tempura flakes or panko and stir to combine.

tartare ingredients with tempura flakes for Spicy Salmon Tartare.
served Spicy Salmon Tartare.
Step 3: Assemble and serve. 

Use a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter and spoon the mixture inside for an even circle (optional). Also, top with the avocado and salmon roe (if using). Serve the spicy salmon tartare immediately.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

Where to find sushi grade fish 
  • At your local fish market. Many fish markets offer high-quality selections of fresh fish like tuna or salmon that can be consumed raw. Then, ask your fishmonger for more advice! So, 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. So, 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. or Goldbelly.
Serving suggestions
  • On its own. Serve on its own or accompanied as a simple and refreshing raw appetizer. You can also pair it with crispy rice chips.  
  • Over rice. Also, you can serve as a lunch over a bowl of greens like arugula and sushi rice seasoned with mirin and sliced avocado and cucumber. 
  • Over crispy rice. Swap out the spicy shrimp salad on crispy rice recipe for this spicy salmon tartare. 
Swaps and substitutions
  • While I love using salmon (my favorite raw fish), you can also use other sushi-grade raw fish like ahi tuna or yellowtail.  
  • If you aren’t a fan of raw fish or don’t have access to high-quality raw fish, try this version using smoked salmon here
  • The sambal oelek can be substituted for sriracha. 
top view of food served.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this spicy salmon tartare recipe, give these a try: 

Spicy Salmon Tartare

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Serves 2


  • ¼ pound sushi-grade salmon, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon Kewpie mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoons sambal oelek
  • 1 teaspoons soy sauce, plus additional for serving
  • 1 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 medium green onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tempura flakes/ panko
  • 1 medium Hass avocado, pitted, peeled and cubed
  • Salmon roe, for serving (optional)


  • Add the salmon, mayonnaise, sambal oelek, soy sauce, sesame seeds, orange zest and green onion to a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  • Add the tempura flakes or panko and stir to combine.
  • Use a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter and spoon the mixture inside for an even circle (optional). Top with the avocado and salmon roe (if using). Serve immediately.



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