I have a bit of a reputation among my family and friends for not listening to recipes when they call for specific amounts of garlic or alcohol. If a recipe asks for two cloves of garlic, I usually add four. If it calls for a tablespoon of whisky, I might also add four. I once entered a tray of homemade rum balls in a holiday baking contest, and everyone who tried them got a little tipsy. (I still think I should have won.)
I’ve reined in that tendency in recent years, but I still love the kick, sweetness, and depth of flavor that a splash of whiskey or sherry can give to a sweet or savory dish, like this gorgeous baked salmon glazed with brown sugar and bourbon.
The bourbon sauce is the star of this recipe. It’s used to marinate the salmon, and then it’s cooked down and used as a sticky-sweet glaze that will make your salmon look like a candy bar (in a good way). And the sauce is mostly brown sugar and soy sauce, but a small splash of bourbon gives the sauce depth and brings in an array of flavors without having to measure out a dozen different spices.
Make the marinade first. Combine brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, and black pepper with bourbon. Put fresh salmon fillets in a large zip-top bag and pour half the sauce on top of it. Squeeze any excess air out of the bag, seal it, and let the fish marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Simmer the rest of the marinade in a saucepan until it reduces and thickens a bit. Then toast some pecans while you wait for the salmon to finish marinating. Spread the chopped pecans on a baking sheet covered with foil or parchment paper and toast them for about three to five minutes. They should darken a bit and the author says they’ll smell very good, but keep an eye on them, because nuts can burn quickly.
Put the salmon skin-side down in a baking dish, and throw away the rest of the marinade. Cover the salmon in pecans, and you can press them down a bit into the salmon to keep them from rolling away. Spoon about a third of the glaze over the salmon and let it bake until the salmon flakes easily. The author says that should take about 20 to 25 minutes. To build up the glaze and take advantage of all the great flavors in the sauce, re-glaze the salmon every eight to 10 minutes while it cooks.
Serve the salmon with a simple roasted vegetable on the side.
Get the recipe: Bourbon Brown Sugar Salmon from The Cookie Rookie
More Delicious Salmon Recipes from Kitchn
- 5-Ingredient Honey-Glazed Salmon
- Trader Joe’s Sheet Pan Crispy Salmon & Veggies
- Easy 5-Ingredient Teriyaki Salmon
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