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Problem with Ina Garten's Recipe for Salmon

Hi there. I'm wondering if anyone's successfully made Ina Garten's recipe called "Eli's Asian Salmon." I followed the instructions to the letter but ended up with a highly concentrated topping that was so overwhelmingly salty that my guests had to wipe it off so that the fish would be edible. (Fortunately, everyone agreed the salmon beneath the disastrous panko-sauce topping was yummy!)

Did I do something wrong? Is the recipe off or missing a step? I thought an entire cup of soy sauce seemed like a lot, but I trusted Ina and it looked scrumptious when she made it on her show. Any ideas of what might have gone wrong would be appreciated!

Here's the recipe:


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  1. I recently had this dish at a dinner party and EVERYONE including me Loved it!! I can tell you that the hostess did not follow the recipe exactly. She used mustard flavored panko from Whole Foods and sub'd something(can't remember what) for the chili sauce. I'll have to ask her if she scaled down the soy sauce. She's a Nutritionist so I bet she did. I have the recipe and look forward to making it soon.

    1. I saw Ina make it on her show and I remember thinking, ugh, that's going to be salty. I would think 1 cup of soy is too much because along with the soy, you're getting salt from the oyster sauce and fish sauce. (In some Asian cooking, if you use fish sauce, you don't use soy sauce.) I would cut back on the soy, for sure.

      1. i make this recipe all the time! it has taken some adjusting and i am a total salt FIEND. lately i have been leaving the fish sauce out entirely and taking the soy sauce down by 1/4. also, when she tells you to ladle as much of the sauce back onto the panko as possible- skip that part. just as long as all of the panko is soaked in the sauce it will be delicious. the secret to this recipe is a smokin' hot oven before you put it in, otherwise the crust will never brown up the way it should.

        good luck!

        1. I love Ina, but she uses, for me, anyway, too much salt in her recipes. I season to taste. Sounds as if the other posters have modified her salmon recipe as well. Try it again, but use your own tastebuds to guide you!

          1. I belong to a food message board, where we try different recipes from Ina Garten.

            Most people there making any of her recipes, advise to cut the amount of salt in half.
            And Eli's Asian Salmon is a favorite at the board, although I haven't made it myself.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mcel215

              mcel125, what food message board is that? I love Ina's recipes, sounds like a great idea!

              1. re: newfoodie

                My email address is on my profile. Email me and I'll tell you about it. :)

            2. I just made this recipe last night with modifications suggested here and on the Food Network website. I bought the the mustard panko because that was all that my Whole Foods had. I also left out the oyster sauce and scaled back on the soy sauce.

              The fish came out perfectly with a nice crust and flaky fish inside. I skipped the foil wrapping so that some of the liquid would evaporate. With these modifications, I thought it was great. We even have plenty of leftovers for lunches.

              1. jfood did not read you full post but went to the recipe and his first thought was wow a lot of salt. start with soy and add fish and oyster sauce = too salty.

                Jfood would also consider using low-NA soy and not soaking the panko. She seemed obsessed with the soaked panko on this one. Not soaking may lead to a very dark panko with the timing in the oven, so you may also consider placingthe panko on top halfway through the baking.

                1. I know this is an old thread, but the OP's dinner party "surprise" is a prime example of why you should not cook a dish for the first time for guests and use them as the guinea pigs.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: SQHD

                    Also why the worshipful esteem in which celebrity chefs are held is so often misplaced. Not having cable, I haven't been exposed to most of them but when I read their "amazing" recipes I am amazed that they are taking credit for essentially vernacular preparations. It seems one can recycle recipes into one's own cookbook without fear of plagiarism accusations.

                  2. Unfortunately I am not a fish lover, but I do really like this recipe. Yes, it is salty. I have made it several times but am glad to hear I'm not the only one who thinks the saltiness needs to be cut. In my opinion, I would not skip the step of soaking the panko with the sauce, though. I think it makes for a tasty topping - maybe that's why I like it!

                    1. I wrote down the recipe while watching the show. According to my notes, she said to add SWEET lemon juice. So I added sugar to the lemon juice until it was sweet. This offsets the saltiness.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Maritwo

                        Many of the reviews of this recipe on the food network boards say it's just awful. I've never seen another recipe of hers slammed so badly, in fact. I love everything of hers that I've tried but avoided this recipe because it seemed way too fussy for good fish and I didn't think I'd like the topping texture.


                      2. I've made this recipe several times and it's always a hit. Based on the posts on the Food Network's site, I reduced the amount of soy sauce (though only by a little; I don't remember how much). I always use low-sodium soy sauce, though, so that helps a lot. Also, I basically just marinate the salmon, then sprinkle the panko on top before putting it in the oven -- so the salmon gets a nice crisp crust, rather than a soggy mess on top.

                        1. I saw her (Ina) make her salmon dish, listened to her go on about how wonderful the salmon is and then watched this continual pouring of salty stuff.
                          But even so, here's the confusing part. On TV she had a huge piece of salmon. She said that it was 3lbs, and she cut it into either4 or 6 oz strips, and they looked larger than 6 oz.
                          Anyway if you do the math, it doesn't add.
                          She also had salmon, I beleive two more strips left in the pan that said she was going to make a salad with it the next day.
                          Okay my point is the recipe you have is for much more salmon than she made on the show, and there's no way it would be edible. Her recipe that's listed here is even more confusing, its for 2 1/4 lbs. I think firstly there's an editing error, secondly, the recipe is overwhelmingly salty laden.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            Contessa's Kitchen is a food board which is devoted to all things Ina. I know this recipe has been reviewed by many members. Much like this board, input from home cooks.

                            google it

                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                The discussion on the food board has a lot of complaints about the mess it made.
                                Her recipes are usually 100% slam dunk successes. It's the Barefoot Contessa board at foodnetwork.com

                                1. re: mcf

                                  oh okay. I rarely rely on that board, seems it has its problems with trolls.

                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                    I've also noticed that many of the recipes on the Food Network site are actually different from what is presented on the show.. and many of their posted recipes contain errors.

                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                      I bleong to that board and don't know what you mean about having trolls.

                                      People give good feedback about her recipes there and most say "cut way back on the salt". Otherwise it get 'outstanding' reviews.

                                      And the board is a private board, you need to give some personal info to become a member. There are some wonderful cooks and bakers on it, so I do glean some info from there.

                            1. It's a unbalanced recipe, IMO, the seasoning (soy) are way over the top for the amount of salmon. The instructions for flavoring the panko are not so well thought through, either. I think FN and Ina should review the recipe, the comments, and make some necessary adjustments.
                              With the reduction of soy and a using different method with the panko to get a nice crunchy crust, I could see the dish being very tasty.

                              1. Hi, I followed her recipe to the tee with exception to the rice wine vinegar. I used white wine/rice vinegar mix (couldnt fine it!)...anyway, it was absolutely FANTASTIC. My dinner guests could not stop making noises of pleasure!!! Not sure what happened but maybe if you try it again it will work out?? Good Luck!