Gochugaru Salmon With Crispy Rice Recipe (2024)

By Eric Kim

Gochugaru Salmon With Crispy Rice Recipe (1)

Total Time
20 minutes
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Gochugaru, a mild, fragrant red-pepper powder, bedazzles this quick salmon dinner. As a key ingredient in Korean home cooking, gochugaru proves that some chiles provide not only heat but fruity sweetness as well. Here, that’s especially true once it’s bloomed in maple syrup, vinegar and butter. If you like shiny things, you may find great pleasure in watching this pan sauce transform into a mirrored, crimson glaze. Try to get long center-cut salmon fillets for uniform thickness and even cooking. Their crispy skin tastes wonderful with white rice, which toasts in the rendered salmon fat. To balance the richness of the fish, serve it with fresh, crunchy things, like cucumbers or pickles, or a big green salad.

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Yield:4 servings

  • 4skin-on salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) and black pepper
  • 1tablespoon olive oil
  • 4cups cooked white rice, preferably leftovers
  • 4teaspoons gochugaru (see Tip)
  • 2tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, kept whole
  • Sliced cucumbers or pickles, for serving (optional)

Ingredient Substitution Guide


Make the recipe with us

  1. Step


    Season the salmon on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the olive oil and sear the salmon fillets skin side down until the skin is browned and crispy, 2 to 5 minutes. The salmon’s orange flesh will begin to turn pale coral as the heat slowly creeps up the sides of the fish; you want that coral color to come up about two-thirds of the way at this point for a nice medium-rare. Carefully flip the salmon and cook the second side until the flesh feels firm, another 1 to 2 minutes. When you press it, it should not feel wobbly. Transfer the salmon to a plate skin side down and keep the pan with the rendered fat over the heat.

  2. Step


    Add the rice to the fat in the pan and spread in an even layer, packing it down as if making a rice pancake. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the bottom is lightly browned and toasted, about 5 minutes. You should hear it crackle. Flip the rice like a pancake, using a spatula if needed. You may not be able to flip it all in one piece, but that’s OK. Cook until lightly toasted on the second side, another 1 to 2 minutes. Go longer if you want crispier rice, but the trifecta of crispy-chewy-soft tastes wonderful.

  3. While the rice is cooking, stir together the gochugaru, maple syrup, rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. When the rice is done, divide it evenly among the plates. In the now-empty pan, add the gochugaru mixture and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until it bubbles up and reduces significantly, 15 seconds to 1 minute. It should look pretty sticky. Turn off the heat and add the cold butter, stirring with a wooden spoon or tongs until fully melted and incorporated into the gochugaru mixture. Pour this glaze over the salmon and serve with cucumbers or pickles, if you’d like.


  • You can find gochugaru, or red-pepper powder, at Korean or Asian supermarkets and at most grocery stores, as well as online. It sometimes comes in larger bags, which is not a problem because it freezes beautifully and tastes great dusted over just about anything.



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Cooking Notes


I just purchased Gochujang concentrated chili paste for another NY Times recent recipe. Would it be possible to substitute the paste for the powder?


Gochujang contains salt and sugar along with red chile, so if you substitute one for the other, you'll want to dial back the sugar and salt. I'd probably omit the maple syrup altogether and replace both it and the gochucharu with 2 tbsp gochujang, and skip extra salt. You'll miss the maple flavor, but the glaze should form up nicely and I'd expect the dish to work well as a whole.


I subbed the Gochugara with Gochujang and reduced the maple syrup to 1 tbsp. Everything else I followed exactly and this was one of the best meals we've made in a long time. it was also easy to prep and clean up. We'll be adding this to the regular rotation!


Rice tip: if you don't have leftover rice, smash your hot, fresh rice onto a plate and stick it in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Cools it down and removes some moisture so it's pretty similar to leftovers.

megan b

Trying not to be overly dramatic here - but this is a pretty life changing salmon dish. Possibly one of the best NYT recipes I’ve tried. Thank you Eric Kim!


Double the sauceDouble the cucumberHalf rice (2 cups)Add a little hot sesame oil and salt to cucumbers


I will make the sauce in a separate pan before cooking and use it to baste the salmon as it cooks. I’ll also mix it in with the rice before frying it for more flavor, also I won’t have to clean a sticky sauce out of my cast iron :)


Roasted salmon at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Mixed together sauce ingredients without cooking, then basted salmon with it after first 10 minutes in oven—it turned into a beautiful, glossy, just sticky enough sauce and saved another pan. Excellent dinner.


This is a very good dish. The sauce recipe NEEDS TO BE DOUBLED to go far enough for four. It barely made three as written and photographed. We will do it again. Not having left over rice we made four cups of Jasmine rice in the rice cooker, let it cool and it worked very well. Ordered the gochugara spice on line. Just fine from Amazon.


I love gochugaru, but I've never experienced it as "mild," and I enjoy chilis of all kinds. The Kimchi that I ferment has quite a kick of heat, which comes from the gochugaru that I use.

Sarah P

Another masterpiece from Erik Kim. That man can do no wrong in our household. We made this dish as written and added some homemade Korean radish kimchi to go with it. Fantastic balance of flavors. 10/10, recommend!


This was so good! Super high flavor to effort ratio, my favorite kind of weeknight recipe. Well-written recipe, easy to follow, short list of ingredients, and tasted great. Wouldn't change a thing, except use 100% leftover rice (I did 50 leftover/50 freshly cooked bc it's what I had) to get some extra crisp factor going on. It makes a difference. Slam dunk, Eric Kim!

gerry in Oregon

I found the gochugaru at a local Asian market. Made this last night with tofu slices baked in panko crumbs (425 degrees-15 min). Served over cauliflower rice with a side of steamed asparagus. A wonderful veggie meal. Doubled the shimmery sauce and made it in a small sauce pan. Next time I will cut the salt in half.


They aren't really interchangeable normally, although a glaze made out of gochugang might also be good. The paste is a fermented mix of chili with glutinous rice and some other stuff. Gochugaru is more like chili powder, but with a smokier and sweeter flavor. My guess is that a mix of chili powder with a bit of smoked paprika would be closer. Just a guess, though.The recipe looks great, and I already planned on salmon tonight!


Just tried this recipe tonight. My son and I were pretty happy with the flavor. I am GF, so i used Gluten Free Gochujang paste (amazon- Yoon Jiyeong Artisanal). This paste is not very spicy, but the flavor is very good. I would add a bit more other smoky hot chili powder to give it a bit more of a kick. Moreover, next time I’d try to use only 1 tbs butter to finish off. I found that (my generous) 2 tbs butter called for separated from the glaze when the fish cooled and made it too ‘greasy’

t. Luckett

Delicious. Followed the recipe as written, but leaving the fish a tiny bit more rare. Absolutely perfect. Tender fish, great balance of mild spice and sweetness. The maple doesn’t really gut through, but the sweetness remains. I think it could probably be closely approximated using agave or honey instead, if needed. Ate with kimchi, to balance out the buttery texture of the fish/sauce.


This made for multiple enjoyable meals for me. I’m the only person in my house who doesn’t love salmon so I make it all the time but rarely love it myself. This is now my favorite way to cook it and I’ll look forward to eating it again. Made more and had leftovers with gim and avocado— delightful. Thank you EK, your recipes are always perfect.


The glaze caramelized up quickly and the sugars burned. When I put it on the fish, it formed a hard candy type shell that you couldn’t get a fork through. We ended up removing it (in one piece!) and nibbling it like a piece of candy. Also thought that the rice came out far too oily from all the fat and didn’t hold together at all, despite that it was sticky sushi rice. Salmon tasted good but could have done without all the rest. Would have been happier with plain salmon and rice.

Cathy G.

This was so easy and delicious! I found the Gochugaru at Whole Fooods.


Yum! Adding this to our weeknight salmon rotation along with Eric Kim’s Doenjang Salmon Rice Bowl (thank you Eric Kim for continuing to introduce me to new delicious ingredients like doenjang and gochugaru) and Melissa Clark’s Vietnamese Caramel Salmon.Easy and delicious. I used a cast iron the first time I made this which ended up too hot and I sort of burnt the glaze (was still delicious, just toffee-like in texture), so I’d recommend a nonstick but could have been user error.

David W

Make the gochugaru vinegar and maple syrup mixed ahead of time, and use 1/2 maple syrup to make it less sweet.


Yum! Used gochugang paste and halved maple syrup. Cooked 12oz salmon, approx. 3 cups of rice (too much) and same amount of sauce. Cooked in cast iron skillet - too hot for sauce.

Kim P

I had to substitute Gochugaru with Gochujang, and it was perfect. I halved the recipe but made the full sauce recipe, and glad I did! I now have leftovers to put on other food this weekend. This sauce is amazing! I served with crispy roasted Brussels sprouts, topped with the sauce, of course.


I can never find thick salmon filets. I have a very good fish market, but the filets are partly thick (but not very) and partly really thin. Is this something I can demand from the fishmonger--thicker salmon filets?

Steve Muni

This was breathtakingly delicious. Eric Kim’s recipes are always delicious and doable for a couple. Recommendations—double the sauce, and I used only 3/4 of the suggested gochugaru which left a pleasant warm heat without being too spicy. My boyfriend loved the dish and asked that I add it to our rotation. Also, to the salted smashed cucumbers, I added a touch of unseasoned rice vinegar, and a touch of sesame oil and soy.

Steve Muni

Oops. I forgot to mention that this resulted in a really good di. My partner said it was one of the best salmon dishes he’d ever had. Thanks to Eric Kim for a wonderful meal that is definitely going into our regular rotation.

Steve Muni

This was really delicious. I agree with doubling the amount of sauce. I also cut back by a quarter on the gochugaru. And to the salted cucumber chunks, I added a teaspoon each of of unseasoned rice vinegar and soy sauce, and half a teaspoon of sesame oil—plus a good shake of gochugaru. I kept the leftover dressing for use on another salad. My partner (and I) loved the dinner and he insisted that it now go in to our regular rotation.


5 Star Recipe. This salmon recipe is my favorite way to eat Salmon now. The flavors melt together in the mouth. Simply, and perfectly delicious.


Fab recipe—“yes! Yes! YES!”Everything about this is tasty and easy. Worth sourcing gochgaru, though we used Aleppo pepper the first time and it was delicious. Am I the last person to find out about Weee! ? We’re lucky enough to have a wonderful little Asian market in town, but it’s too tiny to have everything.

Ann B.

We tried two different brands of Guchujang (Mother in Law's and Taekyung) and both turned out delicious. We ground the dried peppers to make them a little finer and both liked that texture a bit better. We also used a combination of butter & canola oil to reduce the saturated fat, and mirin combined with maple syrup to reduce the sugar a tad. Definitely worth repeating.

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Gochugaru Salmon With Crispy Rice Recipe (2024)


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