Recently, celebrity chef and Momofuku founder David Chang shared a simple weekday salmon recipe with his TikTok followers. For the most part, it seemed simple enough – it’s hard to find fault with a piece of flaky salmon drizzled with a sweet-salty sauce. But the only detail that shocked people was how Chang prepared it: in his microwave.
In the video’s caption, Chang calls the “Chef Mike” (aka microwave) method a “delicious way to cook,” adding that it’s especially useful when you’re pressed for time. “I have very little time to cook dinner for my kids,” he adds, so microwaved salmon seems like a go-to in his house when he needs a satisfying five-minute meal.
Considering David Chang’s prominent position in the food world, there honestly weren’t many commentators in opposition. Some people were concerned about the potential smell of microwave a piece of raw fish, but Chang himself confirmed that there was “no smell”.
Others saw his space-age microwave – I mean, the thing opens up automatically, folks – and assumed the cooking method would only work with his fancy microwave. But he also succeeded in allaying those worries.
Most people were just happy to see a chef as famous as Chang share such a quick and easy recipe like this. Recipes for real busy people! What a concept.
And I, personally, was quite shocked to see a real chef touting the microwave method after writing (and trying!) Stephen King’s microwave salmon recipe earlier this year – which the internet absolutely ripped him for.
Although King’s “recipe” doesn’t exactly sell the method as well as Chang does, I was still totally obsessed when I tried it for myself…and TBH, I’ve done it multiple times since. So I was really curious to compare Chang’s slightly different recipe and preparation to that of the Horror King.
To start, I grabbed the ingredients. According to Chang’s instructions, the only ingredients you’ll need are a salmon fillet, soy sauce (or tamari), seasoned salt, and agave nectar.
STEP 1: I placed the salmon in a microwave safe glass container. This is where Chang’s recipe really differs from King’s – the latter calls for the salmon to be placed on a plate and wrapped in a damp paper towel, so I was curious to see what effect, if any, this method would have on texture…and flavor. odour.
In the original video, David Chang actually uses an Anyday brand microwave-safe cooking vessel, which he works with frequently. If you have over $40 to spend on microwave cookware, go for it! That said, I absolutely don’t want to! So I used a very ordinary glass container with a lid, hoping for equally delicious results.
STEP #2: Next, I poured about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of agave nectar over the salmon.
Chang used his hands to spread the soy sauce mixture around the salmon and ensure it was evenly coated; I used a silicone brush. For your salmon, the choice is yours. You do you.
STEP 3: I evenly sprinkled half a teaspoon of seasoned salt all over the piece of fish.
STEP 4: Nervously, I put this baby in the microwave afterwards freely (vaguely!) by covering the container with a lid.
Chang says three and a half minutes will get you medium-rare salmon, while five minutes will get you something closer to well-done. Hoping for something wet but not enough medium-rare, I opted for four minutes.
STEP #5: When the four minutes were up, I opened my microwave door to find a perfectly pink piece of fish and a thick, bubbly sauce. Even better: there was hardly any fishy smell to be found.
Unlike king salmon, which was simply seasoned with slices of lemon and olive oil, I found the soy sauce actually made the microwaved fish smell really nice and flavorful. Like, I kind of enjoyed the smell emanating from my microwave, if I’m being perfectly honest.
I let the salmon rest for exactly one minute, according to the instructions. Then, to test its doneness, I used an instant-read thermometer to measure the temperature. As if by magic, it registered at a perfect medium for salmon: 135ºF.
When I dipped in with a fork to see how things turned out, texture-wise, I was pleased to see it was as tender as King’s recipe, if not more so. I was also very impressed with the even cooking of the whole piece of fish. There were no cold spots in the middle and the edges weren’t exaggerated at all either. Just moist, flaky salmon throughout.
But beyond the texture, I’m delighted to report that the taste…
Without any marinade, I was really shocked at the amount of flavor imparted by the mixture of soy sauce, agave and seasoned salt, especially compared to Stephen King’s version which was objectively bland. TBH, this is a great reminder that sometimes you don’t have to shake an entire jar of a spice blend over your food to make it taste good. The simple, sweet and salty contrast between the soy sauce and the agave made it all irresistible, and honestly, I’d rather never know it was made in the microwave if you haven’t told me.
For a fuller dinner, I ended up crumbled the fish over steamed white rice, per David Chang’s suggestion, and topped with sliced green onions and rice furikake seasoning. It was hands down the best meal I’ve had all week, and definitely the fastest I’ve had all year?!
THE VERDICT: You have to try this recipe. Besides being ridiculously easy, it’s also ridiculously delicious. Not counting the sides, it all came together in just over five minutes, with no need to wait for appliances or cookware to preheat. The best part: there’s virtually no cleanup involved. The next time you need a five-minute dinner or want to put in the least amount of effort to prepare the meal, it’s David Chang’s salmon.
If you try this method, let me know what you think. And if you have other cooking methods (or recipes) that are more or less atypical but totally worth a try, I want to hear about it! Drop them in the comments below. 👇