• Yield: 6 servings

I like to use sockeye salmon for this dish -- its firm flesh and rich flavors are perfect for steaming.

Try saying it fast a few times.

You could, of course, use other types of salmon, and steaming is a good technique for firm-fleshed fish such as ling cod or halibut. Chinese bamboo steamers work well and are not very expensive, though any steamer setup is fine. I love the aromatic steam you get in this method of cooking: The water's beautiful aroma really permeates the salmon.

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, split lengthwise

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 cups sake

  • 10 fresh ginger coins, sliced 1/8 inch thick

  • 2 star anise pods

  • Peel of 1 orange

  • 1-1/2 pounds salmon fillet, cut into 6 portions

  • Sake Butter (recipe follows)

  • 1 lime cut into 6 wedges

Bruise the lemongrass with the back of a knife to help release the aromatics. Set up your steamer: We use a large saucepan or a wok with a Chinese bamboo steamer set over it. Place the lemongrass, water, sake, ginger, star anise, and orange peel in the bottom of the steamer. Bring to a boil. Lay the salmon fillets in the steamer basket and cover with the steamer lid. Steam until the salmon is just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.


On the Plate: Place a salmon fillet on each plate. Spoon some sake butter over each portion of fish. Garnish with a lime wedge. Serve with Crispy Sesame Rice Cakes or Aromatic Steamed Rice and steamed baby bok choy.


In the Glass: Nigori sake or a classic Oregon Pinot Gris

Sake Butter
Makes 2/3 cup


It is worthwhile to buy a premium sake for this sauce. We use Momokawa Silver, ajunmai, or pure rice sake. This is also delicious on steamed halibut or ling cod.

Beurre blanc is a classic French butter sauce. It is delicate and will "break" or look curdled if you keep it over direct heat for too long. The best ways to keep a beurre blanc warm is to either place the container in a saucepan of hot (not simmering) water for a half hour or so, or pour it directly into a small Thermos and screw the cover on. The Thermos method will keep the beurre blanc warm for an hour or more.

  • 2 tablespoons peeled and julienned ginger

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon quality sake (Momokawa)

  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into large dice

  • 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

  • Kosher salt

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, sweat the ginger and shallots in the one tablespoon butter for two to three minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the sake, bring to a boil, and reduce by two-thirds, about three minutes. Add the heavy cream, bring to a boil, and reduce by half, about two minutes. Add the pieces of cold butter to the sauce, bit by bit, whisking constantly over medium-high heat. The butter will emulsify, creating a thick creamy sauce. Once all the butter has been incorporated, remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the remaining one teaspoon sake and the lime juice. Season to taste with salt.

Adapted from Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen, William Morrow Cookbooks 2000.