Sauce pouring onto a piece of salmon plated with rice pilaf

“Bourbon Old Fashioned” Cocktail Glazed Salmon

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The slightly sweet combination of bourbon, orange, and cherry have kept the Old Fashioned Cocktail in vogue for many years. Here, those flavors are combined into a mouth-watering glaze that is drizzled over top of perfectly cooked salmon fillets.

Cliff Notes:
Brush bourbon on a salmon filet, season with seafood seasoning and orange zest, then bake, skin-side-down at 425° for 4-6 minutes per half-inch of thickness until it reaches an internal temp of 130°. Make glaze by reducing all ingredients except zest until syrupy. Add zest and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Make It Your Own:
– Substitute your favorite variety of Old Fashioned liquor – use bourbon, whiskey or brandy if that’s what you prefer, or a different flavored bourbon (I’ve seen a maple smoked bourbon that would be amazing!)
– For a spicier version, add sliced fresh jalapenos to the glaze. They’ll cook down to a spicy sweet deliciousness.
– This glaze would also be AMAZING on pork or chicken.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, one of the things I look forward to every summer is when Columbia River salmon starts showing up at the fish counter. This Chinook (a.k.a. King) variety of salmon has a bright orange flesh and a relatively high amount of fat that helps to keep it moist and flavorful.

When buying salmon, be sure to talk to the person behind the counter. Ask if it’s wild-caught or farm-raised; has the fish been previously frozen; and how long has the fish been in the case. The unicorn of salmon buying is fresh, wild-caught that arrived in the store that morning.

But, if that’s not available, here’s what I aim for:
Wild-caught, never frozen – this is ideal unless it’s been sitting in the case for a while. If it looks dried out or dull, don’t buy it.
Farm-raised, never frozen – 2nd best, with the same qualifiers as above.
Previously frozen, either wild or fresh – buy only if you’re cooking it that day. Otherwise, buy it frozen and slowly thaw in the fridge. This is the best option to avoid it turning mushy.
– If in doubt about the freshness or firmness of the fish, don’t buy it.

And while I truly enjoy salmon cooked very basically with lemon and butter, I also love to expand the options by adding glazes and sauces, and the bourbon, sugar, and orange flavors of the Old Fashioned cocktail are practically made for salmon. Here, I’m using Brown Sugar Bourbon which includes notes of brown sugar and cinnamon, and takes this glaze over the top! But if you use a more traditional bourbon, just add a couple of tablespoons of raw or brown sugar for a touch of sweetness.

Serve with Orange Scented Rice Pilaf for a super-special meal.

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