Recently, celebrity chef and Momofuku founder David Chang shared a simple weeknight salmon recipe with his TikTok followers. For the most part, it seemed pretty straightforward — it’s hard to find fault in a piece of flaky salmon doused in a savory-sweet sauce. But the one 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 of cooking,” adding that it’s especially helpful when you’re pressed for time. “I have very little time to get dinner on the table for my kids,” he adds, so microwaved salmon appears to be a go-to in his house when he needs a satisfying five-minute meal.
Considering David Chang’s prominent position within the food world, there honestly weren’t many commenters in opposition. Some folks were concerned about the potential smell of microwaving a piece of raw fish, but Chang confirmed that there was “no smell.”
Others saw his space-age microwave — I mean, the thing opens automatically, people — and assumed that the cooking method would only work with his fancy microwave. But he was able to quell those worries, too.
Most people were just happy to see a chef as well-known as Chang sharing a recipe as time-conscious and simple as this one. Recipes for real, busy people! What a concept.
And I, personally, was pretty shocked to see an current chef touting the microwave method after I wrote about (and tried!) Stephen King’s microwave salmon recipe earlier this year – that the internet absolutely tore him apart for.
While King’s “recipe” didn’t exactly sell the method as well as Chang did, I was still totally obsessed when I tried it for myself…and TBH, I’ve made it several times since. So I was genuinely curious to put Chang’s slightly-different recipe and preparation up against the King of Horror’s.
To start, I grabbed the ingredients. Based on Chang’s instructions, the only ingredients you’ll need are a salmon filet, some soy sauce (or tamari), seasoned salt, and agave nectar.
STEP #1: I placed the salmon into a microwave-safe glass food storage 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 the texture…and smell.
In the original video, David Chang actually uses a microwave-safe cooking vessel from the brand Anyday, who he frequently works with. If you have $40+ to spend on microwave cookware, go for it! That said, I very much do not! So I used a very regular glass food storage container with a lid, hoping to get similarly 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 smoosh the soy sauce mixture around the salmon and make sure it was evenly coated; I used a silicone brush. For your salmon, the choice is yours. You do you.
STEP #3: I evenly sprinkled a 1/2 teaspoon or so of seasoned salt all over the piece of fish.
STEP #4: Nervously, I popped this baby into the microwave after loosely (loosely!) covering the container with a lid.
Chang specifies that 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 moist but not quite 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, bubbling sauce. Even better: There was hardly any fishy smell to be found.
Unlike King’s salmon, which was simply seasoned with sliced lemon and olive oil, I found that the soy sauce actually lent a really pleasant, savory smell to the microwaved fish. Like, I kind of enjoyed the scent emanating from my microwave, if I’m being perfectly honest.
I let the salmon rest for precisely one minute, per the instructions. Then, to test its doneness, I used an instant-read thermometer to gauge the temperature. As if by magic, it registered at a perfect medium for salmon: 135ºF.
When I dove in with a fork to see how things turned out, texture-wise, I was pleased to see that it was just as tender as the King’s recipe — if not more so. I was also really impressed by just how evenly the entire piece of fish cooked. There were no cold spots in the middle and the edges weren’t at all overdone, either. Just moist, flaky salmon all the way through.
But beyond the texture, I’m thrilled to report that the taste…
Without any marinating, I was truly shocked at just how much flavor was imparted by the soy sauce, agave, and seasoned salt mixture, especially compared to Stephen King’s version which was objectively on the bland side. TBH, it’s an excellent reminder that sometimes you don’t need to shake an entire jar of a spice blend onto your food to make it taste good. The simple, sweet-savory contrast between the soy sauce and agave made the whole thing irresistible, and honestly, I would never know it was made in the microwave if you didn’t tell me.
For a more complete dinner, I ended up flaking the fish over some steamed white rice, by David Chang’s suggestion, and topped it with some thinly-sliced scallions and furikake rice seasoning. It was easily the best meal I ate all week, and it’s certainly the quickest one I’ve made…all year?!
THE VERDICT: You’ve gotta try this recipe. Beyond being ridiculously easy, it’s also ridiculously delicious. Not including any sides, the whole thing came together in just over five minutes, with no need to wait for any appliances or pieces of cookware to preheat. The best part: There’s hardly any cleanup involved. The next time you need a five-minute dinner or feel like putting in the absolute least amount of effort into the meal you’re cooking, David Chang’s salmon it is.
If you try this method, let me know what you thought of it. And if you have any other cooking methods (or recipes) that are more or less unconventional but totally worth trying, I want to hear about them! Drop ’em in the comments below. 👇