Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks

Good morning! I’m not sure what it’s like where you live, but New York is like a rain forest today! There is a fine mist drifting over the city, making it impossible to walk without, say, getting your glasses completely coated by rain. The umbrellas, they do nothing! It’s really the most obnoxious form of weather, and for some reason, it’s been happening at least once a week for the past few months, if not more. It stopped being funny a long time ago, Earth, so knock it off. I have to get to work!

Now that I look back on it, I seem to really love cooking with bourbon or whisky. I guess that Kramer and I love a nice glass of either after a hard day’s work, so why not add it to my food, too? I figure, since salmon is so healthy, what with all of the omega-3 fatty acids and everything, it needed to get a little tipsy. I would have loved to throw this fish on the grill, but, seeing as how my tiny Brooklyn balcony won’t really allow for a grill, this is the next best thing. The glaze is absolute perfection; sweet, but not too sweet, ever so slightly rich, and just the right amount of tangy. Bourbon was just meant to be paired with molasses, don’t you think? If you don’t like bourbon, well, this isn’t the recipe for you, but if you’re trying to convince the whisky-lover in your life to eat more healthily, this is a great place to start! I had to add the crispy leeks on top, of course, not only for some texture, but also because leeks are so delicious right now! I love the way they combine the starchiness of a potato with the savoriness of an onion. You can use onions, green onions, or shallots, of course, but if you don’t cook with leeks all that often, I really hope you’ll pick some up! They crisp up beautifully with a little butter and white wine, and add a pop of flavor to each bite of tender salmon.

Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks
Your ingredients.

Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks
Thinly slice your leeks.

Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan, then add your thinly sliced leeks. Cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, until caramelized and slightly crisp, stirring often. Add the wine when they are about 8-10 minutes away from being finished, and allow to mostly reduce.

Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks
Combine your sauce ingredients and cook over medium-high heat until reduced and slightly thickened, about 10-12 minutes, stirring often.

Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks
Rub your salmon with salt and pepper.

Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks
Place your salmon on a lined baking sheet sprayed lightly with Pam (on top of a cooling rack, if you have one), brush lightly with the sauce, and bake at 450 degrees F for 3 minutes on each side, then take out and brush with a bit more, then put it back in for another minute or two, until the salmon reads 135 degrees F and the sauce has slightly caramelized.

Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks
I like my salmon more on the medium rare side, but you can cook it until it has reached your desired texture.

Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks

Sweet Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Crispy Leeks
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ⅓ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1½ teaspoons country dijon (or another grainy) mustard
  • ½ teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 2 salmon filets
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 3 large leeks, cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup white wine (or chicken broth, if you have no wine)
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. In a sauce pan over high heat, whisk together the bourbon, brown sugar, honey, molasses, mustard, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and allow the sauce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until reduced by half and slightly thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Make your leeks while the sauce simmers. Melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat and thinly slice the leeks. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until softened, then add in the white wine and cook until evaporated.
  3. Pat the salmon dry and season with the salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment, then place a cooling rack on top of it and spray with non-stick spray. Place the salmon on the sheet, brush lightly with the sauce, and broil for 3 minutes or so on each side, until slightly crispy.
  4. Take the salmon out of the oven and brush it again, this time more generously with the glaze. Place back in the oven for another 2 minutes or so on each side, until the sauce caramelizes a bit. Top with the caramelized leeks and serve.


20 Responses

  1. Dena says:

    This. Looks. Amazing!

  2. Joyce says:

    Wow, I’m not a big fan of fish but I think I have to try this at least once 😀

  3. Jane M says:

    Fish looks delish. Our weather however is really REALLY getting to me! (NJ) I cannot take another wet miserable rotten day! We’ve not had many sunny days the entire month of June! Wonder what the rest of the summer will bring?

    • Sydney says:

      @Jane M: I’m not optimistic, sadly! :(

      @Caitlin: Thanks for commenting! Do you have treacle available? It’s basically the same thing.

  4. Caitlin says:

    Hi Sydney!
    This is my first comment, but I have tried a couple of your recipes and loved them. Do you have any suggestions for a molasses substitute? I am in the UK, where this is not readily available.

  5. This salmon looks delicious! It’s a shame you can’t do any grilling in your apartment, but I’d say the oven worked out just fine. NJ is also misty and looking like the Amazon. But at least it isn’t oppressively hot anymore right?

    • Sydney says:

      @Chris: Hopefully it stays nice for this week and the rain goes away!

      @Rhyelysgranny: I think it would work jsut fine!

      @Tanvi: This should make him a salmon fan for sure!

      @Michelle: Me either – trying to change that! 😉

      @Queen: My thoughts exactly!

      @Lauren: Thanks, you too!

      @Jules: Just be sure to use something you would actually drink!

  6. MMmmmmmm. I love Salmon. Fabulous idea doing it in the bourbon. Now I wonder would a drop of Irish whiskey do the job do you think? Bourbon is sweeter isn’t it so perhaps a little Glayva? I have treacle for a molasses stand in. Yep everything there. Just a visit to the fish stall. Thanks Sydney another gorgeous recipe from you. As usual I am ready to eat by the time I reach the end of your post. :)

  7. Wow! This looks amazing! My boyfriend has finally come around to liking salmon but has been a bourbon fan for a long time, so this looks like the perfect recipe for me to make for him. Thanks!

  8. This looks great! I love leeks, but never cook enough with them.

  9. the_queen_of_cheese says:

    My God, that looks absolutely delicious! And now I have a “healthy” excuse to go and buy some bourbon. :) I feel some of this salmon and your watermelon margaritas coming on VERY soon indeed!

  10. What a fantastic dinner, love those crispy leeks! Have a great weekend:-)

  11. Jules says:

    Hmmm, I’m going to introduce this to my boyfriend, but first we’ll need to get a bottle of cheaper whiskey! I feel bad using one of his Islays…

  12. Jen T. says:

    I’ve just recently fallen in love with leeks, so this sounds amazing! I’m thinking this, with a watermelon margarita for dessert 😉 Those looked seriously amazing, although I might also consider bastardizing it with vodka in lieu of tequila..

    When I lived in Berlin, I learned that the nasty misty not-quite-drizzling rain you guys were having is so common it actually has a name- nieselregen! It’s exciting, learning the new vocabulary, until you realize the reason there’s actually a word for it is that it happens so often…

    • Sydney says:

      Jen: Wow – I’m surprised New Yorkers don’t have a name for it yet. I guess I will start using its proper name and see if it catches on! 😉

  13. I just discovered your website. Actually, I first came across those Jaques Torres chocolate chip cookines, bookmarked that, and then found this salmon recipe. Your stuff looks amazing! Will keep checking back!

  14. Kim says:

    I made this last night for dinner, and my dad thought I was catering it out. It turned out so well, and I can’t wait to try the glaze on other things; I made salmon fillets and one chicken breast (my sister dislikes fish), and it was fabulous. We had jasmine rice and baby carrots with it. And I did the leeks up, too – they weren’t crispy at all, but they tasted wonderful. Thanks so much for all the awesome recipes you post! My family and I all love them. ♥

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