Sake-steamed Salmon with Sesame Rice Cakes

Salmon, steamed with sake, ginger, star anise and orange is served with sake butter and deliciously crisp sesame rice cakes in Tom Douglas' South East Asian-inspired recipe
By Tom Douglas
Sake-steamed Salmon with Sesame Rice Cakes
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes plus 1 hr to chill the rice
  • Effort: medium


For the sesame rice cakes

  • 400 g Japanese short grain rice
  • 610 ml cold water
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 4 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 tsp mirin, (Japanese rice vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp chilli sauce, (sambal olek) or other Asian chilli paste
  • 55 ml peanut oil, for frying, plus extra for greasing

For the salmon

  • 1 stalks lemongrass, split lengthwise
  • 500 ml water
  • 500 ml sake
  • 3 cm ginger, sliced into 3mm thick discs
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • 4 x 175 g wild salmon
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

For the sake butter

  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 112 g sake, plus 1 tsp
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • 112 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • kosher salt


1. For the sesame rice cakes, place the rice in a strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear.

2. In a saucepan, combine the rice and water. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, until the rice is soft. Remove from the heat and leave on one side until cool.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the cooled cooked rice with the spring onion, ginger, vinegar, sesame seeds, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, and sambal olek.

4. Rub a 35cm x 25 cm baking tray (with a 2.5cm rim) with vegetable or peanut oil. Press the rice into the tray with a spatula. The rice should make an even, 2cm-thick layer. Cover with cling film, and chill for at least 1 hour. Cut into 6 squares.

5. Heat the peanut oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the rice cakes on both sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Keep warm while you prepare the salmon.

6. For the salmon, bruise the lemongrass with the back of a knife - this helps release the aromatic flavour. Set up your steamer with either a large saucepan or wok and a Chinese bamboo steamer set over it.

7. Place the lemongrass, water, sake, ginger, star anise, and orange peel in the bottom of the steamer and bring to the boil.

8. Lay the salmon fillets in the steamer basket and cover with the steamer lid. Steam until the salmon is tender - about 4-5 minutes; keep warm. While the salmon is cooking, prepare the sake butter

9. For the butter, soften the ginger and shallots in butter for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat.

10. Pour in the sake and bring to the boil. Cook down and reduce by two-thirds before adding the cream. Bring to the boil and reduce by half.

11. Add the chilled butter pieces to the sauce, little by little, whisking constantly. The butter will emulsify and make a thick, creamy sauce. When all the butter has been incorporated, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in an extra teaspoon of sake and add the lime juice. Season with salt to taste.

12. Serve the warm steamed salmon with the rice cakes, and pour over the sake butter.

Rate This Recipe