Donburi is one of those easy and comforting Japanese meals everyone seems to love. The more common types of donburi are made using chicken or beef, but did you know that it can also be made with fish? This is an easy salmon donburi dressed in a homemade teriyaki sauce that’s garlicky, sweet, and savory. Ready in 20 minutes from start to finish.

Salmon teriyaki donburi

What is Donburi?

Donburi (どんぶり), or don, which simply means bowl, is a Japanese dish consisting of rice topped with a variety of meats, seafood, or vegetables. Some donburi ingredients are simmered in a sauce before being served over rice, while others are presented raw, just like sashimi.

The dish is typically served in a donburi bowl, which is larger than a traditional rice bowl, but smaller than the ramen bowls we are used to seeing here in the US. A donburi bowl can also come with a lid so the dish can finish steaming in the bowl right before being served.

Some of the more popular donburi dishes are:

  • Gyūdon (牛丼): The literal translation for gyūdon is ‘beef bowl’. The dish consists of thinly sliced beef and onions that have been cooked in a simple sauce made with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi, and served over rice. It’s often topped with shichimi togarashi (dry chili pepper seasoning), and beni shōga, which are thinly sliced ginger strips pickled in umezu, a plum vinegar brine used to make umeboshi (pickled plum).
  • Oyakodon (親子丼): The term oyakodon literally means ‘parent and child’, to represent the chicken and the egg. Pieces of chicken, thinly sliced onions, and a whisked egg, are simmered in a simple sauce made with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi. It’s topped with chopped scallions and mitsuba (Japanese parsley).
  • Katsudon (カツ丼): Katsudon consists of a breaded pork cutlet that’s simmered with an egg in a simple sauce made with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi, and served over rice with mitsuba. The word tonkatsu means ‘cutlet rice bowl’, with katsu being a shortened version of the word katsuretsu, which is Japanese for cutlet.
  • Chūkadon (中華丼): Meaning ‘Chinese-style bowl’ in Japanese, chūkadon is a rice bowl topped with a mix of vegetables, meat, and seafood, that have been stir fried in a thick white sauce.
  • Tendon (天丼): Short for tempura donburi, tendon is a rice bowl topped with shrimp and vegetable tempura, drizzled with tempura sauce.
  • Kaisendon (海鮮丼): Meaning ‘fresh seafood’ in Japanese, kaisendon is a specialty dish hailing from Hokkaido, a city in northern Japan, where you can find the best and freshest seafood. The rice bowl is topped with a variety of fresh seafood such as sea urchin, shrimp, scallops, tuna, salmon, salmon roe, octopus, and crab meat.
  • Tekkadon (鉄火丼): This is a very simple donburi dish topped with thinly sliced raw tuna sashimi, scallions, shiso leaf, and sometimes nori. It’s drizzled with a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, and sake.
Ingredients for salmon teriyaki donburi

Ingredients for Salmon Teriyaki Donburi

Salmon fillet: You will need between 8 t0 10 ounces of skinless, boneless salmon fillets. Look for the blue MSC label to ensure that the fish you are buying can be traced back to an MSC certified fishery (sustainable fishing).
Salt: Just a pinch to season and tenderize the fish.
Flour: Use all-purpose flour to give the fish a light and crispy texture.
Oil: You can use any type of neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, or safflower oil.
Teriyaki sauce: You can use store bought teriyaki sauce but I personally prefer the homemade version. My recipe for teriyaki sauce is less sweet, more garlicky and savory.
Cooked Japanese rice: Preferably the short grain type. If this is the first time you are making Japanese rice, watch my tutorial here.
Baby spinach: Baby spinach has a grassy flavor that pairs really well with the sweetness of garlic.
Scallions: Chopped scallions add a nice crunch and a refreshing taste to the donburi bowl.
Sesame seeds: I like sprinkling a few sesame seeds to finish the dish to make it look even more aesthetically pleasing.
Ichimi togarashi (optional): If you like a little heat with your meal, adding a dash of ichimi togarashi will hit the spot.

Variations

Not a big fan of salmon?

Not a big deal. Use another type of firm fish such as arctic char or snapper, or skip the fish and use chicken instead. Or you can make this recipe vegan by using tofu or tempeh.

Salmon dusted with flour

How To Make Salmon Teriyaki Donburi

  1. Gather all of your kitchen tools and ingredients.
  2. Place the salmon pieces on a plate and season with a little salt. Leave for 10 minutes.
  3. Dust each piece of salmon with some flour on all sides.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and when the oil hot, add the salmon.
  5. Cook for 2 minutes, flip the salmon over, and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the sauce and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce thickens and coats the fish. Turn the heat off.
  7. Fill two bowls with 1 cup of rice each and top with spinach.
  8. Add the teriyaki salmon and sprinkle the sesame on top. Serve with ichimi togarashi..

How to Store Donburi

If you end up with leftovers, the best way to store donburi is to keep the rice and the fish in separate airtight storage containers.

The reason is because fish overcooks quickly so it’s best to microwave the rice on its own first.
When you feel that the rice is hot enough to eat, add the fish on top and microwave for an additional 40-50 seconds.

This way the texture of the fish should still be moist and tender.

Salmon in a pan Spinach rice bowl

What to Serve with Salmon Teriyaki Donburi

Donburi is typically served as a main dish and because it’s quite filling, goes best with small sides that are on the lighter side. Think salads, soups, and other sides that are heavy on vegetables.

Some of my favorites are:

Salmon teriyaki donburi

Did you like this Salmon Teriyaki Donburi Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!

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Salmon Teriyaki Donburi

This is an easy salmon donburi dressed in a homemade teriyaki sauce that’s garlicky, sweet, and savory. Ready in 20 minutes from start to finish.

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Rice
  • Method: Pan frying
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 to 10 ounces skinless, boneless, salmon fillet, chopped bite size
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup homemade teriyaki sauce or store bought
  • 2 cups cooked Japanese rice
  • ½ cup chopped baby spinach 
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Ichimi togarashi (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the salmon pieces on a plate and sprinkle salt over them. Leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Dust the salmon pieces with flour on all sides. Use a little more if needed.
  3. In a skillet or pan over medium high heat, add the oil and when the oil is hot, add the salmon. 
  4. Cook for 2 minutes, flip the salmon pieces and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Add the teriyaki sauce and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, and coats the fish. Turn the heat off.
  6. Fill two bowls with rice and top with spinach first, and then the fish. 
  7. Sprinkle scallions and sesame seeds.
  8. Add ichimi togarashi for a little heat and serve immediately.

Notes

Storing leftovers

Keep the rice and the fish in separate airtight storage containers. Reheat the rice first until it’s hot enough to eat, then add the fish on top and microwave for an additional 40-50 seconds.

This ensures that the texture of the fish remains moist and tender.

Keywords: rice bowl, easy meal, bento

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