Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Caramel Salmon

Whether you use an Instant Pot or your old stove top mode pressure cooker, you won’t regret making this Vietnamese caramel salmon. It comes together in minutes–minutes!–and is rich with Asian flavors.

Pressure cooker Vietnamese caramel salmon, sliced green onion, and soy sauce on a white plate

Dinner in just 10 minutes? You betcha. For this spectacular yet almost effortless meal, salmon is pressure cooked in a sweet and tangy Vietnamese-inspired caramel sauce.–Angie Zoobkoff

Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Caramel Salmon

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 10 M
  • Serves 4
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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted, or 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 salmon fillets (6 to 8 ounces each), preferably center-cut pieces
  • Sliced scallions (white and green parts), for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions

  • 1. In your pressure cooker or Instant Pot, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, and black pepper. Use the sauté function to bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat.
  • 2. Place the fish in the pressure cooker, skin-side up (if there is skin still attached, that is). Spoon the sauce over the fish, cover, and cook on low pressure for 1 minute. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes; then release the remaining pressure manually. Check the fish for doneness by cutting into a fillet. If you prefer your salmon more well-done, cook it for another minute or so using the sauté function.
  • 3. Carefully lift the salmon fillets onto a serving platter, flipping them over so the browned caramelized side is facing up. (The fillets may fall apart a little as you lift them out. That’s okay. They’ll still taste ridiculously lovely.)
  • 4. Use the sauté function to reduce the sauce until it’s thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the salmon and garnish it with the scallions and cilantro.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

Overall, I enjoyed making this Vietnamese caramel salmon in the pressure cooker. There was very little prep time and in the instant pot, cooking took little time as well. I enjoy the mixture of sweet, salty, and sour on this salmon and I love ginger.

While the final product was delicious, the sour part was a little muted, so an extra squeeze of lime at the end would have been even better.

Taking off the skin would have allowed more flavor to seep into the salmon because you only briefly spoon it onto that side before cooking. It might also be helpful to give a rough idea of the dimensions of an ideal portion of salmon.

This would be the perfect easy weeknight dinner served with a quick side of veggies and rice that feels both healthy and a little out of the ordinary. However, the fish sauce has a strong flavor and smell so for picky eaters, I'm thinking of my kids, this will be a hard sell.

I’ve tried to like my Instant Pot. I’ve tried soups and stews. Rice and beans. Meats. I’ve read tons of recipes. Blog posts. Magazine articles. There is an Instant Pot love fest happening around me but I’ve always been left scratching my head wondering why. Until now.

With my mind suitably blown by this Vietnamese caramel salmon, I’m finally feeling the love. The salmon was moist and beautifully flavored with the tangy caramel sauce and made a lovely meal served with steamed rice and a salad. Aside from a bit of measuring and a few stirs, there was no work involved as the Instant Pot did the rest.

My only issue was that when the Instant Pot reached pressure, it overheated and I had to turn it off. Despite this, the salmon was still perfectly cooked. Next time, I’ll double the sauce ingredients to hopefully prevent this from happening. Added bonus? More syrupy caramel to add to my steamed rice.

This Vietnamese caramel salmon is the perfect weeknight dinner--quick, easy and I had all the ingredients in my pantry. I served it with rice and an Asian cucumber salad. This received rave reviews and requests for this dish to be in our regular rotation of dinner ideas.

This is a super flavorful weeknight dinner. The whole thing comes together in a half hour and looks and tastes beautiful.

I did need to cook the salmon a few minutes longer on the saute function of my Instant Pot. This created a great, dark and sticky glaze on the salmon, which was slightly darker than the picture showed. Because I cooked the salmon a bit longer with the saute function, I did not need to thicken sauce after removing the salmon.

This salmon was perfect and took no more than 10 minutes from start to serve in my pressure cooker.

Comments

    1. Hi Roni, your better bet might be to cook it in an oven at 350F. I would mix all your marinade ingredients then place in a baking dish along with salmon, skin side up. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the salmon is done to your taste. Remove the salmon and return the dish and marinade to the oven and broil for a few minutes until the sauce is reduced.

  1. This is a keeper. Although, the wild Pacific salmon (go ahead, drool) was overly done, so we would let the steam release naturally for 2 minutes then manually release the steam. Salmon is usually over-done.

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