“It’s An Extremely Effective Way Of Cooking”: David Chang’s Unusual Method For The Quickest, Flakiest Salmon Is Low-Key Genius, And I Can’t Wait To Eat It Weekly

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.

David Chang's salmon
David Chang / Via tiktok.com

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.

david saying "if you think about the science and technique of it all, it's an extremely effective, efficient way of cooking."
David Chang / Via tiktok.com

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 himself confirmed that there was "no smell."

comment saying "is there any leftover smell in the microwave" and david responding "no smell"
Getty Images / TikTok / Via tiktok.com

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.

Screenshot of David Chang's TikTok comments
David Chang / TikTok / Via tiktok.com

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.

comment saying "the fact that a renowned chef is telling us how to cook with a microwave is wholesome. thanks dave!"
Getty Images / TikTok / Via tiktok.com

And I, personally, was pretty shocked to see an actual 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.

12 oz salmon filet, 1 teaspoon agave nectar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

For what it's worth, my piece of salmon was about 12 ounces, and I also removed the skin before cooking it since Chang's fish appeared to be skinless. If your salmon still has skin and you don't feel like removing it (I honestly don't blame you), you should be totally fine. The fish should flake neatly off the skin once it's cooked through, anyway.

Ross Yoder

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.

A piece of salmon on a glass platter
Ross Yoder

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.

david chang taking container out of his fancy microwave

(Spoiler alert: It worked just fine.)

David Chang / Via tiktok.com

STEP #2: Next, I poured about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of agave nectar over the salmon.

author's salmon with soy and agave next to a screenshot of david chang's

If you don't have agave nectar, I'm 99% sure that honey, or even a tiny sprinkling of granulated sugar, will give you the same sweet-savory results.

Ross Yoder / David Chang / Via tiktok.com

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.

Ross Yoder

STEP #3: I evenly sprinkled a 1/2 teaspoon or so of seasoned salt all over the piece of fish.

Seasoned salmon in a glass dish

Chang appeared to only sprinkle salt on the top of his fish, while I evenly coated both sides. But again: It's not that deep. It's literally microwaved fish. Season as you wish!

Ross Yoder

STEP #4: Nervously, I popped this baby into the microwave after loosely (loosely!) covering the container with a lid.

don't close the lid tightly!

The Anyday bowl that Chang used seemed to have a built-in vent, so I made sure to allow some air to escape from my container. I really didn't want to wind up with a security deposit-forfeiting salmon explosion in my very cheap (yet attached-to-the-apartment) microwave. Is that how science works? Unsure.

Ross Yoder

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.

Ross Yoder

Then, I waited.

author giving a cautious thumbs up while salmon cooks
Ross Yoder

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.

Ross Yoder

I'd say the salmon odor was as weak as it was when I tried King's version, which was only wrapped in a paper towel. ... So, in terms of the lack of fishy smells, I don't exactly think the lid is 100% responsible.

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.

Cooked salmon on a dish
Ross Yoder

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.

thermometer registers at 135 degrees when inserted into center of the salmon

Some additional context: The temperature for medium-rare salmon is generally agreed to be around 125ºF, while well-done salmon registers at over 145ºF. The latter temperature is what's officially recommended by the USDA, but farmed salmon cooked to a temperature as low as 125ºF is generally thought to be safe for consumption, too.

(Personally, I find that 135ºF is the best combination of "cooked enough" while still being plenty moist and flaky.)

Ross Yoder

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 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.

A fork in cut-up salmon
Ross Yoder

But beyond the texture, I'm thrilled to report that the taste...

author holding up salmon before biting into it
Ross Yoder

...was an absolute 10.

author looking happy after biting into the salmon
Ross Yoder

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.

Ross Yoder

For a more complete dinner, I ended up flaking the fish over some steamed white rice, per 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?!

salmon with toppings over white rice in a bowl
Ross Yoder

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 tried 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. 👇