“Having access to wild Alaskan salmon is amazing,” says best-selling cookbook author Kim Sunée, who moved to Anchorage several years ago. She loves to serve it as an entire glorious fillet, with rice, lettuce, cilantro, and a crunchy topping like bean sprouts or cucumbers, so people make their own ssam (Korean-style lettuce wraps). “It’s pretty, fresh, and great for those who aren’t eating gluten. And because they make their own bites, it’s more convivial.” This recipe, flavored with the mellow Korean red-chile paste called gochujang, gives the salmon an alluring spicy-sweet depth. It’s based on one in her most recent book, Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks, written with Seung Hee Lee.
A day or two before, make the marinade: Mix ingredients in a bowl and chill.
About 1 1/2 hours before dinner, deputize a guest to prep rice, lettuce, and cilantro while you pour half the marinade into a pan large enough for salmon. Pat fish dry and set, flesh side down, in marinade. Chill 45 minutes.
Heat a grill to medium-high (450°) with an area cleared (for charcoal) or a burner turned off (for gas) to make an indirect-heat area. Fold a large sheet of heavy-duty foil in half. With a knife, poke dime-size holes in foil 2 in. apart. Oil one side of foil. Brush salmon skin with oil.
Set foil on grill over direct heat, oiled side up; heat 2 minutes. Place salmon, skin-side down, on foil. Cook, covered, until skin is light brown and sizzling, 5 to 6 minutes. With tongs, slide salmon on foil to indirect-heat area and cook, covered, until all but top 1/4 in. is cooked, 3 to 8 minutes. Slide back to direct heat and cook until skin is well-browned and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer salmon on foil to a rimless baking sheet.
With the help of your deputy cook, slide a large metal spatula between foil and salmon skin to free skin. Carefully slide salmon from foil to a platter. Season with salt, drizzle with some remaining gochujang marinade, and scatter sesame seeds on top.
Together, serve it forth: Set the salmon on the table with rice, lettuce, cilantro, remaining gochujang sauce, and Fresh Bean Sprout Banchan.
*Find gochujang at well-stocked grocery stores and Asian markets. Use tweezers to pull out each salmon pin bone in same direction the bone is slanting.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.