Brown sugar salmon with rosemary mustard sauce

This brown sugar salmon is caramelized to a crispy exterior and served with a rosemary mustard sauce. An easy dinner in 20 minutes.

Last week on the flight out to California for the CrossFit Games, I sat next to a woman who boarded the plane in a straw hat with sunglasses on and stilettos.  That alone probably tells you enough about the experience but in case you want some more color, she dug through her designer bag right before take off, grabbed a prescription pill bottle and popped 3 of whatever was in it. It was kind of unfortunate because prior to that I was having a ton of fun reading her text messages to a girlfriend as she ripped apart some guy she had previously dated. The font on her phone turned up to what I call the “mom font”. You know, the one so big that one letter takes up an entire row of text. It’s barely considered being noisy when the text is practically jumping out and attacking you.

Brown sugar salmon

So an hour and a half into the flight, she’s sleeping (with an eye mask on) and I’m watching some weird ass Nicole Kidman movie trying to figure out how she does an American accent so well when all of a sudden the seatbelt light goes on and we get the typical “folks, just hitting a little patch of rough air, please return to your seats…” speech from the pilot. Not a big deal, typical turbulence, honestly nothing to even bat an eyelash at. Unless you’re the pill popper beside me.

Brown sugar salmon

Next thing I know her hand is around my arm and I look over to see she’s talking to me. I take the headphones off and she looks me straight in the eye and says “I’m scared. Are we going to die?”

My first thought was “I’m pretty sure I’m not, but why don’t you tell me what those 3 pills you took were before I make a judgment call on you.”

Except I had 3 more hours next to her so I didn’t say that.

I tried to reassure her the turbulence wasn’t that bad and we’d be fine but she proceeded to tell me she didn’t even have a good last meal if this was the end. So I asked her what she ate last and she said: salmon.

Brown sugar salmon

I can’t really say it’d be my first choice for a last meal (I honestly don’t think I could even pick one food to end on, there are just too many choices!) but I really wouldn’t be upset if it were salmon.

Particularly this one. Caramelized stove top with brown sugar, finished in the oven and a lemon rosemary mustard sauce poured on top to serve. So here’s to crazy people on airplanes…thanks for the inspiration (and the entertainment).

Yield: 2 servings

Brown Sugar Salmon with Rosemary Mustard Sauce

Brown Sugar Salmon with Rosemary Mustard Sauce

A simple brown sugar caramelized salmon with a rosemary mustard sauce.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes


  • 1 lb. wild salmon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced


  1. Combine brown sugar, salt & pepper in a shallow dish.
  2. Coat salmon filet (or filets if you've cut it into 2 pieces) on all sides with the sugar mixture.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  4. Once hot, add the filets skin side down to the pan.
  5. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the skin is browned and crunchy, flip and cook on all 3 remaining sides for about 3 minutes per side, until each is golden brown.
  6. Transfer skillet to the oven and broil on high for another 3-5 minutes, until salmon is cooked through.
  7. While salmon is in the oven, whisk together the remaining olive oil, mustard, rosemary and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  8. Remove salmon from the oven, plate and drizzle the mustard sauce over top.


filed in: Main Dishes
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  1. Regan

    Remind me not to ever sit by you on a plane. Between the snarky texts I send and the trashy books & audiobooks I read, I’m destined to show up on the blog looking less than my best :)

    [I will be pill free though… cocktails, yes. Pills, no]

  2. Sarah Blunt

    I love your story. It reminded me of one of my travels years ago. Anyway, this recipe is a two hit-combo. It looks so delicious and very healthy. I will definitely do this recipe. Thanks for sharing! :-D

  3. Pingback: Brown Sugar Salmon | Recipe Archive

  4. Renee

    You know, I wear sunglasses and high heels too. I live and eat Paleo, and have a serious investment into my body’s fitness. I love CrossFit and all things active. I say, why judge this poor lady on the plane so harshly? She’s just another human on the planet, like the rest of us. I like this recipe but I am going to try it with local honey rather than brown sugar. I will report back with my findings!

  5. John

    Loved it, excellent recipe! I cooked it for 3 min. skin side up then flipped skin side down until it looked done (about 2-3 min.) and skipped the broiler. It was Excellent!


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