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Weeknight Cooking

Why Do Some Broiler Recipes Call for Sugar?

Just a small sprinkle of sugar ensures a crisp brown top.
By Published Apr. 8, 2019

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The great thing about using a broiler is the crisp brown top you get on your supper. The bad thing about using a broiler is the risk of overcooking your dish by the time it gets brown.

One way to help forestall the pitfalls of broiler cooking is with a spoonful of sugar (or sometimes honey, or maple syrup, or something else depending on the recipe).

This recipe calls for just a tablespoon of white sugar, tossed with flavorful Old Bay seasoning and sprinkled across 4 filets of salmon. That sugar caramelizes beautifully in the oven, creating a delicate, crisp crust quickly – before the fish overcooks.

There are two keys to making this work. First, you’ve got to use just the right amount of sugar, and not too much. You don’t want to compromise the other flavors by adding too much sweetness. And second, you have to get the timing right so that the sugar turns a beautiful brown and creates a crisp crust without burning.

This recipe gets it right. I think you’ll like it.