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June 18, 2007 / Tony

Simple Salmon

One of my favorite things to grill is salmon.  The skin turns wonderfully crispy, the flesh takes on a smoky flavor, and because of the high heat, the fish retains a lot of moisture.  There are, of course, infinite ways of flavoring salmon while cooking (it’s a chameleon that way) but this is just such a simple and satisfying way of cooking it that it is my go-to recipe. 

Begin by starting your grill.  Then, take your salmon filet and coat it with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and let it sit in the fridge while your grill heats up.  The olive oil serves two purposes here: 1) adding flavor and 2) protection from sticking on the grill.  Once your grill is hot, scrape your grate as clean as possible.  (The biggest danger from grilling fish is that the flesh is so delicate that if it starts to stick to the grate, you are going to have big problems keeping the fish together.  In a worst case scenario, you could lose your fish through the grate because it’s turned into flakes.)  Then, using an oiled paper towel and your tongs, coat the grate with oil.  Now you’re ready to cook.  Start cooking the fish skin side down over direct heat and cover.  This will let the top of the fish cook while the skin crisps up.  This “top” cooking is important because once you flip the fish, it is much less likely to stick to the grate.  It’s already been “set” for lack of a better term.  Depending on your fire, flip the salmon after about 3-4 minutes.  Cover and let it cook another 3-4 minutes.  Now flip again andcheck for doneness.  I like my salmon well-done (I like the firm flesh taste.  I do like sushi and sashimi, however.  I am not raw-fish phobic.)  If it isn’t done to your liking, move the fish to an area of the grill where there is no direct heat and cover again.  Let it cook until done.  You’ll have perfect salmon.  I guarantee it.


On top of this salmon, I like this simple sauce:


Dilled Sour Cream Sauce


½ cup sour cream

2 T chopped fresh dill

1 T fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste


Just mix it all together.  I should note here that I just made up these proportions.  They should be close but whenever I make this sauce, I just throw it together and keep tasting and adding until I think it is right.  Dill is simply wonderful with salmon, their flavors complement each other while the lemon juice and sour cream add that tang that is so refreshing while eating fish. 

Last note, try to use good salmon.  The last time I made this, I used some wild sockeye salmon and it was wonderful.  It was twice as red as the farm-raised salmon, even though the farm-raised stuff had color added!  As any good cook will tell you, you are only as good as your ingredients. 



Leave a Comment
  1. AYT / Jun 21 2007 10:11 am

    Thanks for the olive oil tip. What do you think about grilling a fillet on tin foil? Pros and cons?

  2. abreiden / Jun 21 2007 2:22 pm

    I’ve seen a lot of salmon cooked on aluminum foil. The method works very well as long as you cover the grill. Since there is virtually no chance of the bottom of the fish burning, there is no reason to flip the fish over. Hence, you are free to top the fish with some more flavor. Why not through a couple of sprigs of dill on the top and some lemons. The other benefit to this method is that you can use larger, heavier pieces of fish. It is very difficult to turn a big piece of fish over without breakage.


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