How to Grill Salmon
When you want delicious, gluten-free healthy protein in a hurry, salmon beats pretty much everything else. Not only can you get perfectly grilled salmon in under half an hour, but you also won’t have to spend a lot of time preparing it beforehand. Keep reading to discover some of our best salmon grilling tips and tricks.
What Kind of Salmon Is Best for Outdoor Grilling?
Salmon is available in two main types: wild-caught and farm-raised. Either type will yield a healthy and delicious meal, so the answer to the above question depends on who will be eating it.
If you prefer stronger-tasting salmon, wild-caught is the best way to go. This is because wild-caught salmon is leaner, which increases its fishy flavor. Farm-raised salmon is the ideal choice for those who prefer milder-tasting fish. These salmon contain higher amounts of fat, which help to mellow the salmony taste. This also gives their meat a more buttery quality.
The best cuts for grilling are center-cuts or steaks that are pink and fresh.
Pro Tip: Regardless of whether you choose sockeye, coho, chinook, or king salmon, ensure that the pieces you choose have their skins on. More on this later.
Preparing and Seasoning Your Salmon Fillets
Just as with the flavor of your fish, how or whether you season your salmon will depend on your individual preferences, but, first, it needs to be properly prepared for grilling.
To do this, allow your salmon to get to room temperature by giving it around 20 minutes before you grill. Salmon needs a dry surface in order to prevent sticking and sear quickly, so set it on paper towels and pat the meat dry before marinating or seasoning.
Marinating your salmon only takes a few minutes to do. Your marinade should include:
- One dairy-free fat and one acid at a 3:1 ratio (i.e., olive oil and mustard)
- Salt, such as sea salt or a liquid like wheat-free soy sauce
- One aromatic, such as onion or garlic
Simply mix the above ingredients and then drizzle it over your salmon, allowing it to sit for 10 minutes.
Want something simpler? Rub olive oil on your salmon pieces, and then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper.
Pro Tip: Because salmon should be grilled right after it’s seasoned, preheat your grill while applying seasoning or marinades.
Temperature and Timing: Two Keys to Delicious Salmon
Before you turn on the grill, brush grates well to remove residue. Then, grab your tongs and use them to coat your grates with a paper towel lightly coated with olive-oil.
Divide your outdoor grill into hot and lower-heat zones; you’ll sear the salmon in the hot zone, and the lower-temperature side will offer gentler cooking.
Preheat your grill for 15 minutes, placing salmon skin-side down (this is where most of the cooking takes place) on the hot side of the grill for between six and eight minutes, keeping in mind that thicker pieces will need longer cooking time. Then flip it gently to cook for between two and four minutes on the flesh side. Salmon that’s ready will not stick to the grates; make sure it lifts easily from grill grates before flipping.
The FDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145 to 150 degrees F. If you prefer your salmon medium-rare, stick to the lower end of this temperature range.
Pro Tips: Use a fish spatula instead of tongs to flip your salmon; this will help keep the meat intact during flipping. Be sure to close gas grill lids until your salmon is finished cooking to seal in flavor and maintain high heat.
To Smoke or Not to Smoke?
Many grillmasters place a cedar plank at the top of their salmon grilling lists. Why? Because cooking salmon in this way helps to lock in flavor and moisture by curing it on the outside, as it smokes the fish with fragrant cedar.
So how do you use a cedar plank in salmon grilling? First, you have to immerse the plank in water for an hour. You can also experiment with other liquids like stock, beer, or wine.
Then preheat your grill and season your salmon by mincing and rubbing it with fresh garlic. Caramelize salmon by using brown sugar to coat the top before placing it on the plank and into the grill. Close the lid and cook until the recommended internal temperature has been reached.
Pro Tips: Don’t use oil if grilling with cedar planks, and use one plank per salmon piece.
The Foil Pack
Another way to get moist and delicious grilled salmon is by using the foil pack. Try the following for great flavor combinations:
- Brush salmon with BBQ sauce and top with slices of lemon.
- Combine a ¼ cup each of brown sugar and melted butter, brush on salmon, and top with garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper.
- Place lime slices underneath and on top of salmon and season with cilantro.
Place salmon pieces on foil and season with the above combinations or one of your own. Wrap to seal, close the grill lid, and cook to recommended temperature.
Tasty Salmon Side Dishes
No matter how you choose to grill it, the right side dish is essential for a delicious and nutritious meal. Any of these are great companions for salmon, and you can cook most of them on the grill:
- Roasted veggies like zucchini, carrots, potatoes, and brussels sprouts with garlic
- Sweet potatoes, chunked or made into thick home fries
- Portobello mushrooms
- Rice or quinoa for quick kitchen or BBQ side grill cooking
Get the Best Salmon Grilling Experience for the Best Price
An older grill can make getting the perfect salmon a challenge. If it’s time for a grilling upgrade, CAPO Building Specialties has the perfect products for all of your needs with American Outdoor Grills, Fire Magic Grills, and Green Mountain Grills.
American Outdoor Grills feature solid, commercial-grade stainless steel construction, large cooking grids, and an analog thermometer, along with a spit rod, warming rack, and much more.
Fire Magic products are available in charcoal grills and electric models. Their wide range of sizes and styles add versatility, durability, performance, and beauty to every outdoor grilling experience.
Green Mountain Grills brings wood-fired pellet grilling right to your backyard. With amazing features that include a digital controller, combustion fan, and firebox, you can control your grilling temperature like a pro.
Learn more about our grills online, or give us a call at 747-247-2605.
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