Tips and Recipes for Grilling Salmon

Cooking How-To, How-To, Recipes
on July 1, 2010
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Salmon is most definitely the perfect fish for the grill. Its meaty texture keeps it intact; its healthy oils keep it moist in the face of the grill’s searing heat, and its full flavors hold up to the intensity of the char—not to mention, its fresh red hues are super inviting. It’s also widely available and economical. I like to coat it with a flavorful rub and serve with a cooling relish. Here are some tips for grilling it.

  • Oil it up. While fattier fish, like salmon, stick less to the grill, the fact is that all fish have a tendency to stick to the grate. To prevent this, dry the salmon well with a paper towel and coat the fillet with a small amount of oil just before grilling.
  • Clean it up. If the grates are not pristinely clean—you guessed it—the salmon could still stick or fall apart. Scrape the grates until nothing is left on them. Then, rapidly brush a lightly dampened cotton (not nylon-based) rag over the grates to remove all the debris that was loosened by the brush.
  • Heat it up. A really hot grill prevents sticking and creates delicious char marks quickly so the salmon does not overcook. You can always lower the heat later on in the cooking process if necessary.
  • Cook it up. As salmon fillets cook quickly over high heat, it’s easy to overcook them. Watch the doneness closely. They’re best when the center is still a touch medium rare and dark pink.

—Chris Koetke, Dean of the School of Culinary Arts, Kendall College, Chicago, Ill.