Cooking any kind of fish on the grill can be problematic unless you follow some simple tips. Salmon is a good fish choice for the grill because it is a sturdier fish than some other varieties.
You have several options when choosing salmon for the grill. King (Chinook) salmon is one of the tastiest types of salmon due to its high fat content. The flesh is ranges from pale orange to red. Coho (Silver) salmon have a silvery skin and red flesh. They are not quite as strong tasting as King salmon. Pink salmon is a light peach color and are low fat. Sockeye (red) salmon are a favorite with many because of their reddish orange coloring and intense taste. All of these varieties will work well on a grill.
The most important part of choosing a fresh salmon is smell. Fishmongers say it should smell clean like the sea and not have a fishy odor. If you are lucky enough to find wild salmon then it buy it. The taste difference and the lack of any color enhancers make it worth the extra cost.
When purchasing a salmon for grilling you can get a whole salmon (gutted and scaled), salmon steaks (cut across the body of the fish) or salmon filets (cut down the backbone of the fish). These cuts do take different amounts of cooking time but all are good grilling choices.
The simplest basting sauce is melted butter with lemon juice squeezed into it. Baste the salmon with this mixture while it is cooking. Another option is white wine, herbs, and olive oil. Don’t put so much oil in the basting sauce that it causes the grilling fire to flare up.
If you are grilling salmon filets or steaks then 1-inch thick filets are ideal. Put the salmon on an oiled grill skin side down and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes. Do not cook until completely opaque as they will end up over cooked. Take them off before they are completely cooked and let them sit under a tent of foil for a few minutes to finish the cooking.
A whole grilled salmon makes an impressive presentation and keeps the fish moist. Take a gutted and scaled salmon that has been washed inside and out and dried with paper towels. Make a few slits about 2 inches apart on each side of the salmon. The slits should go through the skin and almost down to the bone. Sprinkle sea salt on the outside and inside cavity of the fish. Inside the cavity put some fresh herbs such as dill and some sliced lemons. Now brush some olive oil on the outside of the fish.
Brush the grill grate with oil or lay down some lemon slices or dill fronds as a bed to cook the salmon on. The grill should be at medium heat. Close the lid to the grill. Let it cook for 20 minutes and then check the slits on the fish to see how well it is cooked. It may take longer if you have a big fish. Take it before you think it is completely cooked. There will be some residual cooking after it is removed from the grill.
It’s nice to serve salmon with some lemon slices and herb springs on a platter. With the fish lying on one side remove the top filets and serve. Then remove the bones and serve the bottom filets.v