Salmon is what’s known as an anadromous fish. This means they are born in fresh waters, swim to salt water when grown and then come back to fresh waters to lay their eggs. It was long believed that salmon return to the very same spot where they were born. Amazingly enough, science has proven that the legend is true. The salmon’s journey has been recorded in National Geographic and other nature documentaries.
Salmon is a favorite food of both people and animals such as grizzly bears. It is a versatile meat that can be cooked in different ways: baking, steaming, poaching, frying, broiling and grilling. Here is how you grill salmon step by step.
- Like all fresh fish, keep salmon in the refrigerator until it’s time to grill.
- Check how the salmon smells. Remember a strong fishy smell means it is no longer fresh. (See buying tips.)
- Set up and preheat the grill according to instructions. You will probably want to preheat at high temperature.
- Put some oil on the grill to prevent the salmon from sticking later on.
- Rub oil on the salmon as well.
- Do not skin the salmon. Fish is delicate meat and falls apart easily during cooking. Keeping the skin on helps keep it whole.
- Place a grill basket on the grill about 3-4 inches above the fire.
- Lower the heat to medium.
- Put the salmon pieces in the grill basket. The darker or skin side must be facing up.
- If it is a thin salmon – about half an inch – cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Turn only once. Cook longer if it’s thicker.
- Pierce the grilled salmon through with a knife or fork to check color and texture. If the meat flakes (comes apart) easily and is opaque, it’s done. Pierce gently in several places to be sure.
- Remove the salmon pieces from the grill. If you don’t want the skin, you can remove it now.
Grilling Salmon Tips
The thicker the salmon is, the longer it needs to be cooked. An ordinary 1-inch piece should be cooked for about 5 minutes on each side.
Grill Alaskan salmon over medium heat.
Always cook with the skin or darker side up. The lighter side is more delicate. Cooking that side first makes it easier to turn the fish without turning it flaking apart.
You can remove salmon from the grill as soon as it’s done. The heat inside will keep the meat cooking for a while.
Keep your salmon pieces large – about one serving. Slicing too small causes the meat it to get dry too much too fast.
Add your seasoning sauces last so it doesn’t darken the salmon.
To add flavor, you can use grilling planks. Good wood for this include alder, oak, maple and cedar. Soak the planks for half an hour in water, and then dry them. Oil one side of the plank, put the salmon pieces on them and place all of them in the grill.
Grilling Salmon Safety Tips
Cook your salmon pieces at the same time. Do not mix cooked salmon with raw salmon.
Wash your hands before and after handling the meat.
Keep your cooking implements clean before and after use.
Store salmon in the freezer as soon as you get home from the store. Cook as soon as possible to retain freshness.
Serve grilled salmon soon after cooking.
Wait for leftovers to cool (shouldn’t take too long) and then put in refrigerator. You should eat them within 2 days to ensure freshness.