Sweet and Savory Grilled Salmon
I have a few friends who are vegetarian but will eat salmon. They are not pescatarians (vegetarians who include fish in their diet), but will eat only salmon for the Omega 3 fatty acids, potassium and vitamin B, as if it is a pill that they must take. Then there are those, like myself who actually like salmon. It’s my “go to if there is nothing creative on the menu” food. My “I don’t trust this restaurant to properly cook delicate fish” dinner. Because salmon is very forgiving due to the high content of fat, it can be a little overcooked and not suffer much.
There are several typical cuts you may see in the market:
Filet-Salmon fillets are the most commonly used cut of the fish because removing the pin bones is simple and the cut lends itself to all methods of cooking. A fillet can be a small section of a boned side, intended to serve one or two people, or it or an entire boned side to serve a crowd.
Side-A side of salmon is the piece from which smaller fillets are cut, and it’s a great choice for when you want to serve a large group of people. A side can be grilled, roasted or broiled, or even poached if you own the right equipment. If you’re looking to cook a whole salmon, try two sides instead.
Steak-These crosscut sections are best for grilling, broiling or pan-searing, though they can also be baked in a sauce. When buying more than one steak, be sure they are of uniform thickness so they cook at the same rate. Thicker steaks will be easier to cook so they acquire an attractive burnish and remain moist and succulent, roughly 10 to 12 ounces per steak. Consider serving half a large steak per person, divided in the kitchen after cooking and plated without the skin and bones.
Buy wild caught salmon if you can-it’s healthier. Wild salmon comes from Pacific waters, and has a silky texture and a brilliant vermilion hue. It has a superior taste, with fewer calories and less fat than farmed salmon. It is also expensive, and there is less of it in the market. Wild salmon’s season is from May to September. Outside this season, it has been frozen. It should still taste great (because it is a hearty fish, it takes to freezing well), but you don’t want to go home and refreeze it.
Farmed salmon is much more plentiful and cheaper. It comes from Atlantic salmon stock, and bears the color of the feed it is given, most often the light pink flesh we associate with “salmon.” Readily available all year round, farmed salmon generally has a rich, mild flavor, but lacks the salinity of wild salmon.
Soooo, here’s a very easy grilled recipe that will make even a salmon doubter, a salmon lover-kids especially love the sweet/savory flavor and adults enjoy the unusual slaw.
- 2 TBL hot sauce (I like Frank’s)
- 1 TBL, packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hotter)
- 2 TBL. mayonnaise
- 1 TBL. chopped chives
- 8 TBL. sliver-thin sliced celery (peel it first and slice at an angle)
- ½ a small red onion very thinly sliced
- 4 salmon fillets, skin on, about 1” thick
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Vegetable oil for the grill
Preheat the grill or a grill pan on high.
Mix together the hot sauce, brown sugar, paprika and cayenne in a small bowl (bowl 1).
Take one tablespoon of this mixture and put it in another bowl(bowl 2). Set aside the bowl 1.
Whisk the mayonnaise into the bowl 2 spice mixture and add the chives, celery and onion.
Toss well and refrigerate.
Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper.
Oil the grate or grill pan lightly.
Lay the salmon, skin side up on the grill grate or pan and cook until you get grill marks and the salmon releases easily.
Flip and brush the salmon with some of the bowl 1 sauce.
Cook, brushing frequently with the sauce, until just cooked through-about 12 minutes.
Plate and top with the celery slaw.