How to Grill Wild Salmon

Tips & Tricks to Master the Ultimate Summertime Food Hack

With warmer weather comes al fresco dining, which means al fresco dining, and there's nothing more satisfying than grilling fish in your own backyard. Need a quick primer on how to grill wild salmon? Here’s how you do it.

First, consider that one of the reasons grilling food is such a unique and tasty experience is because natural charcoal provides a special smoky flavor that is hard to find elsewhere. Unfortunately, a gas grill does not provide the same experience, and mass produced charcoal briquets can leave the fish tasting like chemicals. You’ll want to use all natural hardwood charcoal for any salmon grilling you do this summer.

Dry Your Fish

To begin, as always, you’re going to want to pat dry the salmon to ensure that there is no excess moisture. You can use a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to do this.

Skin in the Game

By using fillets, you already have a built in advantage: the skin. Salmon skin acts as a natural barrier between the meat and the grill so the meat doesn’t burn. If you are using a salmon steak or some other cut of fish without skin, it’s a good idea to use some aluminum foil to create a layer between the fish and the grill. You can also sprinkle some kosher salt on the skin side of the fish to be doubly sure that it won’t stick.  

Aim for Moisture Retention

Many people swear by using king salmon on the grill. Because of its higher fat content, it’s easier to keep moist. However, that’s not to say that other types of salmon will dry out when grilled. Alas, there are steps you can take to ensure that salmon such as sockeye or coho will stay tasty. For example, instead of simply laying the fillet on a piece of tin foil, you can surround it in a tin foil pouch in order to keep the salmon’s natural juices close.

Go Time

You’ll need a “tower” to start the charcoal. Put some newspaper at the bottom of the tower and some charcoal on top of it, light it up, and in no time you’ll have some embers which to cook your salmon over. The salmon should cook for about 10 minutes assuming the fillet is about an inch thick. You can always take its internal temperature if you have a cooking thermometer handy. Aim for an internal temperature of 115-125.

The best part is that because the grill lid keeps the heat in, unlike pan frying, you don't necessarily have to flip the salmon. Just let the ambient heat cook the top, while the center cooks up from the bottom.

Here are some recipes for grilled wild salmon that we love:

  • This honey mustard recipe bring together sweet, savory, spicy and tangy notes.

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