We’re in the midst of grilling season. While we’re sure you haven’t run out of great grilling ideas, we’ve got one more to add to your list. When meat sounds too heavy, but veggies don’t sound substantial enough, try grilling salmon. Salmon is hearty enough to stand up to grilling, but it has a light texture and flavor that you can dress up any way you like. Keep reading to learn simple tips for grilling salmon.
Grilling Salmon: Choose Wisely
While you can grill a whole salmon, you’ll have better control over seasoning and cooking time with steaks or fillets. As with any type of fresh fish, plan to cook salmon the day you buy it. Give it a good sniff too — you don’t want a piece of salmon that smells fishy.
You can grill salmon with the skin or without it. Food Network recommends skin-on salmon to help hold the steak or fillet together as it cooks. If you choose skinless salmon, grill it on a greased sheet of foil. Punch some holes in the foil to allow juices to drain.
Grilling Salmon: Season Lightly
Less is more when it comes to adding flavor to your salmon. You may want nothing more than salt and pepper. If you’re looking for a stronger flavor, try adding fresh herbs or using a dry rub. You can marinate salmon too, but keep it brief. Fish soaks up flavor quickly.
Grilling Salmon: Grill Expertly
Be sure your grill is pre-heated and oiled before bringing out the salmon. The Spruce notes that not only will this help your salmon cook more evenly and thoroughly, it will also release from the grill readily. Whether you use an outdoor grill or a grill pan, don't skip this key step.
There are a couple different approaches you can take to grilling salmon. Food Network recommends starting with the skinless side down and the grill cover open. When you can easily flip the salmon, that’s exactly when it’s ready to flip. On the other hand, The Spruce calls for putting the salmon on the grill with the skin side down. Lower the grill cover and leave it to cook without flipping.
Regardless of whether you flip, cover, do both, or do neither, the general consensus is that an inch-thick salmon steak or fillet will take six to 10 minutes to cook. Watch for the fat to release — that’s your cue it’s time to take the fish off the grill. Then use a fork to check the middle of each piece. If your salmon is done, it will flake easily.
Finally, let your salmon rest before transferring to plates and serving. Because it will cook a bit more while resting, be sure you don’t let it overcook on the grill.