During our weekend at The Resort at Paws Up, we had the opportunity to learn how to get the best grilled salmon with the skin on. As part of the Cookbook Live weekend, Chefs Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, showed us how simple it is to grill a whole filet of salmon and shared their pro tips for grilling fish.
As Greg says, you want to set yourself up for success when grilling fish. Here are five of the most important tips:
- Clean the grill. The best way to clean a grill is when it’s hot. Once heated, you can use a grill brush or even use tongs with tin foil or an oiled rag. The Denton’s recommend a rag lightly dipped in vegetable oil, (not so wet that it’s dripping), to remove difficult bits.
- Get the grill hot to minimize sticking.
- Oil the grill. The Dentons brush the grill grate with oil and then close it for several minutes. Then they oil it again immediately before adding the fish.
- Oil the fish generously on both sides.
- Don’t touch the fish once you put it on the grill.
The Dentons recommend cooking fish with the skin on. According to the Dentons, you should always keep as much skin, bone, and fin on the fish as possible while cooking. It will result in the most flavorful and moist fish possible. You also don’t want to disturb the fish once you’ve put it on the grill (until it’s ready to flip). When grilling the salmon, you will be cooking it about 80-90% with the skin side down.
Score the skin on the thicker part of the salmon to promote even cooking (otherwise the thinner tail end will cook much more quickly). Make sure you season both the flesh and skin side generously with oil, salt, and pepper.
After the fish is off the grill, you’ll want to allow it to rest, similar to a steak. Don’t cover it, because it will cause your crispy fish skin to soften. Serve skin side up. The Dentons like to serve grilled salmon in large pieces, allowing guests to take as much or as little as they like. We tried these tips at home and our salmon turned out perfect. Get more tips on grilling from the Dentons in their book, Around the Fire: Recipes for Inspired Grilling and Seasonal Feasting from Ox Restaurant.
- 1 Filet of Salmon
- Vegetable OIl
- Prepare a clean grill by heating it to medium-high heat and oiling it well.
- Score the skin on the thicker end of the salmon filet, then season both sides of the salmon generously with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Oil the grate again immediately before adding the fish, and place the fish skin side down.
- Cook for about 7-10 minutes on the skin side, or until you see the juices start to bubble between the flesh and the skin.
- Using two large metal spatulas, gently lift a corner of the fish, testing to see whether it is ready to release. When it begins to release, use the spatulas to work down the entire length of the salmon one edge at a time to make sure that the salmon is ready to release and flip.
- Take both spatulas together, slide them under two ends of the fish, and flip the salmon backwards so that the skin is facing up and the flesh is facing down on the grill. Cook for a few minutes longer, then remove from the grill and rest. If you want to measure the temperature, 130°F will be cooked.