There’s something so beautiful about taking a few simple fresh ingredients and cooking them in a simple way that really celebrates the flavor of the ingredients themselves. This is how I feel when I cook salmon – especially Copper River salmon. It’s a splurge for us, and it’s seasonal, so it’s definitely not an everyday meal.
When I was first learning to cook, ingredients like this intimidated me. I was terrified that I would screw it up. In the case of seafood, I’ve definitely torn up fillets of fish in my time, usually because I wouldn’t get a pan hot enough and the fish would stick. Even more so, I had trouble with fish sticking to a grill, even in spite of a good oiling of the grates and of the meat. It was a nemesis of mine, as I love the flavor of fish on the grill. But combine infrequency of my seafood purchases with my past fish-devastating history, and I was pretty apprehensive, to say the least. I stuck to baking salmon, often setting fillets on top of lemon slices or onion slices to add a bit of flavor.
And that’s when it dawned on me. Why not transfer those lemon slices to the grill? I’d still get that lemon flavor in the fish, but as a bonus, the lemon slices might stick to the grill, but my precious salmon wouldn’t! That meant I could get that delicious grill flavor on even an expensive piece of fish without mangling it. I could simply place the lemon slices on the grill, lay the salmon on top, and grill away.
The result? It totally worked. Not only worked, but it was simple to make, and it was really awesome. The salmon emerged from the grill succulent, with a few delectable crispy edges, and a lovely balance of flavors from the lemon, the grill, and some dill that was scattered on top. Ultimately, it was a fish worth celebrating.
So now I can cook fish on a grill without fear! What’s next? What foods are you intimidated by?
Grilled Lemon-Dill Sockeye Salmon (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free)
1 large raw salmon fillet (about 1 – 1 1/2 lbs), skin on
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
A few sprigs of fresh dill
2 lemons, sliced thinly
Preheat your grill to medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, rub the olive oil all over the salmon fillet on both sides. Season with salt and pepper and scatter the dill on top.
When the grill is ready, lay the lemon slices out in a single layer on the grill grates long and wide enough for the salmon to lay on top. Carefully lay the salmon fillet on top. Close the grill lid and allow to cook until the salmon is just cooked through (the flesh should firm and become more opaque and should no longer jiggle. If you like it a little more rare, pull it just before it’s really flaking with a fork), about 8-10 minutes. Remove and cut into serving sizes.