How to cook salmon on the grill so it's perfect every time
There are few things better than throwing back a few brewskis and lighting up the grill come summertime. Rather than going with greasy burgers and questionable hot dogs, however, why not try a healthier option like fish? Grilling salmon gives it a smokier, lighter flavor and extra crispy skin. Here's how to grill salmon so it's cooked perfectly every time.
Step 1: Prepare the grill
Before grilling, you'll want to make sure your grill is well-seasoned to keep the fish from sticking and to help it cook evenly. First, with the grill off, clean the grates using a wire grill brush. Next, coat the cold grates evenly with a light layer of high heat cooking oil, like canola. Then, ignite the grill and heat for about 15 minutes, or until the oil burns off and the grill begins to smoke.
Note: If your grill has porcelain grates, you don't need to season it.
Step 2: Prepare the salmon
Pat the salmon with a paper towel until it's dry. (If it's wet, the salmon will steam rather than sear on the grill.) Then, brush both sides of the fish with oil and season with coarse Kosher salt.
If you want to use a marinade on your salmon, only let it marinate for 30 minutes to an hour, otherwise the acid could alter the soft texture of the fish and make it tougher.
Note: Make sure you're using skin-on salmon, as this will help hold it together on the grill.
Step 3: Place salmon on the grill
Place your salmon on the grill set to medium heat diagonally—this will make it easier to flip later. If you prefer crispier skin, place the fish skin-side down first. If not, cook it flesh-side down first.
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Once you've placed your salmon on the grill, don't touch it! Cover the grill and let it cook for about 5 minutes or until the side you've placed on the grill has a nice, golden sear. You can check it by gently lifting up an edge with a spatula.
Step 4: Flip the salmon
When it's ready to flip, use a flat spatula to flip it over. If it has a nice sear to it, it shouldn't stick and should be easy to flip.
The length of time it takes your fish to cook will depend on its size. A 1-inch thick piece of salmon will take roughly 8-10 minutes to cook. Once it's done, it should be firm and crispy on the outside, and flaky and opaque on the inside.
Step 5: Let it rest
Once your salmon is done, take it off the grill and let it rest for a few minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.
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