Well, summer has finally come to Sacramento. After weeks of remarkably pleasant 80-degree weather, the hundreds have arrived. Yesterday 108°F. Today, 104°F. And when the mercury goes up, the grill comes out. Who wants to heat up the kitchen when the AC is barely hanging in there? My friend Suzanne cooks outdoors on her grill all summer long. A few days ago we got together to cook some salmon, and she showed me her favorite method of grilling salmon, quick and easy. There are lots of marinades you can use with salmon; I’ve included four here. Suzanne usually just uses a simple soy sauce and minced garlic marinade. I tend to get a little fancier with the addition of mirin rice wine, ginger, and sugar.
Do you have a favorite way to prepare grilled salmon? A favorite salmon marinade? If so, please let us know about it in the comments.
- 1 1/2 to 3 pounds salmon fillets, skin-on (figure 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person)
- Canola, olive, or grapeseed oil
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
Basic teriyaki marinade:
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1-inch nob of fresh ginger root, grated
- 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 to 4 Tbsp brown sugar
Teriyaki marinade with mirin:
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine) or seasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup minced green onions
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Pinch chili pepper flakes
Yakitori marinade with sake:
- 1/2 cup sake
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- A dash of red chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup white sugar
1 Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl. If sugar is an ingredient in the marinade you are using, stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
2 Cut filles 1 1/2 to 2-inches wide. Place marinade ingredients in a large casserole dish (or a plate with sides so the marinade doesn't run). Coat the salmon fillets in the marinade and then place them skinless-side down in the marinade. Marinate for 20 minutes for a quick marinade (can do this at room temperature while you are preparing the grill) or if you have more time from 1-2 hours chilled in the refrigerator. Before grilling, remove fillets from marinade and discard marinade.
3 Prepare grill for high direct heat (if you are using a charcoal grill, allow one side of the grill with much fewer coals for indirect heating). When the grill is good and hot, spray or brush oil generously on both sides of fish fillets. Place fillets on grill, skinless side down first, so that they can get nice grill marks on the hot grill while the fish is still firm. Close the grill lid. Cook 1-3 minutes on the first side, depending on how thick the fillets are.
Once the fish fillets have been placed on the grill, do not move them until you are going to flip them over, otherwise they may fall apart.
4 Look for grill marks on the fish and a small layer of opaque (cooked) fish where the fish is closes to the grill. Using tongs, and a metal spatula if necessary, carefully turn the fish onto the other side, so that the skin side is now on the grill grates. If you are using a charcoal grill, the fillets should be placed on the side of the grill furthest from the coals. If you are using a gas grill, just reduce the flame to medium. Close the grill lid. Cook for another 2-5 minutes, again depending on the thickness of the fillets. Salmon should be just barely opaque throughout when done.
Better to err on the side of undercooking the salmon, rather than overcooking. You can always put the fish back on the grill, but once a good fillet is overcooked, there's nothing you can do.
Remove from grill and serve immediately.