Once you master the art of cooking salmon, or any stately fish, you realize you can’t go back to pizza as your quick weeknight meal. Grilling fish is faster, easier, and more delicious than baking a frozen pizza any day.
On sweltering summer days when the heat index is at 103 degrees, I want the quick-cooking, flakiness of fish covered in a cool, salty-sweet salsa.
The Best Fish Recipe for Summer
This recipe is all about plating the beauty of summer. Pink fish set against the brilliant greens, oranges, and soft whites of cucumber, mangoes, and jalapeno pepper. The entire dish is layered with flavor, but each speaks well to the other – neither fish, nor fruit, nor spice dominates the dish.
Grilled salmon is filling and satisfying but it won’t weigh you down, and the fresh cucumber mango salsa cools you from the inside out. Salmon season reaches its peak during the summer months as do cucumbers, peppers, and mango. This recipe is a celebration of the season!
What’s the Best Salmon for Grilling?
King (Chinook), coho, sockeye, keta, and pink salmon provide 95 percent of the wild salmon harvested in the United States. The first four are the best for grilling because of the firm texture of the flesh.
- Sockeye and king salmon have the boldest flavor and the highest oil content.
- Coho and keta salmon are both milder in flavor and might be better choices for introducing newcomers to salmon.
- Pink salmon has a mild flavor and soft flesh. It’s the least expensive and most readily available variety of salmon. It’s usually sold as canned salmon, but if you do come across it as a fillet feel free to grill it, but know it’s not as likely to hold together.
Both pink and keta have lower oil content, which means they should be grilled at a slightly lower temperature than the other varieties listed. Still sear them on high, according to this recipe, but for a shorter period of time before flipping them and transferring them to the cooler side of the grill.
How to Grill Salmon: Cooking Time and Technique
Elise Bauer founded Simply Recipes, and she has an excellent tutorial on how to grill salmon so the fish doesn’t fall apart on your grill. The trick is to start cooking the fish by placing the salmon fillets flesh-side down and skin side to the sky, then flip and finish cooking the fillet. You get great grill marks and your fish stays in one piece.
To make sure this technique works for you:
- Always start with clean, well-oiled grill grates. Vegetable oil works great here.
- Create a two-zone grill. One side should be hot direct heat, and the other side should be cooler indirect heat.
- Brush the skin side with oil and the flesh side with the seasoning. (It has oil in it.)
- Place the salmon flesh side down over high heat. Close the lid and cook for one to three minutes.
- Open the lid and, using tongs and a spatula, carefully flip the fillets skin side down placing the fillet over the cooler side of the grill. Cook for an additional two to five minutes, depending on how thick your fillets are.
- Check out our list of The Best Grills.
- Keep your grates clean with one of our picks for The Best Grill Brushes.
Can I Still Make This Recipe If I Don’t Have a Grill?
Yes! Wrap a baking sheet in foil, place the salmon on the sheet skin side down and place it under your broiler for about seven to nine minutes, depending upon how thick your fillets are. That’s it!
Salmon is ready when it flakes easily and is slightly opaque in the center. Once you’ve overcooked fish, you can’t really save it. It’s best to err on the side of undercooked. You can always put it back in the oven.
How to Make Cucumber Mango Salsa
Cucumber Mango Salsa is a light, refreshing topping that makes the most of those green, oblong beauties.
For this recipe, I combined the sweetness of mango and a little kick from jalapenos. It’s easy to assemble. If you don’t have mangos laying around, feel free to use peaches instead. This salsa is absolutely delicious with peaches. The key is to dice the fruit vegetables small – think of the size of a pencil eraser.
Love Salmon? Try These Recipes!
Grilled Salmon With Cucumber Mango Salsa
- For the salmon:
- 4 (6 ounce) salmon portions, skin on
- Zest from 1 lime
- Juice from 1/2 lime
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper or chili powder
- For the cucumber salsa:
- 1 (5- to 6-inch) cucumber
- 1 mango
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- Juice from half a lime
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Prepare the grill:
Make sure your grill grates are clean. Have your grilling spatula, tongs and a clean platter or plate by the grill. Set up a two-zone grilling method, with one side of the grill hotter than the other.
If using gas, set the burners on one side at medium-high heat, and the other on medium.
For charcoal, pile the briquettes higher on one side than the other but make sure you still have about 3 inches of space between the briquettes and the grill grates.
Prepare the salmon:
In a small bowl, combine lime zest and juice from half of the lime, salt, olive oil, and chili pepper. Brush some oil on the skin side of the salmon. Then brush the lime mixture on the flesh side of the salmon. Make sure the zest is evenly distributed. Set it in the fridge while you prepare the salsa.
Make the salsa:
Peel the cucumber, then slice it in half lengthwise. You should have two, long half-moon shaped cucumbers. Use a spoon and drag it from one end of the cucumber to the other to remove the seeds. Place the cucumber flat side down, and cut into thin strips about the width of a pencil, then cross-cut them into small dice.
For the mango, peel and slice the halves off from the center seed, cut into thin strips, then cross-cut into small dice. Add the cucumber and mango to a medium bowl, then add the cilantro, red onion, juice from the remaining half lime, minced garlic clove, jalapeño pepper, and salt. Toss to combine.
Grill the salmon:
Use grilling tongs, dip a wad of folded paper towels in vegetable oil. Rub it on the grill grates, both the hot and cooler sides. Place the salmon on the hot side of the grill flesh side down, and skin side to the sky. Close the lid and cook the salmon for 1-3 minutes, depending on how thick your fillets are.
Lift the lid, and, using tongs and spatula, carefully slide the spatula under the salmon while holding it with the tongs and place the salmon skin-side down on the cooler side of the grill. Grill for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how thick your fillets are. Salmon should flake easily and be slightly opaque in the center.
Top with salsa and serve:
Transfer the salmon to the clean platter, give the pico a quick stir, and spoon some over each portion.