Grilled salmon is one of the things I have to eat when I visit the Northwest. Like rain, it just has to happen. My in-laws introduced me to this delight just a few weeks after I married my Hubs. We spent our first summer living with them while he interned at Microsoft. My father-in-law was the backyard grill king, at least on his block. The last time we were visiting the family in Seattle, my sister-in-law brought home a salmon fresh from the boat. She has fostered a few relationships with fisher folk over the years, so she can skip the middle men and grocers. It was so fresh that there was no fishy smell. She did get them to gut it and cut off the head first.
I can remember when I lived in Michigan as a teenager, our family was given a fresh salmon by a neighbor one year. The salmon returned from the Atlantic through the Great Lakes to their little home rivers and streams all along Lake Huron where we lived. My mother had not grown up near the ocean or near any salmon runs, so she was not proficient in fish cooking or grilling. The neighbor had not cleaned or gutted that fish, either. What an adventure! Honestly, I am not sure if we ended up eating that fish or if mom threw it out. It was a huge mess.
So, definitely, if nothing else, buy a fish that has no head or any innards. Then use the following recipe. I cannot tell you how many times I have had salmon grilled this way. It is superb, sublime and even splendid.
- 1 whole salmon (preferably de-boned and cut into two halves for faster cooking)
- 1 fresh lemon, sliced (discard the ends)
- 1 package fresh dill
- ½ onion, sliced and separated into rings
- Lay the fish on foil wide enough to seal.
- Put the slices of lemon, onion rings and dill springs over the salmon and sprinkle liberally with pepper (see photo above).
- Top with other half of fish.
- Seal completely with foil.
- Lay on a preheated barbecue (I use a gas grill: heat on high, cook on low) and cook for about an hour.
- Check for done-ness by opening the foil and flaking with a fork.
- Do this test where the fish is at its thickest; that is the place that will be done last.