POV: The terrace is officially open, your group will come, and you’re in charge of more than just grilling the salmon—hi, menace—but also make sure it looks trendy. Before you fall into utter panic as you picture yourself fishing (pun intended) pieces of burnt salmon from between flaming grills with tongs, we’ve got you covered.
Cooking a nice salmon fillet on the grill can seem like one of the toughest tasks you’ll face during a long summer apart from wearing enough sunscreen. But with the help of a professional chef who has plenty of tips and tricks to grill salmon to perfection, you’ll be serving restaurant-worthy grilling in no time. Time to enable Weber.
Cook salmon on the grill without completely crumbling
According to Matthew Padilla, True Food Kitchen’s director of culinary innovation, there are two main factors that will make or break (pun intended) grilled salmon: Temperature and patience. “The trick is to preheat the grills and grills so that they are nice and hot—above 550ºF, or it will stick,” says Padilla. Also, Padilla recommends cleaning the grill with a brush before cooking fish to prevent sticking.
So how can you tell when the fish is ready to flip, aka the most stressful part? “You’ll know it’s ready to spin if it lifts off the grill easily. If it sticks, hold it a little longer,” says Padilla. In other words, be patient and don’t disturb the fish once you’ve put it down. When the fish is cooked, it undergoes the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction between amino acids (like proteins) and reducing sugars that results in the classic brown color and caramel flavor. Cooking fish over high heat is key to creating a crust and browning reaction that prevents the fish from sticking to the surface or breaking apart.
For restaurant-like diagonal grill markings and bonus points for presentation, Padilla recommends placing the fish at two o’clock (relative to the grates on the grill) and then rotating it to 10 o’clock when you have it. able to lift it without breaking it. Then he repeated the process on the other side to get the same visual effect on both sides.
How to grill salmon on a cedar board
Another easy way to ensure that your salmon doesn’t stick to the grill is to use a cedar board that also produces a delicious smoky flavor when cooked. “For cedar board salmon, I soak the boards for two to four hours before cooking. Then I heat up the grill, add the board, and let it heat for about five to seven minutes,” says Padilla. “Finally, I put a portion of skinless salmon on the board — with the skin side down — and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. But that can vary depending on the size of the salmon.”
For salmon that is tender, flaky and never dries out, Padilla recommends cooking it to medium done or until it reaches an internal temperature of about 135ºF to 140ºF. But if you like it on the rarer side, he says aim for 125ºF. For context, the average rare temperature is about 130ºF, the average temperature is 135ºF, and the average temperature is about 140ºF. However, keep in mind that the USDA recommends cooking fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF to prevent the risk of foodborne illness.
How to cook salmon with skin?
For super crispy skin, Padilla notes that cooking the salmon in the final pan is better than grilling. “For salmon with skin on, I prefer cooking in a sauté pan. I heat the pan and add olive oil. When the oil is just starting to smoke, I put the fish in, you should season before cooking both sides,” he said. He then says it’s important to carefully monitor the temperature of the pan by keeping it hot enough to burn the skin but not so hot that it burns the skin completely.
In general, Padilla says the process should take about three to four minutes, you’ll repeat the process on the other side. “Again, you’ll know if it’s ready to flip if it’s not sticky and nicely browned,” he says.
For the perfect taste, he recommends keeping it nice and simple. “I like better sea salt, but you can totally marinate it,” says Padilla. The choice is yours.
Next on the grill menu is an easy vegan sausage: