It’s the time of year when we are receiving order after order of the whole salmon… If you need some guidance on how to cook the thing for a beautiful presentation, here ya go. If you don’t get it just right you could end up with a mess of mangled salmon all over your grill. Use care… read on…
One (6 – 8 lb) whole salmon, gutted and scaled
3 lemons, thinly sliced
1 small bunch of fresh dill and/or other herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or marjoram, chopped coarsely
Prepare the fish by making several deep diagonal incisions with a sharp knife, 1 to 2 in apart, in each side of the fish. Cut down almost to the spine. This helps the salmon cook more quickly and evenly.
Rub some sea salt into the skin. Sprinkle more sea salt and the chopped herbs inside the cavity of the fish, and stuff it with the slices of one lemon. Brush or spray the fish lightly with olive oil.
Here’s the key… SEASON YOUR GRATE. It takes starting with a clean grill, and oil, oil, and more oil. First, clean the grate until it’s as good as new. Use a towel or folded paper towel, dunk it in oil, and heavily coat your grate until shiny. Spray, towel, brush. Spray, towel, AND brush – whatever…just get it on there nice and thick. Now you’re ready to grill.
Lay the remaining lemon slices (or substitute any citrus) on the hot grill immediately before placing the fish on. The citrus slices also help prevent the fish from sticking to the grill. They will mostly burn away during the time the fish cooks, and impart a mild flavor to the fish.
Close the lid on the grill and let it cook for about 25 minutes. Check progress regularly and turn down the heat if the skin of the fish is getting charred. The flesh of the fish becomes a pale pink when cooked. Look at the flesh in the cuts to judge how well it is baked, and remove the fish from the grill before it is cooked all the way to the spine. The fish will continue to cook a while after being removed from the heat.
Lift the fish from the grill with a couple of spatulas, scooping underneath the lemon slices, and place on a platter. Garnish with some dill sprigs and lemon slices.
The portions of fish between the diagonal cuts should lift easily off the bone and be about one serving. When one side is served, you can usually lift-off head and spine and serve the other half without having to turn the fish.
Check out this amazing article from the SF Gate… this is a MUST READ if you are about to attempt this whole fish grilling for the first time. You will also find a recipe for Green Herb Salsa, Green Curry Sauce, and a Seafood BBQ Sauce.