Thursday, October 17, 2013

Grilled Salmon, YUM!

Grilled Salmon is one of things that restaurants have figured out, but that most people fail miserably at when they try it at home.  This is completely understandable.  After all, raw Salmon is a fragile and delicate thing, and grills are hot and mean and when the two of them get together, the result is often a broken mushy mess of burnt salmon, stuck to the grill grates to be burned to a crisp as the charcoal eventually fades.  Nobody wants that...

To grill Salmon properly, keeping the delicate texture together while infusing some sweetness, some spicy heat, and some aromatic citrus, is way easier than you think!

You will need:
  • 1 or 2 full SKIN-ON whole filets of Salmon
  • Non-Stick Aluminum Foil
  • 1 Lime
  • Olive Oil
  • Salmon Rub, Equal amounts of the following:
    • Fresh Chili Powder
    • Dark Brown Sugar
    • Fresh Ground Pepper
    • Kosher Salt
    • Garlic Powder
  • Chopped Cilantro 

First, some questions.  Question 1, "Is it that important to buy skin-on Salmon for grilling?"  Yes.  The skin is added protection against moisture loss and heat reflection.  You won't eat the skin, but it will serve an important purpose.  Question 2, "Non-stick foil?  Are you kidding me with this?"  No.  Non-stick aluminum foil is a marvelous invention, especially for grilling.  Always have some on hand, but know that it's more expensive than regular foil so you probably won't want to use it to replace all of your aluminum foil needs.

Roll out some non-stick foil onto a cutting board.  Lay your Salmon filets, skin side down, onto the non-stick foil.  Drizzle some Olive oil all over the top of the fish and spread it evenly around with your fingers.  Squeeze the juice from 1/2 of your lime onto the fish also, worth this around as evenly as you can.  Now, generously shake your new Salmon rub all over the fish.  Don't get too crazy, but don't be shy either.  Shake it on like you would shake on a liberal application of Parmesan cheese to a big plate of spaghetti.  Now, leave the fish alone on the counter to rest, while you get the fire ready.

Start a bunch of charcoal, then spread them in a big oval around the edges of your grill.  You'll be placing the fish on the grates over the middle, the idea being to make sure the Salmon isn't sitting directly over some super hot charcoal.  The foil and the skin will deflect most direct heat, but you don't want some of your fish to be over-cooked while the rest is perfectly done, so try to spread the charcoal to the back, or the front and/or sides of the grill.  Close the lid and let the grill pre-heat a bit.

The fun part begins...

You need to slide the foil off of your cutting board, and onto your grill (with the Salmon still on, of course).  The interesting part of this exercise is, the Salmon is slippery, and so is the non-stick foil, and you've added olive oil to the equation so... don't let it all slide onto the grill or it will all stick and gum together and you'll go hungry.  Your grill will be hot, but you should be able to slide the foil onto the surface, and then quickly slide it to position it so the fish is in the "middle" of the fire ring below.  Now, close the lid and let it "cook" in your new charcoal oven for ten or fifteen minutes before taking it's temperature.

A Word about Temperature and Doneness...

Our Food and Drug Administration says that Salmon is "Safe" at 145 degrees.  I agree, it's certainly safe at that temperature, but it's also dry, rubbery, and not something I'd be proud to serve.  If you purchase quality salmon from a reputable source, and you are grilling it within 24 hours of it's purchase, having kept it at a safe cold temperature prior to the cooking process, then 130-135 degrees is the perfect temperature for serving grilled Salmon.  Use a probe and take it's temperature in the thickest part of the filet.  If you want to use the whole filet for presentation, it should slide right off the non-stick foil and onto a platter.  When you cut the Salmon into portions, the portions of fish should slide right off the skin and onto your serving utensil!

Slice the other 1/2 of the lime for individual serving, and garnish the top of the Salmon with fresh chopped Cilantro and serve!

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