As much as we have tried, and want to, love (or even like) grilled salmon, we’ve yet to find a recipe that musters anything more than a “good-not-great” reaction from us. But we very much enjoy smoked salmon, and often have it for a weekend breakfast with cream cheese on a toasted English muffin, some finely chopped red onion or shallot, and maybe a little bit of diced hard-boiled egg and/or tomato. Dan will sometimes order salmon in a restaurant, but only when it is Copper River Salmon, which is only available for a limited amount of time once per year. So why don’t we like salmon? Mostly the taste. To us, salmon has one of those love it or hate it flavors, which is tough to describe, other than “it tastes like salmon.” I also have issues with the texture of salmon, which is a meaty fish. Grilled salmon will flake, but the texture is still pretty dense, which I don’t really prefer. So why do a post on grilled salmon if we don’t love it? Because salmon is amazingly healthy for you (with loads of protein and omega-3 fatty acids), and if you like salmon even a little, this recipe is a tasty way to prepare it, with a lightly spicy Asian marinade and good grill flavor. In the meantime, our quest for the perfect salmon dish — preferably one that doesn’t taste like salmon — continues.
Combine the marinade ingredients (for marinating 3-4, 6-ounce salmon steaks or fillets): 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil; 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil; 2 tablespoons soy sauce; 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar; 1 tablespoon brown sugar (original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons); 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce (original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes); 1-2 cloves minced garlic; 2-3 green onions (green parts only, chopped); 3/4 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger and salt & pepper to taste. In case anyone wonders, we added more brown sugar for more sweetness and to up the caramelization factor while grilling, and we substituted chili garlic sauce for red pepper flakes to add a bit more depth of flavor.
Salmon is such a beautiful fish — we really wish we liked it more! We bought about 1 1/2 pounds of wild-caught Alaskan salmon. It was already de-boned, so all we did was cut it into 3 equal pieces (to make it easier to more evenly grill each piece.) Place the salmon in a large resealable bag, pour in the marinade and maneuver the fish around until well-coated. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Remove the salmon to a plate, but don’t discard the marinade.
Pour the leftover marinade into a small pot and heat to boiling. This will kill any potential bacteria from the raw fish so you can use the marinade to baste the salmon while it’s cooking on the grill.
Place the salmon on the hot grill and cook over medium-high, direct heat for about 4-5 minutes.
Flip the salmon over and spoon or brush some of the leftover marinade over the top.
Continue cooking until the salmon is done — about 4-5 more minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. You can tell salmon is done when it is a consistent color and texture in the middle and flakes easily.
We served the salmon with a simple butter lettuce and radish salad. We really liked the subtle mix of Asian flavors and the way the marinade created a caramelized crust on top of the grilled fish. Too bad it still tasted like salmon.