Mission Possible: Grilling Salmon Fillets

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You know I love fish and seafood and one of the tastiest fish has to be salmon. Canada boasts some of the best salmon in the world (both Atlantic and Pacific). Much of what we eat is farm-raised but wild salmon is also still sold and frankly, preferred. Salmon is sold whole, in steaks (with bones) and my preferred cut, the fillet.

A whole salmon (or half) is fantastic if you’re serving a large gathering but the fillet is ideal for individual servings: there’s no pin bones, cooks relatively evenly and it’s versatile. A salmon fillet can be poached, baked in parchment, pan-seared, steamed, smoked or grilled. Gulp…did I suggest grilling a salmon fillet? I’m going to share how I grill a salmon fillet without leaving have the fish stuck on your grill.

salmon is opaque on sides of fish - time to flip

Each and every time I’ve shared a grilling recipe I’ve emphasized that you need to pre-heat your gas or charcoal grill, clean the grill surface with a wire bush and then lubricate the grill surface with a towel dampended in vegetable oil. If you follow these steps, you will have a perfectly grilled salmon with crispy skin (almost as good as bacon) and the meat will be just opaque and succulent.

You also need patience. I always grill the skin-side first as this is my preferred presentation side and the crispy skin won’t get mushy. If you grill your fish skin-side first yhave to simply let the gril and heat do it’s work for you. The salmon will cook mostly on one side and when you flip it on the bare side of the fillet, just a few minutes more are needed.

Much like grilling whole fish, the skin will detach from the grill when it’s ready, it needs no coaxing from you…just patience. This dinner came together rather quickly and when I’m eating fish, simplicity usually wins over. The salmon was rubbed with olive oil then seasoned with salt, pepper and some lemon zest.

Under the salmon is a potato salad consisting of diced spuds, red onions, red & yellow peppers, garlic, mustard, olive oil, wine vinegar. I’ve added some tarragon with it’s anise flavour and healthy, from the garden and tangy purslane leaves.

The other side is some sweet corn that I rubbed with olive oil and sweet paprika and simply grilled it on all sides. Then, I squeezed some lime juice and grated lots of Feta cheese over the corn. Grate Feta? Go cut a baton of Feta and place it in your freezer and by the time you’re done reading the recipe you’ll fine out why.

Grilled Salmon With Tarragon Potato Salad & Grilled Corn With Feta & Lime

(serves 4)

4 salmon fillets (6oz. each)

olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

coarse sea salt

fresh ground pepper

wedges of lemon

Tarragon Potato Salad

4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced

1/2 cup diced red onions

1/4 cup diced red peper

1/4 diced yellow pepper

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 heaping Tbsp. of Dijon-style mustard

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3-4 Tbsp. of wine vinegar

1 cup purslane

3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

 salt and pepper to taste

Grilled corn with Feta and Lime

4 whole corn on the cob

olive oil

2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 cup grated Feta cheese

wedges of lime

  1. To make your potato salad, place your diced potatoes in a pot with cold water ans some salt and bring to a boil. Simmer until the potatoes are just tender and strai. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes then add into a bowl with the remaining potato salad ingrdients (best results when potatoes are still warm). Toss all the ingredients and adjust seasoning/taste accordingly. Set aside. In the meantime, place some batons of Feta cheese in your freeze for about 20 minutes. This will allow you to grate the Feta with a box grater (for your grilled corn).
  2. Pre-heat your gas or charcoal grill. Brush your grill surface very well and aim for a medium-high heat. Rinse and pat-dry your fillets and rob both sides with olive oil and then sprinkle lemon zest on both sides of the fish followed by seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Peel back the husks of your corn and remove the silk. Rub the corn with olive and sprinkle with smoked paprika (go on, rub it in with your hands).
  4. Once you’ve determined your grill is hot (medium-high) , take some kitchen towel and dunk it in some vegetable oil and wipe your grill surface. Now place your salmon fillets skin-side down on your grill along with your corn. Grill the salmon for 6-7 minutes without touching the fish at all! The fish will be ready to flip when it appears opaque on the sides of the fish. Carefully test to see if the fish doesn’t stick to the grill. Flip the salmon and grill for another 2-3 minutes. Grill your corn on all sides whilst grilling the fish.
  5. Remove your fish and corn from the grill and reserve. Divide and plate your potato salad in the center of each dish (I used a ring mold) and place the salmon on top. Take the Feta cheese out of your freezer and use a box grater to grate some cheese on the part of the plate where the corn will lay. Place your corn on the grated Feta, squueze some lime juice and grate some more Feta on top. Top each fish with a dollop of my Purslane Tzatziki and serve with a Pavlou Estate P11 Blanc Noir, made of Xinomavro & Riesling.

© 2011,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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17 Comments for “Mission Possible: Grilling Salmon Fillets”


Peter, thanks for sharing your tips for a perfectly grilled salmon, I love it that way, it’s my favorite :)
Thanks for stopping by, your comment on my Baklava was highly appreciated as you are the “Greek Chef” who cooks everything wonderfully!


Υπέροχα ψημένος ο σολομός στην σχάρα και με την πατατοσαλάτα συνδυάζεται πολύ όμορφα!
Φιλιά, καλή βδομάδα!!!


Looks absolutely delicious, and can’t wait to try out the frozen feta. I love feta, on everything, so this will be a fun new ‘trick’ to try. I usually end up heating up a separate foil pan with some olive oil any time I want to do fish on the grill, but I like your method better as it cuts down on the oil needed to cook the fish…will give this a try this weekend!


Great tip about wiping the hot grill with an oil-soaked paper towel. Question: when you grill the first side of the salmon (pic 2), do you close the BBQ lid?


i love salmon cooked this way, but i have to admit, i usually make a mess of it, so this advice is going to prove very helpful


I was always squeamish about wiping an oil-soaked towel on a hot grill; what if it catches on fire? What if I turn into a ball of fire and make my children orphans in a couple of minutes? A costly lesson due to my gourmandise. So I will leave grilling to the male gender.
Great tip about freezing feta, thanks!