Back to Basics: Grilled Salmon with Herbed Yogurt Sauce

Our friends just returned from Alaska and brought over some wild caught silver salmon for dinner.  Oh my!  I wanted the flavor of the fish to really shine, so I simply brushed it with olive oil, salt and white pepper before grilling.  I served it with a cool, herb-y yogurt showcasing the fresh herbs running rampant in our garden.

Grilling fish is a simple, healthy and delicious choice for meals at home.  Some people are intimidated by the idea of grilling fish.  Don’t be!  This method of using direct and then indirect heat to cook fish on the grill works every time.  I’ve written specific instructions for using both charcoal and gas grills.

I hope you’ll experiment with this method for grilling fish.  I learned it by reading Barton Seaver’s For Cod and Country – a great primer for anyone interested in preparing seafood.  For guidance in making the best possible choice when purchasing seafood, visit Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.

GRILLED SALMON WITH HERBED YOGURT SAUCE

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 12 large basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Four 5-ounce portions salmon filet
  • olive oil, salt, white pepper
  1. For the sauce, combine the sour cream, yogurt, basil, dill, green onions, salt and pepper in a food processor.  Add one teaspoon of lemon juice and taste for seasoning.  Add additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate sauce until ready to use.
  2. Rinse the salmon and pat it dry with a paper towel.  If the skin is on, leave it on.  Brush the filets on both sides with olive oil.  Sprinkle the filets with salt and white pepper.  Set them aside at room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling.
  3. If you’re using a charcoal grill, use a chimney to light the coals. Let the coals burn to red embers. Turn the coals out into the grill, keeping them to one side. This will be the “hot” side of the grill. The other side of the grill should have no coals under it, it will be the “cool” side.  If you are using a gas grill, turn all of your burners on low and allow the grill to heat up.
  4. When the grill is ready, lightly oil the grill grate (I douse a paper towel with oil and use tongs to rub it over the grill). For a charcoal grill:  Place the fish on the grill over the hot coals, skin side down. Close the cover and wait 3 minutes. Remove the cover, rotate the grill grate so that the fish is over the “cool” side of the grill and cover again.  It may take only 2-3 more minutes for your fish to be cooked through depending on the thickness of your filets.  Gently separate the filet with a knife to see if it flakes – if yes – then it’s ready!  For a gas grill: Instead of rotating the grill, with a gas grill, you will turn the heat on and off under the fish.  Place the fish on the grill over direct heat, skin side down.  Close the lid and wait 3 minutes.  Turn the burners directly under the fish OFF, leaving another burner or two on low, and close the lid again.  It may take only 2-3 more minutes for your fish to be cooked through depending on the thickness of your filets.  Gently separate the filet with a knife to see if it flakes – if yes – then it’s ready!
  5. Remove the fish from the grill and turn it onto a serving platter.  Serve it with the herbed yogurt sauce.  Simply delicious!

 

Adapted from: Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa PARTIES! and Bartons Seaver’s For Cod and Country

 

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