Sorry, Cooking For Engineers has reorganized. This page isn't going to display quite right anymore... You will be redirected immediately or click here to be forwarded immediately.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Recipe File: Grilled Salmon

Recently, I decided to reintroduce salmon into my diet because salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. But, Tina finds that cooked salmon is usually very dense, chewy, and not very tasty. The easiest salmon recipe I know is simply to sprinkle lemon-pepper on salmon, optionally add some garlic slices, and bake at 350°F. Unfortunately, unless you enjoy the natural cooked flavors of salmon, this dish isn't that compelling. Lucky for me, the July & August 2004 issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine contained a quick recipe for Glazed Salmon. Not only is this recipe easy to make, it tastes excellent.

First I took a large fillet of salmon and cut into pieces, each about 8 oz. (225 grams).

I measured out 1/3 cup soy sauce and 1/3 cup maple syrup.

After mixing the soy sauce and maple syrup together, I poured it into a 9x13 in. pan. I placed the salmon filets flesh side down into the mixture. In my case, I had more salmon than could fit in a single pan, so I whipped up another batch of soy sauce and maple syrup for the extra pieces. I slipped these into the refrigerator while preparing the glaze.

I then poured 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and a 1/4 cup of maple syrup into a small saucepan. I then brought it to a simmer and held it there for a couple minutes to thicken up into a glaze. I set aside two tablespoons for use later and took the rest outside to the grill (which I turned on).

I took the salmon out of the refrigerator and liberally covered the flesh of the fillets with fresh ground black pepper.

I took the salmon out to my preheated grill. After soaking a paper towel in some vegetable oil, I used a pair of tongs and rubbed the grill with oil to keep the fish from sticking. Then, I placed the salmon flesh side down on the grill over high heat for three minutes.

I flipped the salmon over (still on high heat) and brushed some glaze over each piece (onto the exposed flesh).

After two minutes (when the thickest part of the filet has been cooked about halfway through), I brushed more glaze onto the flesh and flipped them over onto the low heat side of the grill.

After another two minutes, the salmon is done. Brush the reserved glaze on and it's ready to serve. If cooked properly, the salmon should have a nice crust as well as a soft almost flaky interior. (If it flakes easily, then it's a bit overcooked.)

The final judgment? Tina liked it - so it's a keeper.

Grilled Salmon (serves 6)
Preheat grill
1/3 cup soy saucemixsoak
1/3 cup maple syrup
6 8 oz. salmon filletspeppergrill flesh downgrill skin downgrill flesh down on low
2 Tbs. soy saucereduce
1/4 cup maple syrup
Copyright Michael Chu 2004

posted by Michael Chu @ 9/29/2004 09:42:12 PM   20 comments
Toggle Printer Friendly   Toggle commentsPost a Comment  


At 5:36 AM, Kevin said...

What an excellent site this is.

I'm an expat American living in Belgium and cooking is my hobby. Over here discussing things like the benefits of omega-3 and the horrible dangers of hydrogenated fat are normal, I did not think many in the States were aware of these things. I am very happy to see that you are spreading the word Mike. Nowadays people spend a fortune on schools for their children and still pump them full of trans fats. A simple step like upping the omega-3 and eliminating hydrogenated fats would add many IQ points on to your little loved ones brains.

I too recently reintroduced salmon into my family's diet to increase our omega-3 intake. The problem with salmon is that the best type, wild salmon, is rare and expensive. The standard cultivated version is fed with pellets that contain dangerous chemicals. Luckily here in Belgium we now have organic cultivated salmon, which is much, much lower in pollutants.

I think the best way to serve salmon is from a recipe in the pink Chez Pannise cookbook, grilled salmon with a tomato/basil vinaigrette sauce. I bet my children would like this glazed recipe that you have presented today Mike so I'm going to give it a try.

BTW if you are interested, I can send over a translation of some simple recipes that are currently quite popular with home cooks in France and Belgium.

At 7:00 AM, Al and Lou said...

what a great blog you have here it is going in my favorites

At 12:19 PM, Michael Chu said...


You're welcome to post recipes in the forum for everyone to enjoy. I read the forum as well and sometimes bake or cook something that strikes me as interesting and convenient.


At 2:49 PM, supergood said...

And what is wrong with the natural flavour of cooked salmon?! Ok, so its not quite as good as Tuna, but its still pretty tasty.

If I was grilling it like you did, I would do skin side first, and turn it just once.

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous said...

As a college student, I stare, mouth-watering, at these recipes.

Is it possible for one to grill on low with a george forman?
put two forman's next to each other, turn one on, and cook on the other...?

Or should I just avoid grilling recipes that require any precision?


At 9:38 AM, Michael Chu said...

re: George Foreman grills

Since the George Foreman electric grill doesn't have high/low settings, I would grill the salmon on an open grill (or for half the time with the grill closed). You'll have to be real careful when watching the salmon to make sure it doesn't get overdone while you are finishing the cooking.

The problem with constant high heat is that the outside gets fully cooked (and over cooked) before the insides are done. Low heat cooking allows a more even temperature rise within the food being cooked (especially for larger pieces of meat). My suggestion is to give it a try; the results should still be more than satisfactory.


At 4:15 PM, Shy said...

You're site is better than a betty crocker cookbook as far as directions and pictures go. Thanks for being excellent. i shall now have ideas for dinner other than Wendy's.

At 1:07 AM, Dzeni said...

Cool title for a blog :) This is certainly the place to come for cooking tips.

Salmon is the best fish ever. But not baked! We are spoiled over here in NZ where our food tastes wonderful. Here's how salmon gets prepared in my house.

- Buy fresh salmon fillets
- Remove skin and bones
- Cut salmon into portions (similar size to the glazed salmon recipe)
- Marinade in fresh lemon juice for at least 6 hours (we have a lemon tree out back - very handy)
- Once marinaded, fry the salmon in a non stick frying pan. Don't add oil. Remember to put extractor fan on as it can smell quite strong.
- Season the salmon with salt and pepper before turning in the frying pan
- Serve with hot potatoes (we just boil the potatoes and serve with a touch of cheese dip).

At 8:42 PM, Anonymous said...

I like your site, but I'm wondering why your grid setup for explaining the ingredients and steps doesn't include time.

At 1:28 AM, Michael Chu said...

re: time in recipe summaries

I don't typically include time in the recipe summaries because it isn't too meaningful unless a specific temperature is specified (as in baking). Time isn't all that accurate of a means to convey how long to cook something since humidity, ambient temperature, and other factors will affect cooking time. Also, I leave it out to save space in the summary.

For this specific recipe, it's more important to grill the flesh and skin to form a crust than for any specific time. Hope it's not too inconvenient that it's been left out, but hopefully you read the whole article and the summary is there to remind you to do certain steps - not to replace the article.


At 11:15 AM, Jonathan said...

Thanks for the recipe, I'll try it.

Salmon is good for you, but just FYI - Farm-raised salmon does not have the Omega 3 fatty acids because it gets those from the micro-organisms it feeds on in the wild.

At 6:48 PM, Stu said...

I love salmon. We buy it frozen in individual portions and then we microwave it for 3- 4 minutes for a very quick meal with some minute brown rice.

At 12:58 AM, Anonymous said...


Can I use honey instead of maple syrup?Because i sometimes use honey to glaze my 5 spice roast chicken.

would that taste weird?


My Name Is Fake

At 1:42 AM, Michael Chu said...

re: Honey substitution

No, honey would not taste weird. The substitution for honey can be made one for one with maple syrup. Just go ahead and use 1/3 cup honey instead of 1/3 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup honey in the glaze instead of the 1/4 cup maple syrup. Should taste great!

At 4:40 PM, mopsey said...

As an Oregonian, I'd say the best way to eat fish is to dock the boat and fire up the grill. If you must add anything to the fish, sprinkle with fresh garlic salt. Not sure how to do that? Take the skin off a clove of garlic, place it on a pile of kosher salt and smush it with the flat blade of a knife. Mince the garlic on top of the salt. The fresh garlic juices will be caught in the salt and will intensify the flavor. Spread it on the fish and grill. Voila.

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous said...

Good lord! The only reason you have "dense, chewy, and not very tasty" salmon is because you're over-cooking it! When learning to pan fry it you should use a fork to pull back some of the meat in the middle. Most of the meat should look opaque pink, but the middle should be just a little bit translucent and raw looking. It's done! Take if off now! Quick! You want to remove it from the heat BEFORE it's totally cooked. The meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat. ... The salmon is safe to eat undercooked (like most fresh fish), so if you take it off much too early then don't worry, it will still taste great. At any rate it is much better undercooked than overcooked. ... If you do overcook your salmon the best thing to do with it is to let it cool in the fridge overnight then make sandwiches out of it - chop it up and add mayo. It's good in a soft roll.

At 12:24 PM, Anonymous said...

I just made this dish, and it was excellent.

However I made a few changes to it.

1) Added a little bit of lemon into the Maple Syrup / Soy mix, I thought the acidity would help it marinade better. I'm not sure if it did help, but it tasted fine.

2) After I put the fish on the BBQ, I used the Maple Syrup / Soy mix the fish had been dunked in, and boiled off some excess liquid.

When I flipped the fish over, I used some of this to glaze the sides, and when the fish was cooked, I used the remaining (fairly thick) mix to glaze the meal on plates. This made it taste like candy, maybe next time I'll cut back on the maple syrup if I intend to do the glaze again.

At 7:36 PM, Anonymous said...

GREAT RECIPE. I used a lite soy sauce instead. I also marinated the fish for 5 days in an air tight seal-a-meal tpye bag. Grilled for a few minutes on both sides, till heated through. The heat caramelized the maple syrup. Fish had a baked ham taste. What a way to eat salmon.

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe tonight and it was great. Thanks for the clear directions.

At 5:35 PM, Ernest T. Bass said...

Grilled Salmon Fillet?

Want to know how this Oregonian does it?

Take a skin-on salmon fillet (I get about 1.3 lbs for my 4-person family). Use tweezers or needle nose pliars to pull out the pin bones.

Place on a piece of foil slightly larger than the piece of salmon. Crimp the edges of the foil up slightly to retain some of the salmon fat as it cooks (makes the edge of the salmon taste wonderful).

Using a sharp flat edge (not serrated) knife, eyeball the serving pieces you want to end up with after cooking and slice the raw salmon into serving size pieces. Slice down to (or almost down to) the skin. Not all the way through. I do this at an angle for better presentation - also, if you slice after the fish is cooked it makes the slices look torn.

Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper and brush liberally with marinade. (recipe follows)

Place the foil and salmon foil side down directly over hot coals on an outdoor grill. Brush with marinade again, and cover with vents open.

Check the salmon every couple of minutes, brushing liberally with marinade until done. Depending on the size of the fish, it's thickness, and the heat of your grill, total cooking time on the grill will range from 10 to 20 minutes.

I take a metal fork that I use to pierce the thickest part of the salmon and then touch it immediately to my lower lip. If the tine of the fork is warm (meaning the center of the salmon is warm) take it off the grill (I use a wooden pizza peel to take it off). The salmon will continue to cook slightly under residual heat until it's served.

I place the salmon and its foil on a cutting board (or a stack of old newspapers) use a spatula to lift the salmon off the foil/skin, and place it on the plates. It comes off easily after it's cooked.

This is a terrific recipe that yield delicious salmon attractive enough to serve the most discriminating diner. It's easy, and because there is no turning, you have almost zero chance of disaster.

Marinade recipe:

Take 1/3 cup butter, melted

Whisk in:

1/3 cup dry white wine
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 to 3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press

This is best with wild salmon, because the natural fat content yields a truly delectable piece of grilled fish.


Post a Comment

<< Home