Saturday, November 29, 2008

Grilled Salmon

About a year ago I started grilling fish for lunch, now and then. Today I was talking with a friend on the phone and said I would post my current recipe. Here it goes...

First, the fish. Although there is a high quality and affordable fish market in Eugene it is difficult for me to visit it these days. So I have been using frozen wild-caught Alaskan salmon from Trader Joe's.

This fish is sold in two-piece packages. By making sure the two pieces are not touching I ensure it will be quick and easy to put the one I do not use in a plastic bag and return it to the freezer. This helps when holding a baby.

(As a side note, shame on Trade Joe's for not doing a better job stocking fish approved by seafood watch. In most regards that store does a commendable job stocking slightly better than average quality items for average prices. Fish seems to be one of the few areas in which they skimp.)

Second, the toppings. I get out our spray bottle of canola oil from the pantry, our bottles of crushed garlic and lime juice from the refridgerator, some oregano from our potted plant, and three spice jars. The first spice jar is plain dried rosemary. The other two were presents from my aunt and uncle last Chanukah: two spice mixes from Penzeys Spices named Northwood Fire and Bankok Blend.

(As a side note, Penzeys Spices are completely gluten free. Many spices are not.)

Third, the grill. I have a small one, so it heats up quickly. I use low heat to cook fish; not the very lowest setting but near that.

Fourth, the weather. My wife does not like the smell of fish so I need to eat it outside. If the weather is too cold for me to put Smiley in his exersaucer on the deck then I have to eat the fish during one of his naps. In that case I would start the grill warming after I mix his bottle but before I head to the nursery.

That is all the preparation.

Once the grill has heated and Smiley is either napping or ready to be outside I can start cooking.

I cut apart the package of fish and return the second piece to the freezer.

I spray both sides of the piece of fish with canola oil then set it on the grill, skin side down. Then I spread crushed garlic on with a spoon, and drip lime juice over it. I add the spices and spice mixes. (This can all be done right away, while the piece of fish is still frozen.)

Fish grills best with the lid closed. Do not turn the piece of fish over. Just let it sit in the grill peacefully. If you like very moist fish then cook it wrapped it in aluminum foil, but for my tastes that is not worth the hassle.

Salmon, unlike whiter fish, is not completely cooked when it becomes flaky. Wait until the fat rises to the top as yellow-white beads.

If I want an easy side dish then as the fish cooks I put some frozen vegetables from the freezer in aluminum foil and put them on the grill when the fish is done. By the time I have eaten half of the fish the vegetables are ready.

As with any grilling, when you are all done turn the grill to high with the lid closed, for a few minutes, to burn off any remnants and make brushing the grill clean very easy.

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