Healthy Grilling Recipes for Salmon

Updated: Mar 30



As the warmer weather approaches, our desire to start cooking on the barbecue is renewed. Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston walks us through her salmon recipes that provide healthy and delicious ways to enjoy fish on the grill.



THE SALMON SERIES - SEARED SESAME SALMON


Before you know it, it’ll be grilling season again! I wanted to put out some easy recipes to help you get out there and grill. I decided to do a series of 3 recipes for cooking North America’s favorite fish – Salmon! Not only are the recipes different, but they’re all cooked on a different grill as well to help you get ideas for your next cookout. This first recipe in the Salmon Series is Sesame Seared Salmon. I serve a variation on this recipe at one of my restaurants. Serve it with my easy sesame aioli along with rice and grilled veggies, and you’ll have a delicious spring and summertime meal!


SESAME OIL IS MY FAVE

I absolutely love toasted sesame oil. It is the best smelling oil out there in my opinion, and I love to cook with it. For this recipe, I’m going to lightly bread the salmon with a seasoned flour mixture, then cook it on a cast iron griddle with sesame oil.


HOW DO I GET MY FISH COOKED PROPERLY ON A GRIDDLE?

The only real complication from a grill with this will be the temperature. You really need a 2-zone fire with a griddle that will cover both parts (at least enough of it so you can have a hot griddle and a medium side). If that’s not available, you can sear the salmon on the hot griddle, place in an aluminum pan, and put on a cooler spot on the grill and allow to cook until you’ve reached 145 degrees internal temperature.


THE SALMON SERIES- SEARED SESAME SALMON

Prep Time:

10 minutes

Cook Time:

15 minutes

Total Time:

25 minutes

Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

4 filets salmon 6-8 oz pieces

1/2 cup a/p flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 TBS granulated garlic

1 TBS black sesame seeds

1 TBS kosher salt

1/2 TBS coarse ground black pepper


Instructions

In a small mixing bowl, add all breading ingredients and thoroughly mix. Remove salmon filets from packaging and lightly pat dry. Lightly sprinkle filets on all sides with breading and lightly pat to get it to adhere to filet. You want them breaded, but not a thick coating.

Heat griddle up on grill. Pour sesame oil on grill and spread with spatula. Lay each filet on griddle and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Gently turn filet over and allow to cook another 2 minutes or until breading is set. Hold filet up on each side so all sides can get cooked. Temp salmon- if it is not at 145 degrees yet move it to a cooler part of the griddle until it gets to that temperature.

Remove and serve with your favorite sauce and side items.





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THE SALMON SERIES - SMOKED SALMON



This recipe in my “Salmon Series” is definitely the easiest. Smoked Salmon is among my favorite things to cook for one big reason- it tastes great warm or cold! This smoked salmon recipe is super simple, and you’ll be hankerin’ to do it again soon!


LUCKY NUMBER 7 SEASONING

For this recipe I use a heavy coat of my Lucky Number 7 Seasoning, which is perfect for fish, seafood, poultry or veggies. I would recommend making a quick seasoning of the following:

1 TBS salt

1 TBS brown sugar

1 tsp dill

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp lemon pepper

1 tsp course ground black pepper

1 tsp ancho chili powder


HOW DO I SMOKE SALMON?

Smoking salmon uses one of two methods: cold smoking or hot smoking. Cold smoking basically involves “piping” in the smoke to a smoking chamber to reduce the heat. The salmon is basically smoke cured, much like a ham. This process takes a long time, and while it is a great means of preservation, ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m hot smoking salmon for dinner or for an appetizer!


ALRIGHT, WHAT DO I DO?

Super simple as I said. Set up a smoker and run to 275 degrees. For this recipe I used a drum smoker with a diffuser over the coals. Really doesn’t matter what type of smoker you’re using though. Pick your favorite smoking wood- for fish I love woods such as apple or maple. Alder wood is a traditional pick for salmon, but I’m not a traditional person and I don’t live near any alder wood. Load the smoker up with your favorite wood so you’re getting a heavy but clean smoke (exhaust should have white smoke, not dark or grey smoke.)


Salmon during the middle of the smoking process

When I smoke salmon, I like to use a four to five pound piece of salmon. A larger piece helps prevent the fish from drying out, and gives you plenty of leftovers for eating it cold. If you don’t want to cook a piece that big, no sweat, pick whatever size you want. The timing may change, but not the process. Season the salmon filet, and place on smoker. Using a meat thermometer, smoke for 45 minutes or until the internal temp on the thickest part reaches 145 degrees. Remove and serve. Delicious!


THE SALMON SERIES - ASIAN AND WHISKEY GRILLED SALMON



Ok folks, this is the last installment of my “salmon series.” This recipe for Asian and Whiskey Grilled Salmon is one of my all-time favorites! I even serve a version of this at my restaurants, Memphis Barbecue Company!


ASIAN AND WHISKEY GRILLED SALMON

4 6-8 oz salmon filets

1/2 cup peanut oil

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1" knob Fresh Ginger Root cut into thin strips

1/4 cup good whiskey

Mix all marinade ingredients together. Place salmon filets in a resealable bag and pour marinade over them. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal. Place in fridge and allow to marinate for 2 hours up to 12 hours.

Heat your grill up to medium-high and lightly oil grates. Grill salmon for two minutes and then give a quarter turn to develop diamond grill marks. Cook additional 2 minutes then turn filets over. Cook for approximately 3-4 more minutes, or until the desired internal temperature is reached.



Melissa Cookston, 7-time world barbecue champion owner of Memphis BBQ Company, a successful barbecue restaurant with locations in Horn Lake, Mississippi and Dunwoody, Georgia; an author of two cookbooks, “Smokin in the Boy’s Room” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South;” and a celebrated southern Delta chef who is sponsored by Prairie Fresh. These recipes and more can be found at: https://melissacookston.com/


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