Grilled food and summertime feasts go hand in hand. From juicy red meat to healthy seafood and veggie bites, you never go short of food options when it’s about grilling. If we particularly talk about seafood grilling, then salmon is probably the most agreed upon fish to grill. Besides its unfailing taste and easy cooking, it is one of the healthiest seafood options.
While fulfilling your daily dietary protein requirements, salmon also offers a great value of omega 3 fatty acids to make sure your grilling consumptions remain free of cholesterol overdoses. Cooking experts agree that grilling salmon is more about the method than recipes. In other words, it’s the selection of salmon cut, grilling details and post-grilled seasoning that matter more.
In this piece, we are going to discuss how to grill salmon charcoal grill and all the details that are associated with it.
The Selection of Salmon for Grilling
No matter how good you are with your charcoal grill, you can’t get the desired results if you are not picking the right salmon. Keep these factors in mind when you go for salmon shopping for your next grilling evening.
Fillets or Steaks: The Best Salmon Cuts for Grilling
Fillets and steaks are the best salmon cuts when you are planning on to grill them. Their thickness and volume are ideal for the charcoal grates. Moreover, the pieces maintain their shape even when the grilling is done. In between these two, we would recommend salmon steaks. Not only are they easy to grill, but a grilled salmon steak also demonstrates food aesthetics. With right dressing and sides, a grilled salmon steak palette looks like a piece of art.
Wild-Caught Over Farm-Raised
You may have to pay a couple of bucks more for wild-caught salmon. But believe us that spending some extra money here is worth it. A wild-caught salmon is richer in taste as compared to regular farm-raised variants. If the guests you are inviting over are real fish buffs, then they would love wild-caught grilled salmon. A wild-caught salmon tastes better because it contains a slightly higher fat content than canned variants.
Don’t worry about that fat for its health implications because it’s considered ‘good fats’ that our body needs to carry out vital functions.
Always Go for Skin-on
Even if you buy farm-raised salmon, always pick with the skin-on pieces. Skin gives the grilled fish meat a texture that feels great in the mouth. Moreover, it helps with the grilling too. Consider skin as protective pads that keep the pieces intact and protect them from burns.
Grilling With a Charcoal Grill
After buying the right salmon for grilling, it’s time to prepare your charcoal grill for the task. Although gas grills have become more common in the last couple of years for their ease of use, you can’t get the authentic smoky grilling flavor from it. Only a charcoal grill can give you the desired results to get distinctive smoke characteristic in the grilled food.
If you are looking to buy a quality charcoal grill, then you can certainly get confused in the market brimming with options. We have reviewed some of the best budget charcoal grills in this section to ease out this buying process.
Marination: The Simple the Better
If you want to enjoy salmon for what it is, then keep the recipe simple. The marinade of oil, salt, and pepper is enough to keep your grilled salmon all mouthwateringly delicious. Heavy recipes only overkill the original taste. On the other hand, the simple combo of salt and pepper enhance the real deliciousness of salmon.
Also, use the oil with a higher smoke point for better grilling. Any good quality grapeseed or olive oil can be used for the marinade.
How to Grill Salmon on a Charcoal Grill
With right salmon and charcoal grill, you are all set to begin the actual grilling. Here too, take care of certain factors to keep the ‘method’ of grilling on point.
Briquettes, Hardwood or Lump Charcoal
The fuel for your grill can go a long way in shaping the up taste of grilled salmon. If you are a purist, then go with lump charcoal since it gives that quintessential smoke taste that you are looking for. On the other hand, briquettes are both a standard charcoal fuel and the option for those who don’t shy away from a little bit of experimentation.
For instance, you can now get briquettes in different hardwood flavors. From oak to hickory and cherry, you can get distinctive smoke flavor by using different briquettes. Hardwood is another option here that you can pick if you don’t have any particular smoke flavor preference. Also, it’s the cheapest charcoal fuel if you are not picky.
Avoid Charcoal Lighter Fluid
Firing up briquettes is not easy especially if you haven’t any idea of how to start a charcoal grill. The charcoal lighter fluid makes it easy to flare up coals, but this convenience comes at one cost. You will have to bear with a slightly chemical aftertaste in the prepared food. With the proper method and one particular tool, you can fire up your briquettes or lumps naturally without needing any chemicals.
Get a Chimney Starter
A chimney starter will make your life easy in starting a charcoal grill. You can buy some of the quality options on Amazon as well. Check out this highly-rated stainless chimney starter .
Get some rolled up old newspapers and stuff them in the chimney’s bottom. Then, top them off with briquettes/lumps. Light this stash from the bottom and wait for the entire heap to catch the fire. In 20-30 minutes, the briquettes will turn red hot. Use barbeque mitt or a pair of tong to transfer those fired up briquettes from chimney to the grill pit. Spread them evenly, put the grates again, and close the lid. Let the grates heat for good 10-12 minutes to get an ideal pre-cooking heating environment.
If your grill is fitted with temperature gauge, then it’s pretty easy to decide when the grill is ready for the salmon fillets. As per experts, any temperature in between 400 and 500 Fahrenheit is ideal for salmon grilling. When grates have that temperature, you just need to grill the fillet for not more than 8-10 minutes.
Put the Lid for Consistent Grilling
Put the lid on when salmon is on grates. It ensures the temperature consistency resulting in a perfectly grilled fillet.
This is very much the process of salmon grilling on charcoal. However, one should be aware of some details to prepare the best grilled salmon treat. We are covering these points in the headings of the following questions.
How Much Flipping Is Needed?
Only once. Yes, flip the fillets once throughout the grilling for best cooking results. Put the salmon pieces on the grill with the skin side down. The major part of cooking and baking is done from that side. After 6-8 minutes, flip the filet and grill the flesh side for only 1-2 minutes just to give it a crisp and consistency.
How Many Briquettes Are Needed?
It depends on what grill size you are using and how much salmon fillets you are preparing. Generally, 100 briquettes are enough for an hour of grilling on any standard-size grill. If you are preparing the food for more than five people, then it would be better to have the chimney start on all that time. It will continue to provide the hot briquettes as you are preparing salmon fillet batches one after the other.
Should I Be Oiling the Fish or the Grates?
While grilling red meat in different forms (sausage, patties, steaks, etc), it is often advised to spray some oil on the grates. You can certainly do it here too, but it’s deemed redundant. When you are already marinating salmon with oil, then there is no need to oil the grills. This oil along with the fish’s fat content will be enough to ensure nonstick grilling and juicy texture.
How to Know When It’s Done
Apart from time, there are several easy ways to determine if the salmon is ready to be taken off the grill.
- Peel the grilled fish with a fork. If the skin is being removed effortlessly, you are ready with your salmon.
- A meat temperature is a more precise way to tell if grilled salmon is ready to treat your taste buds. Put the thermometer needle in any filet after 8-9 minutes of grilling. If the temperature reading is somewhere between 125 130 Fahrenheit, take the filets off. Let them rest for carryover cooking where the internal temperature goes to 140 Fahrenheit after you take the filets off the grill.
It is always better to take the salmon off early to prevent overcooking. With all this information in your hand, you are set to grill salmon fillets to perfection for their heavenly taste.