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Fish for Friday: How to Cook Salmon on the Grill

Fish for Friday: How To Cook Salmon on the Grill

Looking for a delightfully different way to enjoy salmon? Here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you yield delicious results. You won’t want to wait until your next fasting day to take advantage of this technique.

1. Select your salmon.

If you can find it, try to purchase wild-caught fish whenever possible. In addition to providing the best flavor, it helps to promote the health and healing of the planet.

Wild-caught salmon flesh will have a deep, reddish-orange hue, while the farmed variety tends to be a lighter pink color. In addition, farmed salmon will typically have fatty white lines running through it. That’s because the fish don’t have to fight the upstream currents the way wild ones do.

Even if you can’t find wild-caught salmon, choose skin-on fillets rather than skinned ones. The skin is tougher and more robust than the flesh, meaning it will be less likely to stick to the grilling grates. The skin also helps the fillet to keep its shape during cooking. Don’t worry—when the fish is cooked correctly, the flesh will flake off easily.

2. Check for pin bones.

Because pin bones aren’t attached to the main skeleton, they might still be concealed in the flesh after the fish is filleted. To locate them, run your fingers down the length of the salmon fillet. The bones will be quite thin—about the width of a horsehair—with sharp tips. If you find one, lift the fillet with one hand so that the tip protrudes from the flesh. Carefully remove the bone with tweezers. Repeat with any remaining bones.

3. Season the fillet.

Once all the bones have been removed, pat the fish dry with paper towels. A sprinkling of kosher salt does more than boost flavor—it also helps prevent sticking. You can also add a grind or two of black pepper, if desired.

4. Prepare the grill.

When it comes to grilling fish, you want the cooking grates to be preheated and well-oiled. Heat the grill to medium-high if using a gas grill, or prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill. When you can hold your hand about five inches from the coals for 4-5 seconds without moving it, your coals are ready. If you’re preparing the fish on a pellet grill, set the temperature to 400.

Lightly oil the cooking grates and place them in position. Give them at least five minutes to heat up before adding the fillets.

5. Grill the salmon.

If you’re planning to eat the skin and you prefer it crisp, place the fillets skin-side down on the grill. Otherwise, you should begin with the skin-side up. Make sure the fillets are evenly spaced—if they’re too crowded, they won’t cook properly.

It’s important not to touch the fish at all during the first stage. When it’s ready to be turned over, the flesh will release itself from the grill. This happens two-thirds of the way through the cooking process—about 3-6 minutes, depending on how you’d like to serve it (see below).

Carefully flip the salmon with a flat spatula. If you want the fish to be slightly translucent in the middle, it should be cooked for about 6 minutes total. If it’s left on the grill for a total of 10 minutes, it should be firm and opaque all the way through. Note that if you see white beads beginning to appear on the top and sides of the fillet, it’s in danger of becoming overcooked and should be removed immediately.

6. Let it rest.

All proteins should be allowed to rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute. Note that the interior temperature raises slightly during this time, so it’s better to remove the fish from the grill sooner rather than later.

7. Serve the salmon.

Salmon pairs well with a variety of flavors, but in order to fully appreciate the magic of the grill, it’s best to keep things simple. Serve the fillets with wedges of fresh lemon. Classic side dishes include steamed basmati rice and asparagus with hollandaise sauce.


Bon appetite!


Written by Darren Wayland from

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