Grilled Salmon with Herb, Mustard Sauce

Salmon topped with mustard, herb sauce, 4HB beans and sauteed asparagus makes a nice Sunday night dinner.

Grilled Salmon is a staple around my house.  I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking it over the years and it turns out with just the right combination of crunchy exterior and silky texture.  I got a new cookbook from our friends, Al and Debbie Frank, The Summertime Anytime Cookbook, based on the menus at  Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, California and authored by their executive chef, Dana Slatkin and I wanted to try out some of the recipes.  This is the first one.  Pretty good.

I’m not afraid of using cookbooks.  In fact, I use them all the time.  You’ll notice the page is dog-eared.  There are many pages in this cookbook that I’ve marked for recipes I want to try.  When I get a new cookbook I sit with it and a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning and go through it and mark everything that looks good.  Then I leave it out for a couple of days to remind me that there are dishes to try and when the time is right, yippee, I get to try something new. (I don’t ordinarily say yippee…)

Grilling Salmon is pretty straight forward, though I do use one big trick.  The first step is to dust the fish liberally with seasoning.  I use a mix from Penzey’s called Trinidad.  It is a lemon and garlic mix that has great flavor for seafood.  Since this is going to go on the grill, the Salmon needs to be coated pretty heavily with the seasoning, otherwise it will all burn off.  This recipe called for a sauce made with whole grain mustard, a dry white wine, a shallot, dill and thyme. I didn’t have a Shallot.  I used about 1/4 onion and 1 teaspoon garlic as a substitute since shallots basically taste like garlicky onions.  For this one, since the recipe is in a newly on the market cookbook I’m going to say, if it sounds good, buy the cookbook.  You should.  There are a number of recipes in this cookbook that look really good to me so it’d be worth it.

Now down to grilling the Salmon. Like I said, there is one big trick that I use when I’m cooking Salmon.  Ok.  Well, two or three actually.  The first is pretty simple…  Heat the grill to really hot. You’ll note that my grill temp is over 600 degrees!  I know, I know… That’s gonna burn the fish like crazy.  Only, it’s not.  You’ll see.

The next step is going to sound crazy.  I don’t know when I first tried it.  It would have sounded crazy to me too.  Spray the top of the fish liberally with PAM cooking spray. I know what you’re thinking.  Jim’s gone off the deep end. PAM?  Yes. Here’s why.  It has very little flavor and it is actually formulated to be slippery.  When you put the fish down on the grill, skin side up, you’re going to be glad you did this because you’re not going to want that fish to stick.

Lay the fish flesh side down on the grill for two to three minutes.  Using a large, sharp spatula lift and turn over the fish.  It will be nicely caramelized on the top.  Then close the grill and let the fish cook for four to five more minutes for medium rare.  (6 or 7 if it is thicker). Then, using the sharp end of your spatula, cut the fish off of the skin, leaving the skin on the grill.  (with as much oil as is in Salmon it will quickly catch fire and pretty much burn up (making disposal easier).  Serve on a warm plate with the sauce on the side.

For a much simpler sauce, melt four tablespoons of butter and combine with the juice of one lemon and 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil.  (this can be done in the microwave).  Pour over fish and serve…

You'll want to serve the fish right off the grill. So getting all of your sauce ingredients ready ahead of time will speed the finishing process.

Starting the salmon skin side up will make great grill marks on the top...

Use a sharp spatula to shave the fish from the skin, leaving the skin to burn up on the grill.

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