What's The Best Way To Barbeque Salmon?
Asking what's the best way to barbeque salmon won't get you much more than an argument, especially if you happen to ask a group of people, some of whom love to barbeque. Since tastes vary, there probably is no best way, but there are certainly a number of good ways.
If you want to barbeque salmon, or any fish for that matter, it's basically a rather simple task, although it can become a bit more complicated when a full blown salmon barbeque is in progress with 30 or 40 pounds of Chinook salmon on the grill. Although the basics are about the same, barbecuing a whole fish, cleaned of course, is different from barbecuing a couple of filets.
Fresher Is Better - The first thing you'll want to do is get the very freshest salmon you can. Unless you live on Puget Sound or in southeastern Alaska it can be difficult to get a salmon that was caught the same day. Obviously, if you catch the fish yourself it's going to taste better to you, even if it's been in the freezer for a month after you caught it. It's a little like eating corn on the cob that's just been picked in the garden as opposed to an ear of corn that was picked two or three days back. The older corn will still be delicious, and if you've never eaten freshly picked corn you wouldn't know the difference anyway, but fresher is definitely better.
Do Salmon Really Fly? - If you want to add a little novelty to your barbeque preparations, you can purchase a (reasonably) freshly caught whole salmon at Seattle's Pike Place Market. The fishmongers there excel at tossing and catching fish, so your salmon may sail through the air for 20 or 30 feet a couple of times before its carefully wrapped and given to you. Whether flight makes fish taste better is anyone's guess.
To barbeque salmon you first get the grill good and hot. The fish is then placed on a sheet of aluminum foil. A double sheet is better and you may want to go three sheets if it’s a large fish. You don't want the foil start to separate when you start serving the fish, though it probably won't. If you're barbecuing filets, simply lay them on the foil, if you're barbecuing a whole fish, lay it skin side down. It would cook fine skin side up but basting it would present a problem, as would serving it. When a salmon is well cooked individual servings are easily taken up with a small spatula.
Some like to salt the flesh slightly and let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before starting the barbeque. Salt will seal the flesh so it will better retain moisture when heated. If you do this, give the fish a brief rinse with cold water before placing it on the grill.
Start Simple, the Improvise - For a very basic dish all you need to do is put a few pats of butter on the salmon and add a little salt and pepper. A large fish can mean using lots of butter, which is all right, but olive oil usually serves just as well.
The basic dish will taste good but there is much else that can be done. Instead of using salt and pepper, use garlic salt and pepper, or better yet, small pieces of freshly cut garlic. Garlic and salmon go particularly well together. You can also places slices of lemon or orange on top of the meat. There can be long and heated arguments as to which is better, orange or lemon. It's really a matter of taste, but the majority seem to prefer orange slices to barbecue salmon with.
From here on it's a matter of finding herbs and spices that add to the taste. Jalapeno pepper slices or flakes are very good if you want your salmon a bit on the hot side. Just be careful not to add things that will take away from the taste of the fish, although that's not all that easy to do. Once you have the right combination to barbecue salmon, you can do what men do best, stand by the grill and watch.