We don’t eat a lot of fish at our house for the most part. But it’s not because we don’t like fish – in fact, most of us love fish! However, I’ve never felt very confident in my ability to cook fish properly. The few times I’ve attempted it at home have either resulted in overcooked fish, undercooked fish, or a pile of flaky bits that used to be fish. It was all so discouraging that I eventually stopped trying.
But the situation changed, and I decided to give fish another shot. We decided to have salmon for our Easter dinner this year, and I successfully grilled 8 salmon filets to perfection (if I do say so myself). So what changed? What inspired me to put aside my fish failures and finally achieve what I had thought was impossible?
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The Secret To Perfect Grilled Salmon
The secret to my success is simple – grill mats! Ever since I learned about grill mats several months ago, I had been gaining confidence in my ability to cook pretty much anything on the grill. Even grilling fish didn’t sound so hard to do after a while! So when my kids suggested having salmon for Easter dinner, I put on my game face and grabbed my grill mat. The results were delicious, and my kids are now requesting the same salmon dish regularly (but we’ll get to that in a bit.)
Here are some basic pointers for grilling salmon on a grill mat, but trust me, it’s pretty hard to mess up. ;-)
Tips For Salmon Success
- Before grilling your salmon (or any fish), pat each filet dry with a paper towel. Add your desired seasonings, or a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- You can place filets with skin right onto your grill mat, skin-side down. If they your filets are skinless, prep your grill mat with a quick spritz of non-stick cooking spray for added insurance against sticking.
- If you’re using a charcoal grill, place your grill mat over a medium-sized pile of coals. Grill the fish for 4-6 minutes per 1/2″ of thickness, or until the fish begins to flake when poked with a fork. Turn the filets over once halfway through grilling.
- If you’re using a gas grill, let your grill warm up for a few minutes and then turn the temperature down to medium. Place your grill mat and filets on the grill, and cook until they reach your desired doneness, or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Perfectly cooked salmon will be opaque but still moist, and will pull apart easily.
And while the perfectly grilled salmon was the star of our Easter meal, the sauce I made to go with it deserves a shout-out as well. If you’re not familiar with buerre blanc, it’s a light and buttery sauce that pairs perfectly with salmon. This version also features a bright and tangy kick of lemon, because it’s me, and I can’t live without lemon in most situations. Give this sauce a try when you go out and grill your salmon. I think you’ll like it just as much as we did!
Lemon Beurre Blanc
1 small onion or 2 medium shallots, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 Tbsp cold butter
Combine the finely diced onion, lemon juice, and wine or broth in a small saucepan. Place on your stovetop and simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 7 or 8 minutes.
Whisk in the heavy cream. Once the mixture comes to a simmer again, reduce the heat to low.
Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly. When all the butter has been added, add salt to taste and remove from heat. Cover the sauce with a lid to keep warm until you’re ready to serve.