Once in your life you need to try making a grilled whole salmon. Far beyond the reason that it tastes so darn good, is the untouchable street cred you get by roasting a meal that still has a face. It just looks impressive. I’m a firm believer that if you are willing to consume meat, you need to be willing to admit, acknowledge, and respect the fact that your meal was once a living animal. If you can’t do that….. maybe you should be eating less meat.
Harsh truths for a lighthearted blog post, but it is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately and honestly trying to implement. The more I am learning to respect ingredients, the better my cooking skills and meals have become. By using fresh, quality components, you need to do less to them to make them amazing.
So it goes with this awesome salmon. Simply stuffed with shallots, fresh lemons, and dill then drizzled with a little butter, salt and pepper before being grilled to perfection. A grilled whole salmon makes an absolutely beautiful presentation for a crowd. Seriously, people will go nuts. Beyond that, it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and then it’s hands off until dinner time. I think it could be the perfect dinner party food! This is the ultimate in delicate salmon flavor, with just a hint of savory herbaciousness (it’s a word because I said so) and that mild smoky flavor from the grill. No one flavor note hits you over the head, they just all work together and melt in your mouth. Serve with a side of bacon wrapped asparagus and you’ve got an outstanding spring meal!
I grilled this beauty over indirect heat on my pellet grill (you can read more about what I cook on HERE) but the recipe is adaptable to whatever grill you are using! If you’re cooking over charcoal, simply arrange the hot coals on one side of your grill and cook the fish on the other. If you are using gas, I recommend cooking the salmon on a large baking sheet and rotating the salmon often to prevent the bottom from burning.
Grilled Whole Salmon with Lemon and Shallots
- 1 6-7 lb whole salmon (cleaned and scales removed)
- 2 shallots (sliced into rings)
- 3 lemons (divided use)
- 10-12 fresh dill fronds
- 2 Tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- Begin by preparing your grill. Set the temperature to about 400-425 degrees over indirect heat and allow your grill to preheat while you prepare the salmon.
- Wipe the entire exterior and interior cavity of your salmon with paper towels. Season the interior with half of the salt and pepper. Layer in the sliced shallots, 2 of the sliced lemons, and dill fronds.
- Using a sharp knife, cut 3-4 diagonal slices into the top of the salmon. Drizzle the top of the fish with the melted butter and season with the rest of the salt and pepper.
- Transfer your fish directly to the grill grates, close the lid and roast for 30 minutes. Cut the last lemon in half and squeeze half of it over the top of the salmon. The time can vary 15 minutes or so in either direction depending on how thick your fish is.
- Close the lid and roast for another 15 minutes then squeeze the other half of the lemon over the top. At this point, use an internal thermometer to check the temperature of your salmon. The time to finish the salmon can vary 15 minutes or so in either direction depending on how thick your fish is. From this point on, keep a close eye on the temperature. Salmon is cooked through at 140 degrees F.
- When your salmon has hit the proper internal temperature, carefully transfer the fish to your serving platter or cutting board and serve with extra lemon wedges. Simply peel back the skin along the diagonal slits and allow your guests to serve themselves.