I’ve got a confession to make: I grew up in Alaska, but I never really liked seafood as a kid. (I didn’t love the texture! We all have foods that we don’t love like that…) My mom would make delicious salmon, halibut, and Alaskan King Crab for dinner… and I would turn my little kid nose up at it. Only as a late teenager did I begin to get over my aversion and could appreciate the flavor and textures of different types of seafood – including Alaskan salmon.
Now I’ve started sharing some of my favorite Alaskan recipes for those of us dreaming of a future Alaska trip – or remembering Alaskan adventures fondly. Today I’m sharing a cornerstone recipe that you can use to wow dinner guests and bring a taste of Alaska into your home: grilled Alaska salmon.
Even if you’ve never cooked salmon before and don’t know what to do with it, you’ll soon see: it’s super easy to make delicious grilled Alaska salmon without a ton of ingredients or complicated cooking methods. Read on for a recipe literally anyone can do – and pretty much everyone will love. (I can’t promise your kids will like it any more than I did, but hopefully they someday will!)
All About Alaskan Salmon
If you’re planning to cook Alaskan salmon, you probably need to know a little bit about Alaskan salmon. Some people may know about the different types and which one they want to cook with – but in case you know nothing, here are the basics of Alaskan salmon.
- There are five species of Alaska salmon: King Salmon (also called Chinook Salmon), Silver Salmon (also called Coho Salmon), Sockeye Salmon (also called Red Salmon), Pink Salmon (also called Humpback or Humpy Salmon), and Chum Salmon (also called Dog Salmon).
- Each species of salmon runs at a different type of the summer. Kings have two runs (from mid-May to late July), Silvers run from late July through October, Reds have two runs (from late May to early August), Pinks run from late July to late August (only in even years), and Chums have two runs (in late summer and mid-autumn).
- Each type of salmon has a different texture and flavor – and cooks differently. Most people enjoy Red, King, and even Silver salmon; Pink salmon is generally considered lower quality, and Chum (as the name suggests) is usually used to feed dogs.
Keeping that in mind, when you purchase Alaskan salmon, you should pay attention to which type you’re buying. It’s also important to remember when the runs happen compared to when you’re buying it – late summer and autumn are the best times to buy Alaskan salmon because it’s likely to be more fresh and prime.
Different Ways to Cook Alaska Salmon
In addition to the five types of Alaskan salmon (or maybe only four, throwing out Chum) that you might want to cook, there are also a number of ways to cook whatever salmon you choose.
- Baking – An easy way to cook salmon in the oven, but you risk either undercooking or drying out your salmon depending on the timing.
- Broiling – A good option if you prefer to keep your salmon less cooked-through, but again time-sensitive.
- Grilling – An easy, basically fool-proof option for cooking salmon completely, as long as you keep an eye on the time.
- Pan-Frying – Another simple and common way to cook salmon, which gives you control from searing to cooking it through.
- Poaching – A less common method, but easy, less time-sensitive, and good for keeping your salmon moist and tender.
In this recipe, I’ve decided to focus on how to grill Alaskan salmon. Most people have access to a grill, it’s easy enough even if you don’t cook fish often, and it makes for a perfect late summer or autumn dinner.
How to Make Alaskan Grilled Salmon
In addition to using a simple method for cooking your Alaskan salmon (grilling), I also wanted to share a super-simple recipe for seasoning.
First, you’ll need to either buy Alaskan salmon fillets or fillet the salmon yourself. If you’re self-filleting, take your salmon side and lay it skin down on a cutting board. This image shows the different cuts of a salmon side; if you have a full salmon and can take two top loin cuts, that’s ideal. Otherwise, use your top loin and loin from a single side. Be sure to make your cuts lengthwise along the spine; when you cut across, angle your knife in line with the flesh.
I recommend leaving the skin on for grilling; it’ll add extra flavor and texture if you choose to eat it.
Once you’ve got your cuts ready, it’s time to start supplementing the natural flavor of the salmon you’ve chosen. Start by rubbing the fillets with honey and lemon juice. Next season with salt and pepper.
Brush your grill grates or grill pan with olive oil. Once hot, transfer the fillets skin-up to the grill and cook for roughly three minutes a side. You’ll know when the first side is done when the fillet is golden brown on the non-skin side; cook the skin side for the same amount of time.
When it comes to sides, I like keeping things easy: asparagus is a fabulous choice that does well on the grill too. Brush the asparagus with olive oil, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 2-3 minutes on high heat.
Then it’s just time to plate your salmon and asparagus and serve it to your lucky dinner guests (or yourself!). Follow it up with my Alaskan strawberry-rhubarb crumble recipe for dessert… Enjoy!
Alaskan Grilled Salmon
- 4 Salmon fillets
- ¼ C Lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Rub the salmon with the honey, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
- Brush the grill grates or grill pan with olive oil.
- Once your grill is hot, transfer the salmon fillets to the grill and cook for 3 minutes per side or until golden brown on the outside.
Like I said: easy, peasy, delicious! This recipe for grilled Alaskan salmon will convince you that it’s worth the investment in fresh salmon, and that you can get creative with other seasoning and sides in the future.
Do you have other questions about making grilled Alaskan salmon? Let me know in the comments!