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Fish fillets have a bad reputation on the grill. Why? Because it’s likely that they’ll stick to the grill grate, and when they do, you can forget about removing them in whole pieces. The delicate texture of cooked fish makes it virtually impossible to remove fillets neatly, so what you end up bringing to the table are inelegant shards of what you hoped would be an elegant piece of fish. Enter our recipe for perfectly grilled, easy-release fillets. You may find it surprising that the key to success revolves around how you treat the grill before you even begin to cook.
Here’s the secret: After heating the grill grate and scrubbing it clean, wipe the grate well with a wad of paper towels dipped in vegetable oil. Greasing the grate is not the objective here - rather, coating it with oil seasons the grate, much like you’d season a cast-iron skillet. Due to the high heat of the grate, the oil polymerizes, creating a layer that helps prevent proteins in the fish from sticking to the metal. When cooking delicate seafood, we recommend wiping the grate multiple times so that it builds up a coating, guaranteeing that your fish won’t stick.
This recipe works best with salmon fillets but can also be used with any thick, firm-fleshed white fish, like red snapper, grouper, halibut or sea bass. Cook white fish to 140 degrees, up to two minutes longer per side.
For the olive vinaigrette:
For the salmon:
*Green olives tend to be quite mild and mellow in flavor; large, plump green Cerignola olives from Italy are one of the most commonly available types of green olives. Black Kalamata olives have a sharper, brinier flavor than green olives. Use whichever type you prefer to make the vinaigrette.
**These days, many supermarkets offer both wild and farmed salmon varieties. We prefer wild salmon because we find its texture to be firmer and its flavor more buttery and fresh than farmed salmon. It is, however, more pricey. If all you can find are skinless salmon fillets, they’ll work too; treat the skinned side as if it were the skin side.
Prepare charcoal grill:
Prepare gas grill:
Grill salmon and serve: