Basic Pan-Grilled Salmon

Chinook Salmon

Chinook Salmon

By Cat, Sept 2015 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Fish & Seafood Menu; 2. Salmon (About)

I make this recipe frequently because it is quick and oh so easy. I only use wild-caught salmon, preferring the darker meat of chinook or sockeye salmon, but Alaskan king salmon is also quite good. Wild salmon is available only during the summer months, so late in the season I buy some frozen wild salmon (frozen on-board, right after being caught) that my local meat market cuts into individual servings for me. I store these in my freezer and eat it during the early winter months (it starts to get rancid in late winter/early spring, and isn’t as tasty).

Basic Grilled (or Pan-Grilled) Salmon

To flavor this fish, I just use salt and pepper, then accompany with a sauce. For the salt, I prefer unrefined sea salt because it provides all the trace minerals present in salt water, all of which our bodies need.

For the pepper, I use the mixed-color peppercorns, which has more flavor and color.  I also like a lot of pepper, enough to give the fish a grey cast.  Purchased ground pepper just doesn’t give it the same flavor. Another pepper option is to use a mix of ground red and black pepper, which provides just a touch of heat.

See below for suggested sauces to augment the flavor of the salmon.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • ½ – 1 pound salmon filet, with skin (for 2 – 4 each 4 –  6 oz servings)
  • unrefined sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, red/black pepper mix, or mixed color pepper
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • cast iron skillet or grill pan (with ridges)


  1. Rinse salmon in cold water; pat dry.
  2. Lay salmon on a plate, skin side down.  Sprinkle the unrefined sea salt over the salmon with your fingers, then rub it in slightly.  Using a grinder, grind the pepper (medium-coarse) over the fish, making sure you’ve covered it well, then pat into the flesh.
  3. Let sit for 30 minutes or so in your refrigerator.
  4. Just before you are ready to serve, heat pan over medium high heat, then add coconut oil and heat it to a shimmer.
  5. Place the fish in the pan, skin side down, and grill for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.  Using tongs and spatula, carefully turn the fish over and grill for another 3 minutes. If desired, you can remove the cooked skin by sliding a spatula between the flesh and skin.  If the fish is more than ¾ inch thick, put a lid over the pan to help the center of the flesh cook through.
  6. Turn the fish over again, so the skin side is down.  With a fork or knife, carefully inspect the center of the flesh.  It should still be slightly rare in the middle, as it will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat.  You do not want it to be overdone, or it will develop an off flavor (from oxidation of the delicate omega-3 fats).
  7. Remove fish to the plate and cut it into servings.
  8. Garnish with a desired sauce (see below), fresh lemon, or leave it bare.  It’s excellent either way!

Sauces to accompany salmon:

Salmon lends itself to accompaniment by many different sauces which you can easily make at home.  Here are some ideas:


About Cat

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