The beautiful fall day I’ve been waiting for is here. Clear, blue sky; a carpet of colorful leaves on the lawn; a hint of winter in the air – just cold enough to need a jacket. It’s time for fall grilling. After writing this, of course, it goes live on the first day of a mid-November Polar Vortex. Snow in the forecast. Sigh. I’m crossing my fingers for Thanksgiving…
Salmon with barbecue sauce is a trick I learned from Michael Symon. It doesn’t seem like it should work; barbecue sauce goes with pork, not salmon, right? Turns out, it’s a fantastic pairing; the sweet, vinegar flavor of the sauce balances fatty salmon, just like it does pork shoulder.
I prefer South Carolina style mustard barbecue sauce with salmon. The the extra layer of mustard flavor is perfect with fish.
I know, I know, this sounds really strange. Mustard barbecue sauce? With fish? Trust me, it works.
Don’t want to trust me? Trust chef Symon. He’s a professional. Do try this at home.
Recipe: Grilled Salmon with Mustard Barbecue Sauce
Inspired by: Michael Symon’s Coffee Barbecue Salmon, Lolita’s restaurant
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Grill (I use my trusty Weber kettle )
- 4 salmon fillets, each 2 inches wide (About 2 pounds of salmon)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Mustard BBQ Sauce
- 1/2 cup yellow mustard
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
1. Prepare the grill for two zone medium-high heat
Prepare your grill for cooking with one side on medium-high heat, and the other with no heat, then clean the grate thoroughly with a grill brush and a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter* 3/4 full of charcoal and wait for it to be covered with ash. I pour the coals in a thick, even layer over half of the charcoal grate. This gives me half the grill on direct heat, and half off the heat. Then I brush the grate clean with my grill brush, and wipe it with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. (Held with tongs, of course – please don’t bare-hand a paper towel soaked with oil over flaming coals.)
*I highly recommend the Weber Chimney Starter, because it is larger than most chimney starters. It holds 5 quarts of charcoal, which is exactly the right size for cooking this recipe.
2. Make the mustard BBQ sauce and season the salmon
While the grill is preheating: whisk the mustard BBQ sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Next, sprinkle the flesh side of the salmon evenly with the salt and pepper.
3. Cook the salmon
Put the salmon on the grill, flesh side down, over the direct heat (that is, over the coals). Cook uncovered for 4 to 6 minutes, until the salmon is well browned. Gently flip the salmon, skin side down, to the indirect heat side of the grill. Brush the salmon with a layer of barbecue sauce, cover the grill, and cook, covered, until the salmon reaches 140°F in its thickest part – it will still have a hint of pink in the middle when you peek with a paring knife, about 10 minutes. Brush the salmon with another layer of barbecue sauce, then transfer to a serving platter. Let the salmon rest for five minutes, then serve.
- While I prefer the flavor of mustard barbecue sauce on salmon, any barbecue sauce will work. In particular, my Espresso Chipotle Barbecue Sauce is a good match – the coffee, heat, and sweet flavor goes well with salmon.
- Depending on the end of the salmon you buy, you can get ultra-thick or ultra-thin slices. I prefer center cut fillets – about 2 inches thick at their thickest part.
- That really thick piece of salmon in the middle, with a spice rub on it? Someone wanted a piece with Coriander Fennel Rub instead of barbecue sauce, and I couldn’t say no; it’s a great rub.
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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