Grilled Salmon with Tomato Butter
Grilled Salmon

Almost everybody enjoys grilling fish, especially during the summer grilling season.

A beautifully browned surface and a hint of smoky flavor work wonders for seafood. So, too, does the intense heat of a grill, which can cook fish fillets through quickly, leaving their surfaces with a touch of crispness while their interiors stay perfectly moist.

To achieve such results, though, you have to be careful to do things right when grilling fish.

The first step is to choose the right kind of fish, one with firm flesh and thick fillets that won't fall apart during the fairly rustic cooking process. Good choices include sea bass, tuna, mahi mahi, and swordfish. But one of my favorite choices for grilling is salmon, because it has a fairly high fat content that keeps it extra moist and flavorful.

The next secret of success when grilling fish is to make sure it's fresh. Buy your seafood from a store that has a reputation for quality and a frequent turnover of its product. Avoid any fillets that lack bright, moist color, that don't look firm, or that have any kind of "off" smell.

Good fish doesn't need much in the way of seasoning, though you can, of course, feel free to flavor it as you like.

In the grilled salmon with tomato butter recipe I share here, I simply sprinkle the salmon with some salt and pepper, and serve it with an intense-tasting warm tomato butter sauce.

For the best grilling results, a simple, hands-off approach is best for fish. Pat the salmon fillets dry, as moisture could lead to them sticking to the grilling. For an added precaution, lightly coat salmon fillets with nonstick cooking spray, and then season lightly. Most importantly, don't fuss with the salmon fillets once they're on the grill; the more you turn them or move them around, the more likely they are to fall apart. Just turn them once, halfway through the cooking time.

Take care, too, not to overcook the fish. To test for doneness, insert the tip of a sharp knife into the center of a salmon fillet: It should still look very slightly undercooked inside, the equivalent of medium for a piece of meat. Bear in mind that by the time you get it to the table the residual heat in the fillet will complete the cooking, yielding moist, perfectly done results.

Happy grilling!

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Grilled Salmon Recipe with Tomato Butter

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook time: 48 minutes

    Yield: Serves 4

Grilled Salmon with Tomato Butter Ingredients

    For the tomato butter:

      2 large, ripe tomatoes, quartered

      1 garlic clove

      1 sprig fresh basil

      4 sprigs fresh parsley

      2 shallots, thinly sliced

      1/2 small organic carrot, thinly sliced

      1 cup dry white wine

      2 to 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

      1 teaspoon tomato paste (optional)

      6 ounces unsalted butter, softened slightly

    For the grilled salmon:

      4 fillets salmon, each about 6 ounces

      Nonstick cooking spray, plain or olive oil-flavored

      Freshly ground white pepper

      4 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Grilled Salmon with Tomato Butter Recipe Instructions

    First, make the tomato butter.

    Put the tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley, 1 shallot, and carrot in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.

    Process until pureed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

    Chop the remaining shallot and put it in a large saucepan with the wine and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar.

    Bring to a boil and then simmer over medium heat until the liquid has reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 20 minutes.

    Stir in the reserved puree and cook until thick and intensely flavored, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

    Taste and, if the flavor needs more intensity, stir in the tomato paste.

    Reduce the heat to low and, a little at a time, whisk in the butter.

    Then, hold a fine-meshed strainer over a clean saucepan and pour the sauce through the strainer, using a rubber spatula to press it through.

    Season to taste with salt, pepper, and, if necessary, a little more vinegar. Cover and keep warm.

    While the sauce is cooking, preheat an outdoor grill.

    When the grill is hot, lightly spray the salmon fillets on both sides with some nonstick spray and season both sides with salt and white pepper. Carefully place the fillets on the cooking grid and grill just until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

    Spoon the tomato butter onto each of 4 serving plates.

    Place a grilled salmon fillet on top and garnish each fillet with a basil leaf.

    Serve immediately.

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