Whole farm-raised salmon is a little tricky to grill. The fish tend to be large and thick, making it difficult to cook them through before they dry out on the surface. Wild salmon are much leaner and cook through more quickly. This one is slashed and embedded with grilled leeks and herbs, and then served with a sophisticated salsa made from salmon roe (salmon caviar) and freshly grated horseradish root.
Grill: 20 minutes.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Long-handled fish spatula
– Grill screen or large fish-grilling basket.
Indirect heat, medium (325° to 350°F)
3- or 4-burner grill – middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill -1 side off
Clean, oiled grate
Indirect heat, medium ash
Split charcoal bed (about 2 dozen coals per side)
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 6 SERVINGS)
3 small leeks (about 3 ounces each), dark greens removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Oil for coating grill grate and screen or basket
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 wild salmon, about 4 pounds, head, scales, and fins removed
1 ounce horseradish, freshly grated (about ¼ cup)
1 small cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and finely diced
1 jar (4 ounces) salmon roe caviar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives.
1. Heat the grill as directed.
2. Cut the hairy roots from the ends of the leeks where they meet the bulb. Do not cut into the bulb of the leek or it will fall apart when you grill it. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise. Run cold water through the leek leaves to wash out sand deposits that tend to collect in the outer leaves. Pat dry and coat with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil.
3. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the leeks, cut-side down, on the grill directly over the fire. Cover and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Flip the leeks, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes more, until tender. Transfer to a cutting board and chop finely.
4. Remove the zest from the lemons with a fine grater; reserve half for the salsa. In a bowl, mix the remaining zest, leeks, butter, dill, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
5. Scrape the dull side of a knife against the skin of the salmon, running from tail to head, to remove excess moisture and fine scales. Cut 6 diagonal slices through the flesh of the fish on each side down to the bone. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Fill the slits with the leek mixture and rub any excess into the interior cavity. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and pour half of it all over the fish; set aside.
6. Make the salsa by combining the horseradish, remaining lemon zest and lemon juice, cucumber, salmon roe, chives, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl; keep refrigerated.
7. Coat the salmon on all sides with the remaining 4 teaspoons olive oil. Oil the grill screen or fish basket liberally. Put the screen or basket on the grill away from the heat, cover, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the salmon registers 130°F (until the fish barely flakes when gently pressed), about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 375°F.
8. If the skin should tear when you flip the fish, don’t worry about it. Simply peel the skin off before serving. Use the slashes in the flesh to help portion the fish. Serve with the salsa.