A simple salmon for springtime grilling

Start with the best fish you can get your hands on, and the rest is easy

Photo: Daytona Strong Why mess with quality? When the salmon is this good, cook it simply and serve a complementary sauce on the side.

Photo: Daytona Strong
Why mess with quality? When the salmon is this good, cook it simply and serve a complementary sauce on the side.

Daytona Strong
Norwegian American Weekly

Dinner this time of year is usually pretty simple at my house: fish or meat cooked on the grill and lots of fresh produce. I load salads with thinly sliced cucumbers, quartered radishes, and halved cherry tomatoes and serve them with homemade vinaigrette. Fresh herbs abound. Vegetables like zucchini and asparagus are so plentiful and full of flavor that they are best when simply prepared. The same goes with the protein: We choose quality ingredients and interfere as little as possible to let their true flavors shine.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re lucky enough to have access to incredible salmon. I sometimes see recipes for complicated preparations, ones that mix or cover the fish with assertive ingredients, and I think to myself, why would I want to mask the flavor of the salmon like that? Around my house, all we usually do is brush the fish with olive oil and season it with sea salt or kosher salt, and maybe a little pepper, before putting it on the grill.

That said, I’m also a fan of variety, so I sometimes like to make a simple sauce to serve on the side. This lemon horseradish cream complements the fish and accents its delicate flavor, and it couldn’t be easier. Just take a generous dollop of sour cream and stir in a little freshly grated horseradish, fresh dill, lemon juice and zest, and a touch of salt and sugar. Let the flavors mingle while you grill the salmon—that’s it.

Serve with new potatoes tossed with butter and dill, a sliced cucumber salad, an assortment of Scandinavian cheeses with crackers, or perhaps some pickled herring, and you’ll have a satisfying meal that’s quick enough for a weeknight yet special and traditional enough for a Midsummer feast.

Grilled salmon with lemon horseradish cream
For the cream:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. freshly grated horseradish
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
1 scant tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. sugar

For the salmon:
1 2-pound fillet salmon, skin-on
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper (optional)
Lemon wedges, for serving

Make the cream by combining sour cream, horseradish, dill, lemon juice and zest, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or longer if possible) so the flavors can mingle. Taste, and adjust seasonings if you desire.

Prepare a hot grill. Brush olive oil on the salmon and season with salt and pepper. Place salmon flesh side down and grill for 3 to 4 minutes to sear (cooking time and technique may vary depending on the thickness of your salmon and the heat of your particular grill). Flip the salmon, turning down the heat, and continue cooking until it reaches desired doneness, about 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon and the heat of the grill.

Serve salmon with the cream and lemon wedges. Serves 4.

This recipe originally appeared in my article, “Nordic in the Northwest,” in the September 3, 2013, issue of The Oregonian.

Daytona Strong is a Seattle-based food writer and recipe developer. She writes about her family’s Scandinavian heritage through the lens of food at www.outside-oslo.com. Find her on Facebook www.facebook.com/OutsideOslo; Twitter @daytonastrong; Pinterest @daytonastrong; and Instagram @daytonastrong.

This article also appeared in the May 15, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.