Chris Cooks

Grilled Lemon Pepper Salmon (or, Salmon with Lemon and Pepper Sauce)

June 10, 2013  —  Written by Chris 

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I’ve somehow morphed my blogging schedule into this weekly theme sorta thing. Not sure how that happened, but we’re just running with it. This week – grilling in a less obvious way.

Admit it, when you hear someone talk about “grilling,” you automatically think about burgers and hot dogs. Maybe ribs and bratwurst. All of those are toward the top of my list of things I love to eat, but the grill is perhaps the most versatile cooking apparatus out there. You can grill almost anything and it will be as good or better than using a pan or oven. So I want to share a few things you can do with your grill that you might never have done before, and hopefully we’ll get those coals blazing all summer long.

I don’t consider myself a food snob. I would say I’m pretty openminded and will eat just about anything. I mean, how picky could I possibly be when microwaved corn dogs are one of my favorite snacks? That said, lemon pepper is where I get a little snobby. Lemon and pepper make a wonderful pair, but lemon pepper is just lazy. Is it really too much effort to mix lemon, salt, pepper and a little sugar? It will take 30 seconds and be infinitely better than lemon pepper seasoning mix. Someone left a bottle of lemon pepper at our apartment 4 years ago and I can count on zero fingers the number of times we’ve used it. I should just toss it out. Actually, I’m gonna do it now. brb.

Ok I’m back. It took some digging but I found it by an old jar of bay leaves I didn’t know I had. I kept the bay leaves. Tossed the lemon pepper. Moving on.

The list of ingredients I just gave for lemon pepper would make a great seasoning, but I’m going to share another lemon pepper recipe today – my grilled lemon pepper salmon. But it’s not the type of lemon pepper you’re thinking. Check it.

Here’s what you need:
• 1 1/2 jalapeños
• 1 green bell pepper
• 1 lemon
• 2 green onions
1/3 cup cilantro
1/3 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 pinches of salt
3-4 grinds black pepper (like a teaspoon or so)

This is a lemon pepper sauce where the “pepper” refers to green bell and jalapeños, not black pepper. Trust me, it’s good.

First, the bulleted ingredients get grilled on high heat. Cut the lemon in half and just lay it face down on the grill. For the peppers, turn frequently and be sure to get a nice even char. The peppers take the longest, so start them first, then add your lemon and then the green onion. The green onion goes fast. Once grilled, remove the stem, ribs and seeds from the green pepper and the jalapeños. No need to peel the peppers, unless you have a blender that won’t be able to annihilate the skins. If you’re blender will struggle, take the peppers from the grill and put them into a ziplock bag immediately. Leave for about 5 minutes and the skin should come right off.

Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a blender (careful for the seeds – don’t want them to sneak in. use a strainer if needed). Add the rest of the ingredients listed above and blend on high until completely smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings however you like.

Once that’s done, get to grilling the salmon fillets. Be sure to keep the skin on for grilling. Scrape off the scales and rinse in cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel and rub with a little light olive oil (not extra virgin). Sprinkle each piece with a pinch of salt, 2-3 grinds of black pepper, and  grill on medium heat, skin side down. Cook it most of the way with the skin side down to get the skin nice and crispy. Most people won’t eat it, but some people will if it’s crispy enough. You may want to brush a little oil to the top before flipping, to keep it from sticking. Only grill on the top for a minute or two. If it seems undercooked, flip it back over to the skin side, close the grill and let it “bake” until you’re satisfied with it. Salmon is notorious for sticking, and it begins flaking very easily once cooked, so be careful; employ some finesse and patience. Serve with grilled asparagus (asparagus tossed in oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper – grilled until done), and top the salmon with your lemon pepper sauce, like so:

The sauce is fresh with a kick, and will rock your socks off. I’m sure of it. Paired with the salmon (or even chicken), it’s a great summertime dinner and will leave you feeling full, but also good about yourself because it’s healthy. So make it for your family or friends and see how they react. I bet you’ll never look at lemon pepper dishes the same way again.

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What do you think?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ohhhhh my goodness! I’ve had this saved in my inbox for a while and finally got around to making it tonight. YUM!! Thank you for this delicious recipe!

    • I’m so glad you liked it!

    • Ok, so I just had to send you a little update (yeah, I’m the same as anonymous…). I had some leftover sauce from making this the other night and I really wanted to use it for lunch today when my friends came over (because, well, that sauce was impressive!). When I made it for my husband and I, I served it on chicken because my husband isn’t really a big salmon guy. So today I decided to try it on some fish– I served it over macadamia nut encrusted mahi mahi with a sprinkling of lump crab meat on top and grilled asparagus on the side. Ohhhh man it was SO so good and my friends loved it. Thanks for making me look like such a pro in the kitchen! Keep posting your delicious creations! :)

    • Wow, it sounds like you already ARE the pro! Macadamia nut crusted mahi maui and crab – that’s awesome! Nice work, Jordan. :)

  2. Sam F says:

    This sounds amazing! I love peppers, but I’m one of those people that hates cilantro! If there’s too much of it in something or if I can bite down on the tiniest piece of leaf or stem, it really ruins things for me. So, my question is, do you have any suggestions for a substitute or should I just leave the cilantro out? I’ve heard some say to replace the cilantro with parsley, so I’m wondering if that’s what you might recommend or if you have any other ideas/opinions on the matter?

  3. Lindsey says:

    Can’t wait to try this.
    I made your BBQ sauce with the oven ribs on Sunday for my family and they LOVED it. I even served the broccoli salad as a side.
    I like your cooking style Chris! Thanks for entering the Blog world :)

  4. I. Love. Salmon. This looks amazing!!

  5. Oh man! That looks so good! If only I wasn’t allergic to salmon! :(

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