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Rubbed Grilled Salmon

Once salmon season has finally arrived, this is one of our very favorite ways of enjoying it! It’s anything but ordinary, it’s easy, it’s memorable and it’s positively delicious. It all starts with the rub, a collection of whole spices dry-roasted, then ground. I know the list of ingredients may give the appearance of complicated and time-consuming – but the rub will take you about 15 minutes to prepare, and likely last you all summer and maybe months beyond. The rest of the dish is a snap!  You like salmon? You will love this! (You might want to keep the recipe handy – you’ll likely be getting plenty of requests for it.)

The Rub:

In a heavy hot skillet, toast the following ingredients for approximately 4 minutes. You want them to brown slightly and begin to release their aromas. But stop short of smoking!

  • 3 Tbl. coriander seeds
  • 3 Tbl. mustard seeds
  • 3 Tbl. cumin seeds
  • 3 Tbl. dry dill seeds
  • 6 Tbl. fennel seeds

Remove the seeds from the hot pan and allow to cool slightly. Grind in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle. My preference is to have a few whole seeds remaining, but you can grind them as finely as you like. Then add:

  • 6 Tbl. sugar
  • 3 Tbl. kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. finely ground pepper

Mix well. Stored in an air-tight jar, it will keep for months.

The Fish:

  • Enough salmon fillets to feed your crowd – steelhead fillets are a good substitute

Sprinkle a generous amount of spice rub over the flesh of the salmon and then pat it in place.  If you’re going to be using an oven, preheat it to 400°F. If using an outdoor gas grill, bring it up to the same temperature.

Heat a heavy frying pan (cast iron is great) over a medium-high burner. Drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil into the pan and swirl to coat. Place the fish, flesh-side down into the hot pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Flip the fish over and place it into your preheated oven or grill to finish. Depending on the thickness of your fish, this may take another 5 to 7 minutes longer. It will be firm to the touch and will flake apart with a fork. It will smell amazing.

 This is wonderful accompanied by grilled corn on the cob, or black beans squirted with fresh lime,  and a bright green salad. Or fresh green beans or sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil. It’s goes well with all the good things of summer!

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Darlyn #


    May 28, 2011
  2. Ashley #

    Positively beautiful photographs! Love the idea of that rub on hand for the summer.

    May 28, 2011
  3. This is one of those dishes that gives a cook deep satisfaction. It’s exceedingly simple and has great pay off. From the spicy ocean aroma, to the beauty of the crusty surface, to each delectable mouthful! Four of us devoured this tonight and loved it.

    It was easy to sear the salmon on the burner then transfer to the grill. I even let the salmon wait 10-15 minutes for artichoke to cook before the final grilling… Now I have a good jarful of spice mix to use again and again this summer! (Incidentally, I couldn’t find dill seed, and left it out, but will add it when I do. Still delicioso!)

    May 29, 2011

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