Grilled Salmon

In today’s L.A. Times there was a piece about an investigation into restaurants and markets and even sushi bars mislabeling seafood. This is a repeat of  other investigations of some east coast cities with the same predicament. Most of the mislabeling was clearly for profit, passing off cheaper and more available fish for more expensive species. In some cases it was unclear at what point this fraud had occurred. They understandably did not publish the restaurants or markets involved.

So how does the consumer process this information? Who do you trust? I think that this question is the same no matter what the subject matter. Trust is something that is built up over a long relationship. This is one of the reasons that I continue to go back to the same restaurants and stores. I have often said: “Find a fishmonger that you can trust and they will steer you away from the bad stuff.”

The perfect example was sited in the article. 100% of the red snapper that they tested was not red snapper. It was reported to often be talapia. I can tell you that this switch was happening at the retail level. Any fishmonger, no matter how inexperienced, would know the difference. They look nothing alike. One is RED! Granted, once they are filleted they can look similar but the snapper usually still has a red tinge. If you shop at a fishmonger that consistently gives you good fish that is fresh, smells good and does not make you sick then stick with them. They may be fooled once in a while but they will not knowingly pass it on to you.

Another example was sort of funny. There were incidents of amberjack (tuna) being passed off as yellowtail (tuna). These are actually quite similar and both from the tuna family. I’m not even sure how they were able to tell. I regularly eat amberjack at the sushi bar on purpose. But I guarantee that my sushi chef – who I have been going to for 25 years – could tell the difference even if he were blindfolded and had a cold. He knows every species and the subtle differences that separate the good from the great. He taught my son the joys of sushi since Harrison was little and only ordered rice balls; he has seen all of our kids grow up (eating his sushi) and would never knowing do anything to risk our trust.

So the conclusion of this study is clear. The relationships that you make in your community with the suppliers of your food are just as important as the laws governing what they sell. Find people you like and trust and stick with them. And if one sells you tilapia, it’s time for a new relationship.


  • 2-4 Salmon Fillets, skin on
  • Lemon
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper


  • Grill or Grill Pan
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Spatula
  1. Fire up the grill.
  2. Wash and pat dry the fillets. With your (clean) hands run along the ridge to feel for any bones still remaining. Remove with pliers (kitchen dedicated, cleaned ones please) trying not to destroy the meat.
  3. Very lightly drizzle olive oil over the fillets and rub in with your fingers.
  4. Squeeze juice of lemon over each, about a 1/2 lemon per fillet.
  5. Lightly salt and pepper.
  6. Grill skin side down, do not turn.
  7. The fish is done when there is plenty of white on the top. You can cut in the center to see if it is cooked to your liking. A medium size fillet should take about 15 minutes.
  8. In order to remove from the grill I often slip my spatula in-between the fish and the skin, leaving the skin on the grill until cleanup.
This is a simple, unadulterated dish. You can add all kinds of things, but when the fish is good it needs nothing else. 

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