The Flipping Mistake You Need To Avoid When Grilling Salmon

When it comes to cooking salmon, there's something special about the smoky flavor a grill yields. However, those grill grates can be a tough cookie to break your fish free from when attempting to flip them. While there are many tricks out there to get your grill as non-stick as possible — like coating your meat with oil or cooking spray to reduce flare-ups or rubbing the grates with a cut potato or onion – salmon still tends to stick like glue. This is because fish contains certain proteins that attract the metal in grill grates, causing them to integrate. However, the grill isn't the only issue, as the utensil plays just as important of a role. 

A metal spatula, which is one of the most common grilling tools to use, could surprisingly be the reason you're unable to flip your fish with ease. You see, once your salmon is face-down on the grill and appears to have formed some nice grill marks, you'll notice that it has sunk into the grates as it has cooked. It's not sitting completely flat on the surface of the grill anymore. Therefore, when attempting to flip it with a metal spatula, it's inevitably going to tear the skin and cause your fish to fall apart. Instead, swap in a fork or cooking tweezers.

Don't use a metal spatula

That's right, while a metal spatula is an extremely versatile tool in the kitchen, when working with such a delicate cut of fish like salmon, it can have a harsh impact on the texture when it comes to flipping off those stubborn grates. The proper utensil should be skinny enough to fit down in between the grill grates, such as a fork or cooking tweezers that have prongs. Using such a tool can allow you to insert the thin prongs in between the grates and underneath the fish. From there, you can slowly lift upwards, releasing the salmon from the grates, maneuvering it onto your spatula, or flipping it directly onto the other side. 

While you would think a fish spatula is perfect for performing a technique such as this, it's actually best for flipping fish that is cooked in a skillet, as that is much more of a flat surface compared to a grill.

Furthermore, to make your fish even more stick-resistant to those grill grates, be sure to thoroughly clean your grill before firing it up, greasing the grates and the fish before cooking it, and making sure the grill is piping hot before adding your fish. With these simple tips, you're sure to win those oh-so-satisfying grill marks with ease.