SOTU Marinated Grilled Salmon Recipe

Doesn’t that sound Asian? But it’s just the acronym for “State of the Union” and now that President Obama has brought salmon into focus with last night’s address before a joint session of Congress, it’s time to see why it causes such a splash every time the President talks food:

“The Interior Department is charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”
— President Barack Obama, January 25, 2011


Hey, you should see what happens to it before it can be legitimately labeled as Kosher! But with salmon destined to become the new arugula*, we have to provide you with a recipe.

(* “Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula? I mean, they’re charging a lot of money for this stuff.” – Sen. Barack Obama, Iowa, 2007)


Yup, and salmon, too. But it’s partly because it’s worth it – and also because it’s Whole Foods, which some of us call “whole paycheck.” Anyway, here you go:


  • 1 to 1.5 pounds salmon fillets
  • lemon pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • salt to taste (be sparing)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Okay, first I have to tell you that all salmon fillets are not created equal and you will see that when you price them. Personally, I like wild-caught, smaller fish. I’m looking for the firmest meat I can find and in this part of the world, that often means flash frozen sockeye with a nice, tight grain to it. It can be pricey, but you’re not buying that much and there is almost no waste. You might even get lucky and find it on sale, but don’t mess with anything that has telltale frost or might present any risk of freezer burn. There’s a reason they get $12 a pound or more for the good stuff.

Season the fillets with garlic powder, lemon pepper and salt.

Mix up the ingredients in a bowl and put the mixture into a gallon-size re-sealable plastic bag with the fillet. Marinating can be as short as an hour or as long as overnight. I like to cut up the fillets because it gives the marinade better access and it makes it easier to cook, but suit yourself.

The cooking itself is a no-brainer and you can either use a medium grill or oven-roast in a glass baking dish at 400 degrees. It doesn’t take long – maybe 8 minutes on a side on the grill or 20 minutes in the oven. But rather than give you a time, LOOK at it to see when it’s done. When you see the fat oozing out like you see in the picture above, it’s well done, without being burned. You should be able to lift the meat off the skin with your fork. Personally, I like my salmon cooked a little more thoroughly and a bit more firm than some people do, so use your own judgement on this.

(Remember that if you use your grill, it should be very clean and either oiled or sprayed with a non-stick product. Otherwise, just put a piece of foil underneath, since there’s nothing worse than trying to pry a piece of baked-on fish and disintegrating it on the grill, which tends to really spoil the presentation.)

And it’s great with an arugula salad. Bon appetit!



2 Responses to “SOTU Marinated Grilled Salmon Recipe”

  1. What is arugula anyway?

    I always thought that was the sound the horn made on really old cars, like the model T…

    A— RUUUUUU—gala

  2. Well, just for the record:

    But you make a good point.

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