When I first started grilling, I had one of those beginner's luck experiences that made grilled salmon and pineapple a mainstay in my dinner rotation.
I was visiting my uncle in Florida and offered to make dinner. The only thing that everyone ate was salmon, so salmon it was! I wanted to give the salmon a sweet-and-sour flavor much like my uncle's favorite Asian dish. So I marinated the fish, scallions and thick slices of pineapple with traditional Asian seasonings of toasted sesame oil, fresh ginger, citrus juice, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.
Because there was a fair amount of sugar in the marinade, I grilled the salmon on a cedar plank so it wouldn't burn and the bottom skin wouldn't get too fishy. By contrast, I wanted the whole scallions and the pineapple rings to char in places. I placed them directly on the cooking grate around the planked salmon so the natural sugars would caramelize.
The sweet ingredients in the marinade may promote sticking, so use a wood plank if possible. If you don't use a plank, slide two spatulas under the fish — one from each side — and lift, leaving the skin on the grill. If you like salmon skin, turn up the heat and let crisp for two to three minutes before removing from the grill. If you don't like the skin, place the burners on high and burn the skin off. Brush the grates once the salmon skin has turned to "ash."
Add steamed jasmine rice and you have a grilled meal with an appealing sweet-and-sour ying and yang.
Wild salmon with grilled pineapple and scallions
Grilling Method: Indirect/Medium Heat
1 center-cut wild salmon fillet, about 2 pounds
½ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice, about 3 juicy limes
Juice and zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons juice and ½ teaspoon zest)
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, about a 5-inch knob
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 golden pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into rings
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cleaned
Fleur de Sel
Special Equipment: Cedar or alder wood plank, soaked in water
Marinating Time: 20 minutes
Remove any bones from the fish with a pair of tweezers; rinse, pat dry and set aside.
Combine the lime juice, orange juice and zest, vinegar, oils, brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce and sesame seeds in an extra-large heavy-duty plastic food bag. Add salmon, pineapple rings and scallions; seal securely. Rotate to distribute marinade and make sure all the food is covered. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour, turning occasionally.
Remove fish, pineapple and scallions from marinade and drain, discarding marinade. (Alternatively, boil the marinade for three minutes and serve as a sauce for the fish.) Lay fish, skin side down, on a soaked cedar plank or directly on a very clean cooking grate. Cook for 10 minutes.
After the fish has cooked for 10 minutes, place pineapple rings and scallions directly over the heat on either side of the fish. Turn pineapple and scallions once halfway during the cooking time, about three to four minutes per side. Remove fruit and scallions to a clean plate when they are warmed through and marked on the outside.
The fish is done when the flesh is opaque and the stripes between the orange flesh are solid white, about 20-25 minutes.
Transfer the fish to a platter along with fruit. Garnish with lime wedges. Season to taste with salt.
Makes 6-8 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 256 calories; 111 calories from fat; 13 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 62 mg cholesterol; 169 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 24 g protein.
Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pit master at online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com and the author of three books, including "Taming the Flame."