Last week was a long week. Not a bad week, but a long one. The kind of week where at the end you’re completely wiped out, can’t do anything. You want to spend Saturday all you want to do is spend the day in your pajamas, with a stack of pancakes, some magazines, and a few rounds of video games. Or at least I did this past weekend. It wasn’t quite that relaxing. There were things to get done and birthday parties to be had, all good things, but not exactly quiet and restful. But there was an easy grilled fish dinner to look forward to at the end of the weekend.
I know, ‘easy’ and ‘grilled fish’ don’t generally go together. Usually grilling itself requires pre-dinner cleaning, one of my least favorite tasks. In a perfect world I would clean my grill every time I use it so that when I opened it up to cook dinner it would be clean. But in the real world, I turn off the grill, eat dinner, and then completely forget about my plan to clean it until the next time I want to grill something and I’m greeted with grates that need a good five minutes of scraping. And then of course I forget to oil the grates after cleaning them, or I’m just too lazy to do it after already having to clean it off before I even start cooking. The vicious cycle continues. Let’s skip all that mess and just get straight to the grilled fish.
Instead of wrestling the fish off the grill, I tucked in into a little foil packet. It’s a sort of summertime grilled fish en papillote. The fish doesn’t necessarily pick up a grilled flavor, although it would if you used charcoal instead of a gas grill. Instead, it steams gently in the packet, picking up the flavors of whatever you happen to tuck it with it, like marinating without having to spend time marinating before cooking. And you avoid having to turn on the oven in the summer. And you don’t have to clean the grill. Double bonus.
Since I was already putting the fish in the packet, I just put the rest of the meal in there too. Potatoes and leeks and broccoli, all tossed with a garlic herb oil went into the foil packets with the salmon on top, then fold up the foil packets and put them on the grill. Pour yourself a drink and sit down to enjoy it because until the timer goes off, these are no work at all. The fish ends up light and flaky, slightly herbal and garlicky. The potatoes and leeks are soft but not mushy, and there’s a little sauce at the bottom of the packet, just perfect for pouring over everything on your plate.
- ½ bunch of parsley
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp chile flake
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tsp kosher salt
- 1½ lbs salmon, cut into 4 pieces
- ½ lb potatoes, sliced into ⅛-1/4 inch slices (a mandolin is super helpful here)
- 1 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced inch ⅛ inch thick rings
- Up to 1 lb of extra vegetables, including broccoli, cherry tomatoes, green beans, onions, etc*
- CHOP the parsley and garlic very fine and combine them in a small bowl with the chile flake, dried thyme and the oil.
- TOSS potatoes, leeks, and any other vegetables with 3 tbs of the flavored oil and 2 tsp kosher salt.
- TEAR four pieces of foil, approximately 18 by 12 inches (most rolls of foil are about 12 inches across so it should be a rectangle). Spoon a quarter of the vegetable mix onto each piece of foil and top with a piece of fish. Sprinkle each piece of fish with about ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt and drizzle with about ½ teaspoon of the flavored oil. Fold up the ends of the foil to create a sealed package. Repeat with the remaining packets
- PREHEAT your grill to a medium-low heat (aiming for around 300ish degrees) and when it's hot, add the sealed foil packets and close the lid. Let them cook for 5 minutes.
- ROTATE the foil packages - grills have hot spots like ovens so try make sure each package gets a turn in the hot spot - and let them cook for another 5 minutes.
- CHECK the fish for doneness after 10 minutes of total cook time, but it may take up to 12-15 for the fish to be done in the middle, depending on how well done you like your salmon. To check, open up a package, and use a fork to flake the fish and see how done it is inside. Or use a thermometer and look for about 125-130 degrees for medium. I like mine on the rarer side and it took about 12 minutes on a medium-low grill, but grills can be finicky about temperature so keep an eye on the fish to avoid overcooking.
Serve the packets as is on plates and let diners open them at the table, or you can turn them out of their foil pouches and serve it on a plate. Either way, these are excellent hot off the grill or cold as leftovers for the next few days.