Salty's Executive Chef Jeremy McLachlan

How Salmon Almost Killed Me But Then Saved My Life!

By Chef Jeremy McLachlan

Salmon has been a big part of my entire life. The story begins when I started salmon fishing with my dad at the tender age of four. As a curious kid, I leaned over the edge of the boat to see what my dad was trying to catch in his net and I splashed headfirst right into the water! I got a couple swallows of the Columbia River, but luckily my dad always practiced safe boating and I bobbed up floating in my life vest. After a quick boat ride back to our campsite and an hour in front of the fire, I was fine.

This life-threatening event might detour some kids from fishing but not me. I liked it, I loved it, and I wanted more! Through the remaining years of salmon fishing, I have lived to tell about a fishhook piercing my kneecap (ouch), another hooked my cheek (like Something About Mary) and many bumps and bruises too.

Salmon saved my life when I decided to become a chef at the age of twelve. After spending many hours watching Julia Child and Graham Kerr on TV, I knew it was my calling in life. I have not only served over 250,000 pounds of salmon, but also I have cooked salmon in over 5,000 different ways in my career with Salty's Seafood Grills.™

This amazing fish is versatile and healthy for you — as Kathy Kingen says: "Salmon Is My BFF."

I always tell my friends that you can do almost anything to salmon but make sure you do not overcook it. Here are some barbecue tips below along with my compound butters, which are great on barbecued salmon. (Use the butters with chicken, bread, rolls, turkey but not ice cream! Ha!)

Salmon Barbecue Tips and Butters

If you catch your own salmon, scale it but keep the skin on. This helps to keep the “good fat” in salmon (that fat is one of the reasons it’s Kathy BFF, best food friend).
Make a foil blanket or pouch for the salmon.
Season the fish with salt and pepper then pour 1/2 cup of white wine or water over the fillet to keep it fresh.
Finish the salmon with butter.
Grill it. The time depends on the size of the fish and how well your barbecue cooks. I recommend grilling for 8 minutes. then open the foil quickly and check the thickest part to see if it is cooked. If you see a little red in the middle then it is ready. If there is a bunch of white stuff (albumin) coming out you have gone too far.

Preserved Lemon Butter

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coriander, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 preserved lemon, seeded and chopped

Note: Preserved lemons are found in most specialty stores like Whole Foods, Met Market and New Seasons.

Directions: Just mix it up.

Sun-Dried Tomato Butter

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons chevre cheese
1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water until soft, then chopped
2 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions: Just mix it up.

Pesto Butter

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, ground
6 leaves basil, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions: Just mix it up.

Orange Chive Butter

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons chives, minced or chive blossoms
1 orange, zest, chopped fine
juice half the orange
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions: Just mix it up.

Chef Jeremy McLachlan is the Executive Chef for Salty's Seafood Grills. His writing appears in a series here on
To see more of his thoughts on food and some great recipes visit

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