Food & dining

The confident cook

Recipe: On the Fourth, salmon with herb oil and smashed whole potatoes are on the grill

Grilled salmon with herb oil and smashed whole potatoes
Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe
Grilled salmon with herb oil and smashed whole potatoes

The key to grilling fish is to set it on a very hot rack that has been cleaned and oiled right before you use it. Salmon holds up well on the grill because of its firm flesh and high fat content; a little bit of herb oil adds flavor and helps keep the fish from sticking. Cook the fish without moving it until it’s almost done; this makes the grill marks. Then, carefully turn the fish with a spatula and finish cooking for just a minute or two on the second side.

You can cook the potatoes the old campfire way or try something new. For the old way, wrap uncooked potatoes in foil, place the packet in a medium-hot spot, and forget about it. Or take your potatoes to the next level. Simmer them first in boiling water until they are just barely cooked through. Cool and gently smash to form thick, flat disks that are loosely held together with skin. Rub them with herb oil and grill them until the skins are crispy and the flesh is soft. If you’ve boiled your potatoes a bit too long, and they begin to fall apart, quickly transfer them to an oiled sheet of foil and place the foil in a hot spot. Because the potatoes take time on the grill, get them started before you cook the salmon.



Grilled salmon with herb oil and smashed whole potatoes

Serves 4

4medium Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes (about 1½ pounds), each smaller than a tennis ball
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil (for the grill)
1cup olive oil
Grated rind of 1 lemon
½cup chopped fresh parsley
¼cup chopped fresh thyme
pounds skinless, boneless salmon, cut into 4 even-size pieces

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

1. In a large saucepan, cover the whole potatoes with cold water and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender but not overly soft. Drain and cool.

2. When they are cool enough to handle, use the palm of your hand to gently smash the potatoes into thick, flat cakes. Alternatively, place a small plate on top of 1 potato and press down gently until the potato turns into a thick round; repeat with the others.

3. Heat a charcoal grill or turn a gas grill to medium-high in one spot, high in another. Brush the grill rack clean and oil it.

4. In a bowl, combine olive oil, lemon rind, parsley, and thyme.


5. Sprinkle the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Using 1 heaping tablespoon of the herb oil for each piece of salmon and each potato, rub them all over.

6. Gently place potatoes on the grill rack in the medium-high spot. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes on a side, or until skins are crispy and flesh is tender when pierced with a skewer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

7. On a hot side of the grill, place salmon, skinned side up, on the rack. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes without moving the fish, or until it is almost cooked through. With a large metal spatula, carefully turn each piece of fish. Continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes on the second side.

8. Drizzle the remaining herb oil over the salmon and potatoes. Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Karoline Boehm Goodnick can be reached at