Grilled Crispy-Skinned Salmon with Whole Lemon-Sesame Sauce

Adding a whole lemon—pores and skin, pith, and flesh—to the sauce provides it with brightness and texture. Any bitterness from the pith could be offset by using the sesame oil and honey. That stability makes it a fantastic versatile condiment that pairs well with grilled or roasted greens and is exceptional as a topping for stews and braises come wintry weather. And remember: You genuinely want to cook dinner fish that also has its pores and skin on. It protects the fish even as it grills and, despite what you suspect or have been informed, will assist it launch from the grill grates extra easily.

Grilled Crispy-Skinned Salmon with Whole Lemon-Sesame Sauce
Grilled Crispy-Skinned Salmon with Whole Lemon-Sesame Sauce


  • 4 6-oz. skin-on salmon fillets, pin bones removed, patted dry
  • 2 Tbsp. plus ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grill
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small lemon
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves


  • Prepare a grill for medium heat. Rub salmon with 2 Tbsp. olive oil; season both sides with salt.
  • Cut ends off lemon and discard. Place lemon upright and slice off outer lobes in 4 sections, leaving a square-shaped core and seeds behind. Finely chop lobes (flesh, pith, and all) and transfer to a small bowl (you should have about ⅓ cup). Squeeze out the juice from core over bowl. Add shallot, sesame seeds, honey, sesame oil, and remaining ⅓ cup olive oil; season with salt and lots of pepper. Toss to combine.
  • Clean and oil grate, then immediately place salmon on grill skin side down. Cover grill and cook, skin side down the entire time, until the skin is lightly charred and fish is opaque, 6–8 minutes. Transfer salmon to a plate and let cool slightly.
  • Divide salmon among plates. Top with basil. Spoon lemon-sesame sauce over.
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