This post is made in partnership with Kvarøy Arctic Salmon
Sharing a meal is to share life and to share life is to share a meal. Coming together to eat is one of the most important and meaningful social interactions we can take part in, creating a sense of belonging and equality. It’s necessary to eat, but the joy of eating with others is what truly elevates every bite.
This recipe for Grilled Whole Salmon came from the desire to create a simple and delicious main dish celebrating people coming together in conjunction with the Norwegian concept of dugnad which draws the community together through volunteering and support. It’s a concept that is deeply rooted and practiced here in Norway and by Kvarøy Arctic, who I have the pleasure of partnering with, and who view their role among the community and the philosophy by which they operate within this framework of serving.
Traditionally, dugnad would involve completing large tasks around the farm and fisheries and then conclude with a celebratory meal. It was a give and take, where people would help others knowing that when the time came for them to need help themselves, they would have it.
Today, dugnad is performed regularly throughout the country through maintenance work, spring cleaning, building projects, refurbishing projects, gardening, and raising money and support for local, national and international causes.
This ideal of coming together for a common goal and to celebrate the finished work with a meal is part of the joyous fabric of life. It’s made even more joyous when the meal itself is delicious and satisfying. A whole salmon is a simple and quick main to serve when feeding many mouths. It’s also an eye-catching centerpiece creating a wow-factor that’s sure to impress. Serving it couldn’t be simpler either, all you need is a serving utensil, and the guests can help themselves.
There are various ways to grill a whole salmon and I have included some suggestions in the recipe below. Typical sides for salmon in Norway include grilled vegetables, cucumber salad and potato salad, although you can serve whatever local and seasonal sides you prefer.
Grilled Whole Salmon for a Crowd
- 1 9 to 11 pound (4 to 5 kg) whole Kvarøy Arctic salmon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 shallots, sliced
- 3 lemons, divided
- 6 tablespoons (84 g) butter, divided
- Handful of fresh dill and parsley
* The salmon must be cooked over indirect heat. If using a pellet grill (as I did here), place the salmon directly onto the grates – there is no need to turn the salmon at all while cooking. If using charcoal, liberally oil the grates and move the hot coals to one side and cook the salmon on the other side, turning once halfway. If using a gas grill, place the salmon on a large baking fish tray and turn once halfway.
Preheat the grill for indirect heat at 375 F (190C).
Using paper towels, wipe the outside and inside of the salmon clean. Liberally season the inside with salt and pepper. Layer the sliced shallots inside. Cut 2 of the lemons into slices, reserving 4 slices for the top, and layer the rest on top of the shallots. Cut half of the butter into small pieces and place toward the innermost part and layer with dill and parsley.
Using a sharp knife, cut 4 diagonal and evenly spaced slices on top of the salmon. Place a lemon slice in each cut. Cut the remaining lemon in half and squeeze some juice on top. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the top of the salmon. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the salmon directly onto the grill grates with foil below. Grill with the lid closed for about 1 hour or until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 140 F (60 C). Using a large spatula or two, carefully transfer the salmon to a large serving tray. Allow guests to help themselves by peeling the skin away to reach the flesh, being wary of bones. Serve with seasonal sides and lemon wedges.