Harissa-Rubbed Grilled Alaskan Salmon | Wine Enthusiast
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Harissa-Rubbed Grilled Alaskan Salmon

Tyson Fick has devoted his career to Alaskan salmon. A part-time commercial fisherman and former fishing guide, Fick has served as spokesman for the Alaskan fishing industry for the last five years. He’s caught and eaten more than his share of the five Pacific varieties: king (a k a Chinook), sockeye, coho, pink and chum.

“Salmon is not just salmon,” he says. “They all have slightly different flavors and mouthfeel, so they pair differently with wine. The king and sockeye have a more robust flavor and more Omega-3s than pink, so they can pair well with Pinot Noir.”

Wild Pacific salmon typically has half the total fat of its farm-raised Atlantic counterparts. Fick says most of the wild salmon sold in U.S. supermarkets is sockeye, with its bright red flesh and flaky texture. Fick likes to season his sockeye lightly with spicy Middle Eastern harissa and grill it with care.


4 skin-on sockeye salmon fillets, about 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons harissa paste (available in specialty shops or Middle Eastern groceries)


Rub salmon with harissa. Marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes. Lightly oil grill and heat to 500˚F. Place filets over direct heat, flesh-side down. Turn after 3 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets. Move fillets away from direct heat, and reduce temperature or move coals away. Cook 8 minutes, or until center just turns from red to pink. Use spatula to separate and lift fillets from skin (unless you like crispy skin). Serve on warm plates. Serves 4.

Pair It

Silas 2014 The Pearl Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley); $45, 91 points. A sleek, striking wine with wild-picked berry flavors of cranberry and raspberry, this underwent native yeast fermentation and rested on the lees for nine months. It’s fragrant, balanced and long, with bright fruit still quite fresh and lively. —Paul Gregutt

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