northwest barbecued sockeye salmon

Sliced and sprinkled with rub, sockeye salmon ready for the grill. Lemon and parsley on the side.

Bristol Bay, Alaska, is home to the largest commercial wild salmon fishery in the world. Every year, an average of 38 million sockeye return to Bristol Bay. Our friends in Bellingham have been fishing Bristol Bay for over 30 years, and Mary offered to share her favorite preparation for fresh salmon. Yep, it is delicious. This spice rub recipe is adapted from The Sustainable Kitchen: Passionate Cooking Inspired by Farms, Forests, and Oceans by Stu Stein, Mary Hinds, and Judith Dern.

northwest barbecued salmon

Serves: 10
Cooking Time: 10 minutes


  • 4 pounds skin-on sockeye fillets (about 2 large) or other fresh salmon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Spice rub:
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • yogurt + dill sauce:
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill



Using fish-bone tweezers (or a clean pair of needle-nose pliers), remove the pin bones from each piece of salmon.


Mix all the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.


Oil the barbecue grate and heat it to medium high.


Rinse the fillets, pat them dry, and lay each of them on a sheet of foil large enough to fold over the whole fillet. Drizzle each fillet with the olive oil, then generously sprinkle the spice rub over the salmon. Fold the foil over each fillet and pinch the top to form a pouch.


Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the flesh starts to look opaque and begins to flake (test with a fork). Sockeye is firmer than other species of salmon and can overcook easily, so it’s a great idea to pull it off the grill when there is still a tiny bit of dark orange showing inside the thick parts of the fish—it will finish cooking on its own. Serve with yogurt-dill sauce.

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