3 ratings

Turmeric Grilled Salmon with Ginger Yogurt Sauce and Grilled Pita

Fresh and flavorful
Turmeric Salmon Ginger Yogurt Sauce Grilled Pita
Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune; Shannon Kinsella/food styling

My spice drawer proves inspiration for keeping our everyday cooking thrilling without a huge time commitment. Turmeric, a warm-tasting spice, pairs beautifully with earthy paprika and cumin — spices I always have on hand. Mixed with a bit of grated onion and garlic, I make a marinade that does double duty as a seasoning for fish fillets and the basis of a no-cook creamy sauce.

I serve the salmon and sauce for dinner and pile leftovers onto toasted pita the next day for lunch. The fish and yogurt sauce also taste great cold served over Boston or bibb lettuce. The turmeric marinade tastes equally delicious with boneless chicken breasts and pork tenderloin. If you butterfly the chicken breasts and the pork tenderloin, the cook time will be about the same as the salmon — about 10 minutes.


  • 2 salmon fillets, about 1 pound each and 1 ¼ inches thick
  • 1/2 small red or white onion
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 Teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper hot sauce
  • 1/2 Cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon milk, half-and-half or whipping cream
  • 2 Teaspoons grated fresh ginger or refrigerated ginger puree
  • 2 Tablespoons thinly sliced green onion tops or chives
  • 6 pita breads (with or without pockets) or 6 thick slices country-style bread
  • 1 large tomato, halved, seeded, chopped
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, diced
  • Chopped fresh mint or basil or a combination
  • Lime wedges


Step 1: Pat fish dry with paper towels; place it in a baking dish.

Step 2: Use a four-sided grater to finely grate the 1/2 onion into a mixing bowl.

Step 3: Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon of the salt, ½ teaspoon of the turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Mix well. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the mixture to a separate bowl; set aside. Smear remaining mixture over all sides of the fish. Let sit at room temperature while the grill heats (maximum 30 minutes) or in the refrigerator for several hours.

Step 4: Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium hot. When the grill is hot, heat the grill grate. Alternatively, heat a broiler to high and position the rack so the food will cook 6 inches from heat source.

Step 5: As the grill heats, make the sauce by stirring 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon milk, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, remaining ½ teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric into the reserved 1 tablespoon of marinade. Stir in 2 tablespoons green onions or chives. 

Step 6: Put the fish on the grill directly over the heat source, skin side up. (Or on the broiler pan.) Grill, covered, without turning the fish until it releases from the grill grates, about 4 minutes. Use a thin spatula to gently flip the fish fillets. Grill, covered, until flesh almost flakes, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a platter.

Step 7: Set the flatbreads over the grill grates (or in a toaster); cook turning, until warmed and a bit crisped, about 2 minutes.

Step 8: Top fish with a generous spoonful of the yogurt sauce, tomatoes and avocado. Serve garnished with herbs and lime wedges for squeezing over everything. Pass the grilled bread. For sandwiches the next day, simply break the fish into large chunks and serve tucked inside the pita or piled on top to fold in half to eat.