Summer season. Grilling. Don’t want to heat up the kitchen any more than is necessary. So, when company is coming to town and dinner for ten is in order, and half of the guests don’t eat meat (but will eat fish), what’s the imperative?
Why grilled salmon, of course!
Have you ever grilled a big piece of salmon on a cedar plank? No? You haven’t lived. Juicy, smoky, crispy, full of flavor, and just rocking with Omega 3s (I just point that out because at my age I have to be careful just what I put in my body (LOL).
The reality is, I don’t much like fish, any fish. Can’t say why; I never did like seafood beyond shellfish, but over the years I have learned to like salmon enough to find recipes that I can make and like. Like my friend Jim Coleman’s Mustard-crusted salmon with shallots and white wine. And wild salmon gently poached in white wine, pickling spices and black pepper with dill-yogurt sauce.
And now, after experimenting with recipes and techniques, I’ve finally come up with a version of Seattle’s famous cedar-planked grilled salmon that I can say is worthy of my posting here (thanks, of course, to Cooks’ Illustrated, which, if you’ve read this space, know is my bible of cooking technique).
Cedar-plank grilled salmon on the barbecue. I think it has changed my mind about fish. This is the best piece of fish I’ve ever eaten, and I’m happy to report that I actually made it myself. It’s slightly Asian in its feel, and it goes incredibly well with quick-sauteed spinach and garlic and a Thai version of my legendary (according to me) cold sesame noodle salad.
So here is my latest adaptation of a published recipe, from Cooks Illustrated to my kitchen to yours.
Cedar-Plank Grilled Salmon
1 2½-foot x 6-inch unfinished cedar plank (courtesy of Lowe’s Home Improvement)
2 cups white wine
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1½ tablespoons rice vinegar (buy from an Asian market, not the grocery store)
1 tablespoon dark toasted sesame seed oil (also from the Asian market)
½ teaspoon hot chili oil
1/3 cup light soy sauce
¼ cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (from the root)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2½ – 3-pound salmon fillet (one piece, head end is best–I got mine at Costco)
- Soak the cedar plank for at least an hour in room-temperature water and 2 cups white wine. Fully submerge the plank in the water; weight down if necessary.
- Mix together the vinegar, oils, soy sauce, chives, ginger, and garlic in a 1-gallon zipper-close bag. Roll the salmon fillet small enough to fit into the bag. Zip the bag, turn it over a few times to mix and coat the salmon, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, up to but no more than an hour.
- Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Place the plank on the grates. The plank is ready when it starts to smoke.
- Place the salmon fillet in the plank and discard the bag and marinade. Close the cover and grill for 20-25 minutes, until the fish is done (when you can flake it with a fork).
- Remove the salmon from the grill, cover loosely with foil for 5 minutes, then cut into serving-size portions and serve immediately.
You can make an extra half-batch of the marinade, set aside, and serve in small dipping bowls with the salmon. It is loaded with flavor.
If you want the Thai version of the Sesame Noodles, search on this site for that recipe, then add 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce to the sauce recipe, and julienne broccoli stems, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (Thai basil is best), and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro to the noodles before adding the sauce. It’s a nice change of pace, and will win raves.