Fire Up the Grill
My daughter tells of a primal experience on the Copper River in Alaska. While casting nets from a small boat, the group snared a passing salmon, and later cooked and ate it on the riverbank.
By contrast, our Ozark farm pond has only carp, bass, catfish—and turtles. Such fish, including trout, are abundant in the area, but more exotic species, like salmon, I get from local fishmongers, frozen or thawed, and, preferably, on sale.
There’re many different way of preparing salmon, but I particularly enjoy the one that Cyndy and her husband, Joe, serve.
From Plank to Plate
Resting the fish atop a cedar plank in a covered grill imparts a smoky, woodsy flavor. The cooking boards are available in the grilling supply section of Dierbergs, Williams-Sonoma, Target, Home Depot, Lowes and local kitchen stores.
Cedar Plank Salmon
- Cedar grilling plank
- 3 1/2 lbs. good quality salmon
- Cracked pepper, to taste
- 4 tsp. smoked sea salt (for two 8-oz fillets, about 1 1/2-2 tsps.)
- 1 cup maple balsamic vinegar
- About 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Soak cedar grilling plank (or planks) for two hours in water. (Use a 3/8″ plank rather than the thicker ones.)
Put olive oil in a dish large enough to hold the salmon. Coat both sides of salmon with olive oil. Season the meat side of the fish with the cracked pepper and sea salt. Gently rub olive oil and seasoning into the salmon. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
Start grill and heat to 350 degrees. Add cedar plank(s) to grill rack. Close cover and heat 3 minutes, or so, and then flip the plank(s).
Add the seasoned and oiled salmon to the plank, skin side down. Close lid of grill and cook about 10 minutes. (There’s no need to turn fish.)
Meanwhile, combine balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. After 10 minutes, brush the salmon liberally with the vinegar-lemon mixture.
Close lid and cook until fish flakes easily with fork or until interior of fish reaches 135 degrees on a cooking thermometer. Cooking time will be about 15 minutes. If you have two filets—one thicker than the other—one will cook quicker.
Kitchen Notes: Check the salmon on occasion to ensure the plank isn’t flaming up. (The long soaking in water should prevent this.) Even so, you might want to keep a spray bottle filled with water to shoot out any flare-ups.