Monday, July 27, 2009

Ordinary Salmon Part I: Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

Salmon has become so popular it’s considered “common,” as in nothing special, boring, or ordinary. But I think most people, at least in the Northwest, would agree: Salmon is popular for good reason. Grilled, poached, cured, smoked, in eggs, in pasta, on a salad, on a plank, on a bagel. Lemon butter, dill sauce, ginger-soy, mustard sauce, no sauce. We just love it every which way.

Back when I was planning my wedding, salmon on a plank was a pretty new thing. I read about it in a magazine – a Native American method, that I’d never heard of before, for preparing this succulent fish. I requested it for our wedding dinner, and the caterers (hesitantly, I think) agreed to prepare it for us. They ended up baking it on a plank in the oven, rather than over a fire or on a grill, and though it was good, I’ve had better since, especially when we’ve made it ourselves at home.

My husband is the expert when it comes to making fish. He’s less likely to overcook it than I. So, I do the prep work and let him do the actual cooking. I like to serve it right on the plank for a sort of rustic presentation, and also to savor the smoky cedar smell. It really adds to the enjoyment.

I got this recipe off the packaging for some cedar planks a number of years ago. I still have the original cutout from the label. It’s got a faint aroma – kind of a garlicky campfire smell. The brand name has been cut off, or I’d give them credit for this recipe, which I love so much.

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon PRINTABLE RECIPE

1 untreated cedar plank – large enough for your salmon filet

1 to 1-1/2 Lb salmon filet
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 3 fresh lemons
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1. Submerge the plank in water and soak for at least one hour. After soaking, brush about 1-1/2 Tbsp olive oil onto the plank.

2. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to about 350°.

3. Brush the salmon filet with about 2 tsp olive oil and set it on the plank. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, parsley, and garlic.

5. Set the planked salmon on the preheated grill, and baste it with some of the marinade being careful not to contaminate the bowl of marinade.

6. Close the lid and cook until the fish is very nearly cooked through – time will vary depending on how hot your grill is and how thick the fish is, but the goal is to cook it slowly. Also remember, the fish will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill, so don’t overdo it. We usually end up with about 20 minutes of grill time.

7. Remove the planked salmon from the grill. Serve it on the plank or move it to a platter. Drizzle the remaining marinade over the fish and serve.

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