Pacific Northwest Style Salmon

Friday, July 2, 2010

I love salmon. It's funny because I had never had it until I met Andrew and had it on our first date. Salmon and oysters. Both first times. I digress...

Since moving up to Seattle I've been privy to some seriously FOB salmon (fresh off the boat). It's a great fish, ready-available, difficult to screw up, and can take on a lot of different flavor profiles. I've done it Asian-style with a fabulous miso glaze (one of my favorite ways), and with a garlic-panko crust (also delicious), but honestly my favorite way is to prepare it with a simple rub.

A pantry staple in my house is Potlatch seasoning.

It's a combination of herbs, including paprika, chile powder, salt, oregano, red pepper and dried basil among others. It incorporates most of the herbs used by Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest for their potlatchs, or "feasts." They would roast whole sides of salmon seasoned with this spice blend, vertically, over an open fire. The combination of herbs are wonderful on other meats as well, but it truly is amazing on a fresh piece of salmon.
I add a trick I learned from my friend Carol recently, a Seattle native, on how to prepare an authentic Washington-style salmon. Just a couple of small pinches of brown sugar to balance out the spices in the potlatch is just wonderful. To bring it up even further on the flavor profile, try roasting your salmon on a cedar plank for an amazing smell and smoky taste. But if you don't have the cedar, you can make this just as easily without it in your oven or on your grill.
Pacific Northwest Style Grilled Salmon
1 large salmon side, skin on
potlatch seasoning
1 Tbsp brown sugar
freshly ground black pepper
super-fine sea salt (or kosher)
cedar planks (optional)
If using cedar planks, submerge in water for at least 3 hours or overnight to prevent burning.
Wash and pat very dry your salmon fillet. Cut the fillet in smaller portions to fit your cedar planks if using; if not, leave whole. Season with the potlatch, brown sugar, pepper and salt to taste, going a little heavier on the thicker side of the salmon. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.
Preheat grill (or oven to 350 degrees). Place salmon on cedar planks and place directly on bbq grill. Conversely, if baking, just place salmon on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet large enough to accommodate your salmon. Grill (or bake) until salmon is cooked through, 20-30 minutes. If using a cedar plank note cooking time will take longer; if not cooking time will be on the shorter end since the salmon is getting direct heat. If baking, usually 20-25 minutes is good depending on the thickness of your salmon.
Let stand 2 minutes before serving.

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