Cedar Plank Salmon with Rosemary and Smoked Salt

Friday, September 14, 2012

Here in the Pacific Northwest you must know how to work with two ingredients in particular: oysters and salmon. I'm spoiled here, as I get a ridiculous array of various kinds of both farm and wild salmon throughout the season, from Coho to King freshly caught in Alaska, to locally raised to even white salmon. At my local farmers markets I see at least one vendor selling his or her brand of smoked salmon. At Pike Market there is an entire store dedicated to smoked fish. In short, there's a shitload of ways to work with this most preferred fish.

Why salmon? Why not! It's low in fat, high in omega 3 oils (think Brain Food), and incredibly tasty. It can have a mild to strong fish taste, depending on if you're getting fresh or wild or what variety you choose, and it's a very easy fish to work with, yielding itself to a variety of cooking techniques from pan fry to grill, even poached and smoked.

But probably my favorite way to prepare salmon is with cedar plank.

Cedar wood (untreated!) is used as a barrier between fish and grill to create a slow-cooking process by which the heat from the coals can "activate" the flavor in the wood, and thus infuse whatever is cooking on top of it. This infusion adds incredible aroma to the food as well as a deep, earthy smoky flavor that is delicate enough to not overpower the food; just enhances it. It's wonderful! I've successfully used cedar to also cook burgers! Check out my recipe for Pacific Northwest Burger in the cookbook, inspired 100% by my new found home's local ingredients and cooking techniques!

But back to salmon.

A great way to make salmon is simply cedar plank and grill. I go simple but earthy with flavors here adding smoked salt as opposed to the usual, grains of paradise instead of black pepper, and some fresh rosemary leaves on top. This combination is amazing, between the sweet smokiness of the salt to the cardamom-flavored grains of paradise, it for sure is unlike any salmon recipe you've had in a long, long time.

Keep the garnish simple too -- a salad lightly dressed with olive oil, maybe some quinoa or wild rice would be outstanding. If you're looking for a new way to cook salmon, new flavors profiles, then this is your recipe! Enjoy!

Cedar Plank Salmon with Rosemary and Smoked Salt
1 large cedar plank, soaked in water overnight (or at least 4 hours)
1 side of salmon, skin on and bones removed
smoked salt
grains of paradise, finely ground  (can substitute with a combination 2:1 of black pepper to cardamom)
sprigs of fresh rosemary

Pat dry the cedar plank and set aside. Preheat your grill to medium low.

Place the salmon skin side down on the cedar plank. If using smaller planks, then cut the salmon up into pieces to fit on each piece of wood. Season with salt and grains of paradise (or pepper) to taste. Have a light hand, however -- the smoked salt can be overpowering as well as the gop. Top with the sprigs of rosemary -- if breaking it up into pieces, then 1 sprig per piece. Place on grill and cook with lid down until cooked through, about 10 minutes for medium-well, depending on the thickness of your fish. If you want the fish cooked through more, keep longer. Remove and serve right on the plank or transfer off and onto plates.

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