Friday, May 20, 2011

"Imperial" King Salmon

I often joke that, after a stressful day at work, I relieve that stress through cooking.  I also note that people can tell how stressed out I was at work based upon what I make.  The more stressful of a day, the fancier the dish.  Well, after a few stressful days a while back, I unleashed my creative energies to make a dish that I ended up calling "Imperial" King Salmon.

The Chinook Salmon, which is known as King Salmon, is the largest species of salmon.  It has a special place in the tradition of many Native American tribes.  It also has its place in the early history of the United States when the Lewis and Clark expedition described -- and ate -- this fish during their exploration of the Pacific Northwest.  

This magnificent fish is the centerpiece of a truly original and, in some respects, crazy recipe.  The recipe starts with one pound of King Salmon.  Add one pound of lump blue crab imperial.  Put it all on a cedar plank and grill it.  The end result is an amazingly decadent dish. The crazy part is actually executing the recipe.  While there are many recipes for Plank King Salmon, there are no recipes for Planked Crab Imperial.   And, there are many recipes for crab imperial, but most of them involve placing the crab mixture into little ramekins, topped with bread crumbs, and baked for length of a reality show (minus the commercials). I decided to be daring and combine two dishes into one -- Plank King Salmon and Crab Imperial -- to create a Chef Bolek original recipe. 

Hence, the name, "Imperial" King Salmon, which suggests the richness of the dish.  This dish also reigns over many of the dishes that I've made recently.  It is a more lavish dish, because both King Salmon and lump blue crab are a bit pricey.   However, the dish is also rich in flavor.  Grilling the salmon and the crab on the cedar plank infuses all of the ingredients with the cedar flavor.  Both Clare and I really enjoyed this dish.

A Chef Bolek Recipe
Serves 3-4

Ingredients (for the King Salmon):
1 to 1 1/4 pounds of King Salmon
1 pound of lump blue crab
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher Salt, to taste
Ground Pepper, to taste

Ingredients (for the Blue Crab Imperial):
1 pound of lump blue crab
1/4 large green pepper, diced finely
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 shallot, diced finely
2 tablespoons of mustard
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon of thyme

1.  Make the Crab Imperial.  Begin by making the Imperial.  Saute the green pepper in butter until translucent.  Transfer the green peppers to a bowl.  Add the crab in patches and mix.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add the mustard and mayonnaise, continuing to mix the ingredients.  Add the crushed red pepper and thyme.  Continue to mix the ingredients.

2.  Prepare to grill the salmon.  Preheat the grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Soak the cedar plank for an hour.  Remove the plank from the water and place the salmon on the plank.  Cover the salmon with the crab mixture.

3.  Grill the salmon.  Grill the salmon for about 20 to 25 minutes.  The Imperial will begin to brown around the edges, which is good.   Remove and let sit for five minutes.

When you are ready to plate the dish, simply use a serrated knife to cut through the crab and the salmon carefully.  Then use a spatula to plate the the "Imperial" King Salmon. As you can see from the picture below, the end result is a juicy piece of salmon covered with a crab mixture that has a lot of good ingredients besides the crab, such as cracked black pepper and green pepper. 

In the end, a little craziness on my part has resulted in a dish that may become one of my specialties, or, at the very least, a dish for special occasions. I definitely intend to make this dish again whenever I see King Salmon in the stores. 


For more about King Salmon or Chinook Salmon, check out Wikipedia

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