Sunday, September 25, 2016

Blackened Planked Salmon

If someone were to ask, "what is your favorite way to prepare salmon," then I would probably answer grilling it on a cedar plank.  The use of wood planks to grill food goes back a very, very long time, originating with the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest.  Women would then tack the salmon to long slabs of wood, usually alder or cedar, or they would tie the fish to the planks using vines.  Those wooden slabs were then placed over a fire and the salmon was allowed to cook slowly, absorbing the flavors of the wood and smoke.

That traditional practice may still be performed in some Native Americans in the northwest; however, in my case, the use of planks involves a cookie-cutter piece of cedar wood that gets soaked in water for more than an hour, fitted with a piece of salmon  and then placed on top of a fire or in a grill.  After about fifteen minutes or so, the plank is removed from the fire, the fish is removed from the plank and dinner is served.  The whole process seems far less idyllic than the process used by Native Americans.

Indeed, I am no stranger to using cedar planks.  I've made several salmon dishes in this manner.   I've made a traditional plank salmon (well, as traditional as traditional can get).  I've also made something fancier with planks and salmon, namely, the Imperial Salmon, a plank salmon with a crab imperial.   However, this time, I was looking for a different way to make planked salmon.  It got me to thinking and it did not take me long to think of something new.

As much as I am a fan of using smoke to impart flavors into meats, I am also a fan of blackening spices.  This recipe combines both ... blackened planked salmon.  It is a bayou meets the northwest thing, a combination of two sets of regional flavors that works in many different, but delicious ways.  To put it simply, it is the right combination of spice and smoke that can appeal to someone who, like myself, loves barbecue.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 2

Ingredients (for the salmon):
2 six ounce fillets of salmon
1 cedar plank

Ingredients (for the blackening spice mix):
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Prepare the spice mix.  In a bowl, mix all of the spice mix Generously rub the mixture on both sides of the salmon.  Cover the fish and let rest for one half hour.

2.  Prepare the salmon for the grill.  Preheat a grill on medium.  Brush the cedar plank on both sides with three tablespoons of oil.  Place the salmon on the plank and cover evenly with the onion slices.  The onions do not just add flavor, they protect the fish from burning while it cooks. So make sure that the onions cover both the tops and the sides of the fish.  Drizzle some oil over the onions.

3.  Grill the salmon. The grill should be hot enough to ignite the plank when you place the plank in the grill.  Let the plank burn around the fish.  Once the plank has burned, cover the grill.  Continue to grill the salmon until medium rare, or 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which should take about ten minutes. 


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