Jul 12, 2013
To help celebrate National Barbecue Day tomorrow (July 13), I'm sharing a couple of great planked salmon recipes, including one from the father of barbecue in Canada, the late, great David Veljacic.
Cedar-planked Salmon with Canadian Maple BBQ Sauce
Makes 6–8 servings
This is about as Canadian as you can get, barbecue-wise. For this recipe we’ve recommended Ronnie & Denzel’s new BBQ sauce, Canadian Maple, but you can substitute your favourite barbecue sauce – the sweeter and tangier, the better. Note: Wild BC sockeye and spring salmon are in season right now.
1 cedar cooking plank, soaked overnight or at least 2 hours
A spray bottle filled with water (in case of flare-ups)
1 whole, boned fillet of wild Pacific salmon, about 3 lb | 1.5 kg, skin on
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp | 5 mL granulated onion (or onion powder, if you can’t find granules)
½ cup Ronnie & Denzel’s NATURAL CHAMPIONS Canadian Maple BBQ Sauce (or your favourite sauce)
A head of green leaf lettuce
Lemon wedges and parsley sprigs for garnish
Season the skinless side of the salmon with salt, pepper, and granulated onion. Let the salmon sit for 10–15 minutes at room temperature, until the rub is moistened.
While the salmon is sitting, preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Season the plank with kosher salt and place the salmon, skin-side-down, on the plank.
Cover the grill and cook the salmon for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. When the salmon is nearly done, apply a light glaze of the barbecue sauce with a basting brush. Check it periodically to make sure the plank doesn’t catch fire, and spray the burning edges with water if it does, making sure to close the lid afterwards.
When the salmon is done, apply one more light coating of barbecue sauce and transfer the fish, plank and all, to a heatproof platter that you’ve artfully covered with lettuce leaves to make a kind of bed for the salmon and the plank. Garnish the salmon with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges and bring it to the table for your guests to enjoy.
The Fire Chef’s BBQ Salmon on a Plank
Makes 4–6 servings
The late David Veljacic was the father of barbecue in Canada, founding the Canadian National Barbecue Championship in New Westminster back in 1988. David was a firefighter, hence his nickname, “The Fire Chef.” He was diagnosed with cancer several years before he succumbed to it in 2001, and while on medical leave he wrote cookbooks and taught barbecue and grilling to a generation of backyard cooks. This is his most famous recipe, adapted for the plank.
For the marinade:
1/3 cup | 75 mL finely chopped parsley
3 Tbsp | 45 mL oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 Tbsp | 15 mL oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup | 75 mL extra virgin olive oil
For the salmon:
1 alder, cedar or hickory plank, soaked overnight
or at least 1 hour
one 21/2 lb | 1.2 kg boned salmon fillet,
1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt
1 head roasted garlic (see recipe below), cloves squeezed out of their skins
Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the fillet in a nonreactive dish (a lasagna pan would do). Pour the marinade over the fillet. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.
Score the salmon with 2 long slits along the length of the fillet. Don’t cut all the way through the fish. Mash the salt together with the roasted garlic and spread the mixture over the fillet and into the slits. Re-coat the fillet with the marinade after you’ve spread the garlic paste over it.
Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Place the salmon on the plank and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook it for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. Remove the plank and the salmon from the grill and serve it.
Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.
Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.