Jul 18, 2014
Alder-Planked Wild Salmon with Avocado Mayo
Here in beautiful British Columbia, it’s wild salmon season and one of the best ways to cook it is on a plank. I like alder because it’s the wood that’s been used for millennia by First Nations peoples, and it adds a super delish smoky flavour, but if you can’t find alder planks, good old cedar will do just fine.
Serves 4 to 6
1 alder or 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
For the rub:
1 tsp | 5 mL ground coriander
1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Hungarian paprika
½ tsp | 3 mL ground turmeric
½ tsp | 3 mL granulated garlic
½ tsp | 3 mL granulated onion
1 Tbsp | 15 mL Kosher salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
Vegetable oil like canola or corn oil
For the mayo:
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup | 125 mL mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s)
1 tsp ground Ancho chile or your favorite chili powder blend
pinch of cayenne
1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh lemon or lime juice
Kosher salt to taste
Leaf lettuce, fresh cilantro sprgs and lemon wedges for garnish
Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed and peel, and coarsely chop the flesh. Make the mayo by combining the avocado, mayo, chile powder, cayenne and citrus juice and blending them in a food processor until creamy smooth, adding salt to your taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate.
Combine the rub ingredients. Season the skinless side of the salmon with a light coating of the rub. 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. Place the salmon, skin-side-down, on the plank.
Cover the grill and cook the salmon for 8 - 12 minutes, or until the thickest part of the fish has a maximum internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C, lower if you like your salmon medium rare. 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 transfer it, 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 lemon wedges and cilantro sprigs and bring it to the table for your guests to enjoy. I like to serve this dish with Coriander Buttered Corn and Grilled Curried Zucchini planks. (See recipes below.)
Coriander Buttered Corn on the Cob
This delicious compound butter is great on grilled corn but also excellent as a finishing touch to grilled fish or meat, or frozen and stuffed into a burger. Double or even quadruple the recipe, place the leftover butter on a sheet of wax paper or clear food wrap and roll it into a 2-inch wide log. Store the log in your freezer and cut off pats of butter when you need them.
Makes enough butter for at least four cobs of corn
4 to 6 cobs of fresh corn on the cob, husks removed
For the butter:
1/2 cup | 125 mL butter
¼ cup | 60 mL coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp | 3 mL ground coriander
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp | 5 mL lemon zest (finely grated lemon peel)
pinch Kosher salt
Combine the butter, cilantro, coriander, cayenne, lemon zest and salt in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare your grill for direct high heat cooking. Place the naked corn cobs on the cooking grate, cover, and cook, turning regularly, until the corn is bright yellow and has mouth-watering char marks. Remove from the grill and serve with the compound butter.
Grilled Curried Zucchini Planks
This simple recipe produces a tasty, brightly colored side dish that goes well with almost anything.
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
2 firm, fresh medium-size zucchinis
freshly ground black pepper
Trim the tops and bottoms from the zucchinis and, working carefully with a sharp knife, cut a thin slice off each side. Discard the thin slices or cut them up and put them in a salad. Slice the zuccinis into long ¼-inch planks. Sprinkle them on both sides with a light coating of salt, pepper and curry powder. Drizzle them with olive oil, turning to coat.
Prepare your grill for direct medium-high cooking. Place the zucchini planks on the grill and cook them for just half a minute per side, or until they are nicely charred but still firm. Remove from the grill, place them on a serving platter, drizzle with a little more oil, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on them and serve.