Cedar Planked Salmon on the BBQ

Coming from Scandinavia I have been used to only one kind of salmon. Beautiful salmon, and it was simple to shop because you never had to choose between different kinds.

But here on the West Coast there is always the dilemma – a hard choice every time, between 5 different species of salmon: Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink and Chum (as well as the wonderful Steelhead salmon/trout) – all wonderful in different ways.

For this recipe I chose wild Sockeye – deep orange and with a beautiful taste, perfect for cooking on the cedar plank. Preparing salmon in this way is new to me as I have never seen it done this way before. But after trying it once, it has become a favourite. The taste, when it has been BBQed on the cedar plank, is just incredible – beyond comparison, and difficult to even describe in words.

 

Cedar planked salmon with tarragon and dill

one side of salmon

one bunch of fresh tarragon

one bunch of fresh dill

one shallot

1/2 cup of olive oil

freshly squeezed lemon

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak the cedar plank for several hours in water before use – I soak it all day to get it ready. Here on the West Coast where Cedar grows all over, it is easy to buy the planks – all ready for the salmon. They are split very thin (8mm – 5/16″) and if buying elsewhere make sure you get a natural plank that has not been treated with anything! A plank can be re-used several times.

Place the salmon on the plank and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Put it on the hot grill. Cook it half-way through before adding the marinade.

Finely chop the fresh tarragon, dill and shallot onion, put it in a bowl and add the olive oil, add sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Now pour the marinade on top of the salmon and continue cooking til the salmon is just done – make sure not to overcook it! (Check this by  gently pressing a finger on the thickest part of the salmon – it has to feel firm.) Depending on the thickness, it will be ready in about 15 -20 min .

I served the salmon with two favorite salads and just that – simple and delicious!  A Panzanella salad, a gorgeous salad with baked summer-ripe tomatoes and a green salad with celery leaves and pine nuts.

Panzanella salad

A fantastic flavorful salad and a perfect match to go with the fish.

6 sun ripe tomatoes

1/2 cucumber

1/2 small red onion

big bunch of Italian parsley

a good drizzle of olive oil

a sprinkle of good balsamic vinegar

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 slices of good but stale bread

Half the tomatoes and put them on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and bake them slowly for about an hour in a 350F oven, checking that they do not burn. Take them out and leave them to cool.

Half the cucumber and scrape out the middle, slice it and put it in a salad bowl. Add the cool tomatoes, wash and chop the parsley and add it to the bowl. Finely chop the red onion add it to the salad – drizzle with the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.

Put a few drops of garlic oil on the bread and grill them slightly on the BBQ or in the oven. Tear the bread into smaller pieces and toss it in the salad – mix well so the bread soaks up the flavors and the juices of the salad. Serve it with the fish.

Green salad with celery and pine nuts

Use different kinds of lettuce – a great mixture of your favorites.

A few stick of celery – preferably the middle of the celery with its leaves

2 spoons of pine nuts

dressing

This dressing is a classic that has been in my family forever – we use it, let me just say, a lot
The trick is to use the best ingredients – the better the ingredients the better the dressing.

2 spoons of good balsamic vinegar
a teaspoon of good Dijon Mustard
a pinch of sea salt

olive oil
one clove of freshly squeezed garlic

Mix this – then add a little olive oil while you constantly stir, add more olive oil while stirring – continue doing this till you have a thick, dark yummy dressing. You can add a little maple syrup for a sweetness if you like. This salad dressing is so good and so easy to make.

Wash and prepare the lettuce add them In a bowl. Chop the celery stick and leaves, add them to the salad, add the dressing and mix well – sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve with the fish.

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Summer salad from my own harvest!

Okay, today I’m going to brag. I, have grown my very first lettuce, ever! And then I made a delicious salad, with lettuce and herbs – right out of my very own garden. The lettuce in my high beds has finally grown so much that I can go out and “harvest”, exactly what I need for my salad. I am thrilled! I went out with my little wee basket and picked the lettuce we had for lunch!  Hey, it was an awesome feeling, really special!

The tomatoes I used are from the best greengrocer in the area. These local tomatoes are incredible, dark red and full of intense fragrance and taste.

Cut the tomatoes in half, add a slice of garlic on each half and a fresh leaf of basil, drizzled with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle on some sea salt and freshly-ground pepper. Bake them slowly for about an hour in a 300F hot oven. Take them out of the oven and let them cool before using. By baking them slowly you get  a really great intense flavor that the garlic and basil accents – making a memorial lunch experience.

To give the salad some body I used freshly cooked and cooled chick peas or you can use canned ones (1 can), drained and rinsed.

The dressing:

2 table spoons of good balsamic vinegar (don’t skimp on the quality – this is essential)

8 spoons of good olive oil (again – really good olive oil makes a great difference)

some sea salt

2 cloves of garlic

Mix together the balsamic vinegar with the olive oil, sea salt and freshly squeezed garlic – set it aside.

Cut a couple of slices of great bread, preferably slightly stale – cut them into cubes and fry them in a bit of olive oil – until very slightly golden. Turned off the heat and add some freshly squeezed garlic and some sea salt. Mix it around and set aside.

Rinse the lettuce and herbs carefully and put them on a clean cloth to drain excess water off.

Tear the lettuce and herbs into smaller pieces and put them in a salad bowl along with the chick peas, the baked tomatoes and the bread. Pour on the dressing and mix all well together, leave it to rest for a few minutes, so the salad and the bread soak up the dressing and absorb all the flavours. Arrange the salad on plates or in bowls and serve immediately.

Enjoy!