Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pepper-Honey Cedar Plank Salmon

    I haven't done much cooking since I've been back from Nicaragua and I felt the urge to try something new this weekend.  So I was excited when I saw a segment on the morning news which featured a local group of women who call themselves the Make-Ahead Mamas.  They get together every 8 weeks to make meals together in which they can take home to freeze and serve to their families later. 
    I turned the t.v. off fairly soon after the segment started, but looked them up online later and quickly added this salmon recipe to my weekend dinner menu.  The recipe comes from the website allrecipes.com and is a tried and family-tested recipe used by the Make-Ahead Momas.  We love salmon and although I mix up the marinades and flavors, I always cook it in the oven.  We have a bit of untreated cedar scraps laying around with the deck finished and the trellis almost complete, so I didn't have to look too far for those.  I have seen cedar planks at Fred Meyer near the deli if you don't happen to have some laying around.
    *Warning:  You WILL smell like a campfire after preparing this salmon...just in case you have plans after dinner.  Also, this salmon has a little "kick" to it, which we like, but if you are not a fan of spicy leave out the cayenne and/or some of the pepper.
    What You Need:
  • 2 (12-inch) untreated cedar planks (I used 3 "planks")
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 (6 oz) skinless, boneless salmon fillets
  • Salt and pepper to taste
What You Do:
  1. Soak the cedar planks in warm water for 1-2 hours.  Add a splash of bourbon to the water if desired.
  2. Bring the pineapple juice, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and honey to a simmer in a saucepan over med-high heat.  Reduce heat to med-low and stir in the sugar, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 15 minutes.  Set the sauce aside.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat.  Place the planks on the grate.  They are ready to cook on when they start to smoke and crackle just a little.
  4. Season the salmon with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Place the fillets onto the smoking cedar planks, close the lid of the grill, and cook for 10 minutes.  Spoon a small amount of the sauce over the salmon fillets, and continue cooking until the fish turns opaque in the center, about 5 minutes more.  Serve with the remaining sauce. 
The cedar soaked in the kitchen sink for a couple hours, turning a few times.

If the cedar catches fire, just blow it out or spray with water from a water bottle.

Matt ate two, and I ate one fillet.  I let the remaining 3 cool, placed them in a Ziploc bag, and then the freezer.  The remaining sauce also went into the freezer.  When I want to prepare, I'll thaw them in the refrigerator and then broil until heated through...I hope that works :)

Salmon Snippets:
  • A 4-ounce serving of salmon provides an entire day's recommended does of Vitamin D (something we've definitely been lacking in the Pacific Northwest this summer).
  • Salmon also has very high levels of niacin and B12.
  • Salmon is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids which do all kinds of good things for the body:  relieve inflammation, improved memory and focus, help alleviate symptoms of depression, beneficial in cardiovascular health, helps lower risk of stroke as much as 27% when consumed 1-2 times a week, reduces menstrual pain, and more. 
  • Farmed salmon may contain up to 10 times more contaminates (such as lead) than wild-caught salmon, and sometimes dye is added to improve the coloring. 

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