The Alaskan salmon season has begun and wild salmon are finally hitting our seafood cases! For those of you who don’t live for this springtime treat, these babies are the crème de la crème of salmon. Because some of these salmon swim 300 miles upstream to spawn (up the Copper River, in this case), these guys really chow down before the trip, packing on lots of fat in preparation. Since fat = flavor, pre-spawn salmon are very tasty – with a juicy, rich, almost nutty-tasting flesh that demands a pretty simple cooking technique.
I almost always go the traditional route and cook salmon on a wooden plank. Planking lets the smoke from the wood deepen the flavor while letting me use higher temperatures to seal and crisp the salmon.
For this monster fillet, I used two food-grade maple planks from Superior Planks. These planks are nice and thick and cut from sustainably harvested trees, so win-win.
I set up the Big Green Egg for a direct cook at medium-high heat (about 400°F). To prep the filet, I lightly oiled the skin side and seasoned both sides with a little ground sea salt. I topped the filet with some thinly sliced lemon, but I didn’t want to do much futzing that might hide the salmon’s flavor.
I would normally put the plank on the grill by itself for about 5 minutes, or until wisps of smoke start coming from the board, then flip the plank over and put the salmon on skin side down on the warmed side. But with having to use two planks. I just set everything up on a cookie sheet and slid the whole works onto the grill grate.
I closed the lid on the grill and let it cook for 10 minutes. I then checked it every 5 minutes until the flesh started to flake, but was still slightly translucent red inside. Remember that the fish will continue to cook a little once it’s off the heat, so you want it to be slightly underdone when you take it off. The total cooking time on this filet ended up being 20 minutes.
I let it rest 5 minutes and served it with a nutty quinoa salad (recipe coming soon).
I LOVE salmon like this. It’s hard to go wrong with fresh, high-quality ingredients prepared simply. The lemon baked into the fish and left a nice fresh tang. The only thing I’d change is slicing the lemon even thinner.
A 6-ounce cooked filet is 270 calories and 7 Weight Watchers points, but salmon is a superfood, loaded with healthy fats, so pair it with something green and you’re in business.
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