One of the sure signs of spring is when Copper River salmon starts showing up in our local markets. Only available mid-May through mid-June, this is some of the richest, tastiest salmon out there.
I almost always take a pretty simple approach and just grill the salmon on a cedar or alder plank. Smoke from the plank deepens the rich, nutty flavor of the fish while protecting it from the flames so you can use higher temperatures to seal in the juices.
Use a food-grade plank that’s been soaked in water for at least an hour. Set your grill up for direct cooking at medium-high heat (about 450°F).
Oil the skin side of the salmon and season both sides with a little sea salt and maybe a grind or two of black pepper.
Put the plank on the grill by itself for about 5 minutes, or until you see the first wisps of smoke coming from the board. Flip the plank over and put the salmon on skin side down on the hot side of the plank.
Close the lid on the grill and cook for 10-15 minutes. I like salmon when it’s a juicy medium rare, so take the fillet off when it starts to flake, but is still a little translucent red inside – about 130°F internal. 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.
I served it hot off the grill with a squeeze of lemon and a side of fresh peas and new potatoes.