I’m not a cook. I do not think about the endless possibilities of flavors and taste combinations. I am fine ordering the exact same thing at the exact same restaurant for forever. At home, when I’m by myself, my meals usually consist of sandwiches. The extent of my culinary experimentation ends with whether or not to have raspberry or strawberry jam on my sandwiches. Or sometimes, to be adventurous, I add oatmeal to my chocolate chip cookies. I know, I’m walking on the wild side!
Rachael, my roommate, on the other hand is enamored by food. She is all about tweaking this recipe or that. She delves into the culinary world with wild abandon. Make up your own dressing? Why not? Do something with chicken other than baking it into a casserole? Of course! This creates both tension and delight in our house. On the one hand I don’t always eat sandwiches, on the other hand I am sometimes forced to try new foods, which can both delight and dismay me.
This week we threw caution to the wind and decided to have salmon one night for dinner, and not just any salmon…we attempted cedar grilled salmon.
Here’s the run down. Several months back Costco decided to sell a few pallets of cedar planks for grilling. Rachael eyed the stacks and said she’d like to try it, but for whatever reason we passed on the planks. I mean grilling salmon on cedar boards…really? But then they were everywhere. Brooke bought some at Home Depot with her new little Weber grill. And Rachael found some cheap at Harmons. So then there were boards.
Last night we followed the directions: soak planks for at least 30 minutes before cooking. We submerged the boards under water and weighted them with a can of pineapple tidbits. While the boards soaked, Rachael made up some cilantro/citrus/something-or-other marinade and dropped in some salmon. We had wild caught Alaskan salmon from Costco so that’s what we used. It had scales on one side. When we finally boarded the fish the scales went down on the board. Then the salmon fillets were topped with orange slices.
As Rachael tended to those details I pre-heated the grill to med/high, and then filled a spray bottle with water to “put down flames.” When everything was ready to go we put the salmon topped boards onto the grill to cook for 10 minutes.
The first few minutes were great. Because the cedar plank was soaked it gave off a lovely aroma and refrained from catching fire. Then it dried out and began to catch with flames curling out around the edges. These flames were best put out with a combination of spraying them with the squirt bottle and using tongs to drag the board across the grill. 10 or so minutes later the fish was flakey and the board was spent.
It smelled amazing. The burning cedar was so fragrant and sweet but peppery. Back inside the house, we scraped the fillets off the board and served them up with wild rice and a fresh cut green salad, complete with home grown tomatoes.
The verdict? The fish was wonderful. It was very moist and not overpowering. The cedar was enough to offer a bit of a nutty flavor, but not so overpowering that it tasted like gnawing on toothpicks. This meal earns a stamp of approval and if our house were a restaurant I think I might start ordering this every night. Oh, and it was easy. It sounds all complicated and gourmet, but it was simple.
So Rachael and the foodies of the world win a point. If you’re a bit more adventurous than I am, or want to really walk on the wild side, I’d recommend grilling up some salmon on a cedar plank. Even if the meal doesn’t seem dangerous the flames are fun.