It is the May 2-4 weekend in Canada (Victoria Day) which means barbecue season has officially begun! Even though I do not yet have a barbecue (sigh) I can pretend like I do. One thing I love about barbecue season is cooking with wood and wood chips. It is like a magical earthy foodie art that I just want to learn all about! So I went out and bought a set of food-safe cedar planks and made my version of Johnny Garlic’s Cedar Plank Salmon.
I will be honest, I was not sure I was going to like it so instead of cooking two salmon fillets (thanks to my foodie friends on my Facebook page) I decided to put one in a Ziploc bag with olive oil and garlic and freeze it. If I liked this recipe, I would make it again very soon. If not, I would try something else. Regardless, salmon is not cheap and I hate wasting food. In the freezer it went!
The glaze was really unusual but would mean either it was genius or madness. Considering this recipe was on Guy’s Big Bite I did have the confidence to give it a shot, he loves bold flavours and so do I! Thankfully I read the comments which gave warnings about the crazy high heat level in the glaze so I toned it down a lot.
I sauteed four seedless and ribless rings of jalapeño until they just start to brown. Then I added two minced garlic cloves for just a few seconds, followed by a quarter cup of white wine. I did not have whole grain mustard so I added 1 tbsp of dijon mustard and around 1/2 cup of apricot jam. I know, weird!
I brought it to a simmer and then let it gently simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Then I let it cool completely. I soaked the plank in water for 15 minutes to prepare it for the oven.
I put a piece of parchment paper on top of the plank, placed the salmon on top of the paper and season with salt and pepper. Then I slathered on the glaze and baked in a preheated 400F oven (or barbecue if you have one) for 13 minutes. I like my fish well done.
I did chicken out of making this salmon Fieri-style. He does not soak the plank, in fact he puts it right on the gas burner until it smokes and then puts it in the oven, smoking. I was nervous about the flavours already and had never done this style of cooking before so I stayed traditional for my first attempt.
The results? Delicious! I mean, really yummy. Now I am not a big fish fan, (although I love the movie, LOL) and salmon can be quite oily and strong smelling but with the glaze, all of that does not seem to matter. The sweetness from the apricots balance really well with the gentle heat of the jalapeño and the savory kick of the garlic and mustard. Shocking! Could I tell it was made on a cedar plank though? No, not really.
Now if you love the pure taste of salmon, just go out and cook it with some olive oil and salt and pepper. For me, these flavours were complex and fabulous, just the way I like my food. Now that I trust the recipe, I think I will make this again with the smoking cedar plank technique. Fire alarms be damned!