A trip to the Pacific Northwest inspired this dish. It’s hard to ignore the glistening salmon, the allure of the sea and the moist forest scents of cedar. The forests and rivers provided the ingredients for this dish, common to the Native American cultures of the Salish Sea. Here it’s fused with ginger from the east captured in English inspired preserves. Most grocers sell ginger preserves, and it’s available through mail order.
The rich oils of wild salmon are excellent for absorbing flavors, and the aromatic wood pairs well with the tangy sweetness of the ginger and lemon. The slow caramelizing with sweet onion enhances the anise flavor of fresh fennel. The apple cider syrup napping the vegetables compliments the ginger glaze on the fish.
Cedar planks for cooking are available from kitchen supply stores, upscale grocers and by mail order. Never use cedar that has been treated for construction. Follow the instructions for soaking the cedar plank before proceeding with cooking.
Ginger Glazed Cedar Planked Salmon & Cider Glazed Caramelized Fennel
Ingredients for the cedar plank:
- 1 cedar plank
- 3 to 4 cups apple cider (water or wine may be substituted).
Two hours before grilling, place the cedar plank in a roasting pan large enough to fit.
- Pour the apple cider over the plank and soak, turning once. Soak for two hours.
Ingredients for the fennel and sweet onion:
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 medium sweet onion
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup simmering water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut stalks off fennel bulb. Remove and reserve fronds, discard the stalks. Slice bulb into 4 to 6 slices.
- Peel and slice the onion into 4 to 6 slices.
- Melt the butter in a 12-inch sauté pan, or one large enough to fit the fennel and onions in a single layer.
- Arrange the fennel and onions on top of the melted butter.
- Add the simmering water and cover. Reduce heat and gently steam for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and cook an additional 15 minutes allowing the water to evaporate and the vegetables to lightly brown. Turn at least once.
Ingredients for the salmon
- 1 pound wild caught salmon fillet, ideally with the skin on
- olive oil to coat
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 4 to 5 tablespoons ginger preserves
- Heat a gas or charcoal grill to about 350ºF or a medium heat-setting.
- Remove the plank from the apple cider and place it on a baking sheet. Reserve the apple cider for the fennel glaze.
- Place the salmon fillet, skin side down, onto the plank. Lightly coat the top of the salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Mix the lemon juice and zest into the ginger preserves and spoon over the salmon.
- Place the cedar plank on the grill and cover the grill. Cook for 12 to 18 minutes. The salmon is done when it is uniformly pink in the center.
Preparation for the fennel’s cider glaze:
While salmon is grilling, pour the reserved apple cider into a sauce pan and reduce over high heat until it’s a light syrup, about a 75 percent reduction.
Plate the salmon and fennel:
- When the salmon’s cooked, remove the plank to a cutting board. Slice the fillet into three portions and, using a thin spatula, separate the skin from the fillet.
- Arrange on plates with the fennel and onion. Drizzle the apple cider syrup over the fennel and decorate the dish with chopped fennel fronds.
Usually cedar planks can be re-used once or twice until they become overly charred, cracked or impossible to clean. Clean under hot running water – do not use detergent – scrubbing off the skin and loose ash. Allow to dry on a rack and store with the grill.
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