Cedar Plank Salmon

A side of Copper River Sockeye Salmon on a cedar plank with lemon slices and seasoned waiting for the grill to be warmed up.

We were back in Seattle this past week to celebrate our 10th Anniversary though we enjoyed a lot of local seafood, I didn’t do much cooking so this weeks post will be pretty brief. One of the many things Seattle is known for is seafood (and rain and yes it really does rain there a lot. Just not so much in the summer) and specifically, amazing salmon.  There are several species native to the rivers of the PNW and Alaska and this time of year, its easy to come by (if you’re in the PNW) and economical because it is in season. Elsewhere frozen may be the way to go. Sprouts carries some nice options for wild ethically caught frozen fish. I was able to pick up a side of fresh, wild caught Alaskan salmon from my local Von’s/Pavilions for about $18 per lbs. a few days ago.

You can use gas, charcoal or electric grill for this and cedar planks are available in the grilling section of hardware stores or online. Just soak the planks in water for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. Preheat you grill if using gas or electric, or get you coals to white hot. If using charcoal, move the coals to one side of the grill  or gas/electric turn off one set of burners to create an indirect heat zone. Remove excess water from the cedar plank, and line with slices of lemons. Lay the salmon onto the lemon slices and remove pin bones. You can also ask your fish monger to do this for you. Lightly dust with the spice rub. Place the cedar plank on the indirect zone on the grill and cook until the fish turns a light opaque pink, this will take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the filets. Enjoy!

Spice Rub

  • 3 parts brown sugar
  • 1 part ground black pepper
  • 1 part garlic powder
  • 1 part ground mustard seeds
  • ½ part cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part ground paprika

Mix everything in a large bowl until combined. I like to place mine in an old spice shaker. It makes for easier application and reduces cross contamination.

 

Dinner in 30 minutes or less…..

Mahi-Mahi Piccata with Bucatini

If your family is anything like mine with everyone on crazy schedules and such sometimes getting a meal on the table in a timely fashion is a struggle. In fact when this blog originally started way back in 2013 the focus was on quick and easy meals for a busy family. Though we’ve deviated away from that concept over the years, the struggle to get a meal on the table before 9PM is still very real in my house. That’s where this mahi-mahi piccata recipe comes in. So long as the fish or chicken is defrosted (or fresh) before cooking you can have all the prep done and dinner plated and served in 30 minutes. In the case of mahi-mahi, all the prep and cooking and the cooking of the fish is done while the pasta cooks.

Recipe (serves 4)

4 4oz mahi-mahi fillets

4 TBS butter

1 TBS olive oil

2 TBS chopped parsley

1 box bucatini

3 cloves of garlic crushed

¼ cup white wine

1 TBS capers

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 TBS flour for dusting on the fish

salt and pepper to taste

red chili flakes (optional)

In a large pot with a lid, bring 8 qts of heavily salted water to a boil. The water should taste like salt water.  While the water is coming to the boil, zest and juice the lemon, crush the garlic, chop the parsley and dry the fish fillets with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper and set aside. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions for al dente typically 8-10 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat 2 TBS of butter and the olive oil until foaming. Dust the fish on each side lightly with flour and shake off the excess. Place fish into the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side. This take about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and set aside on paper towel to drain.

Add the capers, garlic, lemon juice, zest and white wine to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low. Let the sauce will boil and slowly reduce. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Adjust the heat to low until the pasta is ready to drain. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and  drain the pasta and set aside.  Add the remaining butter to the sauce and return the fish to the skillet. Add the drained pasta and toss until the fish and pasta is coated with the sauce. If the pasta is a little dry you can add a little of the pasta water. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon slices.

 

 

Salad Days (some assembly required)

boiled eggs, olive, fingerling potatoes, green beans, shallots, tuna and tomatoes make up this salad

Its another hot one here in Southern California, which puts me in the mood for some lighter food and given the richness of last weeks duck tacos a few salad days might do me some good. Keeping with the Mediterranean theme that was discussed a few posts back, Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna seemed like a good way to make use of some of the freshly ripened tomatoes from our garden and produce that we’ve received this past week from Imperfect Produce. My local Sprouts has a decent selection of frozen sustainably caught fish and we try to keep some tuna and salmon in the freezer for leaner, lighter protein options.

Salad Niçois is a composed salad with greens, olives (usually Niçois), scallions, tomatoes and boiled eggs with either anchovies or tuna and dressed with olive oil. Sometime back in the 30s recipes started to appear for Salad Niçois with boiled potatoes and green beans. Which I’ve added to my version as well.  Putting the salad together involved a little bit of chopping, making the vinaigrette and searing the tuna. I used some leftover fried fingerling potatoes and then boiled eggs for about 6 minutes. During the last few minutes of the eggs boiling, I tossed in some chopped green beans along with a teaspoon of salt to blanch. Then I drained the eggs and green beans and put them into ice cold water to stop the cooking. After a few minutes, I drained the water and added more cold water.

Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna 

(serves 2)

6 cups cleaned and chopped greens ( we had hearts of romaine so that’s what I used)

2 scallions chopped

1 cup sliced and cooked fingerling potatoes

⅓ cup olives

2 tomatoes cut into quarters

2 boiled eggs

½ cup cooked chopped green beans

2 4-6 oz tuna steaks

salt and pepper

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dried oregano

1 TBS olive oil

lemon juice

4 TBS Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

To start, put the garlic clove, salt and pepper, oregano and lemon juice into a mortar and pestle and crush together until a paste forms.  Put into a  zip top freezer bag and then add the olive oil. Place the tuna steaks into the bag and rub with the marinade until all sides of the tuna are coved and set aside.  Lightly dress the tomatoes, green beans and potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette and let sit while you sear off the tuna. Using a dry non stick skillet on medium high (or on the grill if you have a wire grilling basket), sear the tuna. Don’t try to move the tuna around, when its sufficiently seared it should easily come off the pan to flip on a gas flame this is usually after about 2 minutes. Sear the other. side for about a minute if you prefer your tuna medium rare. Remove from heat and let rest on a cutting board. Assemble the salad either on individual plates or in a large bowl and dress the greens with the remaining dressing. Slice the tuna and add to the salad and serve.

 

Vinaigrette 

1 part cider vinegar

2 parts extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

Juice of ½ a lemon

½ tsp anchovy paste or 1 anchovy filet

1 crushed garlic clove

1 tsp mayonaise

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp peppercorns

½ tsp dried oregano

In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic, oregano and salt together until a past forms. Then move to a small bowl and whisk with all the other ingredients until everything is well combined.