Planked Salmon with Savory and Cranberry Crust
Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest developed their own unique method of cooking the fish, seafood, and shellfish that teemed in their oceans and rivers. Salvaging water-soaked driftwood pieces of Western cedar, maple, or oak, they used these slabs to hold salmon, crab, or other seafood—perhaps wrapped in kelp or dulse—over a smoldering fire, letting the smoke and the aromatic woods mingle with oils and juices to impart a flavor like no other.
• 1 cedar plank, soaked for 6 hours or more (See “Smoking and Plank Grilling” on page 32)
• 4 fillets salmon, skin on one side
• Sea salt (1 to 2 tablespoons per fillet)
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons minced onion
• 1 cup orange juice
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
• 3 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh summer savory
1. Preheat the grill to high.
2. Season the salmon fillets with the sea salt, cover, and keep at room temperature until the other ingredients have been prepared. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, and sweat the onion over low heat until very soft—about 10 minutes.
3. Add the orange juice, increase heat, and bring to a boil. Stir in the cranberries and maple syrup, reduce heat, and simmer gently, until the cranberries are plump and the liquid is reduced, about 20 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, cool, and stir in the savory.
5. Rub the soaked plank with sea salt, place it on the preheated grill, close the lid, and heat for 3 to 5 minutes. The plank should crackle and smoke.
6. Without removing the plank from the grill, place the salmon fillets directly on the plank, skin side up; close the grill’s lid and cook for 5 minutes.
7. Divide the cranberry mixture into four portions.
8. Working quickly, carefully open the grill lid; turn the fillets over and pat the cranberry mixture over the top of them.
9. Close the lid and continue to bake the salmon for another 8 to 12 minutes, or until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
Click here for the main article, Fire and Smoke.
Pat Crocker, home economist and culinary herbalist, photographs, lectures, and writes about food and herbs. Author of three cookbooks, including The Healing Herbs Cookbook (Robert Rose, 1999) and The Juicing Bible (Robert Rose, 2000), Pat enjoys grilling with her family every summer.