Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bow Down Before This QUEENLY Salmon!

Dear readers, I may not be rich in material possessions, but I am extremely wealthy when it comes to friendships. One of my favorite people on the planet is my colleague and friend, Chris Ford. Chris teaches computer science at my school, but he is a man of many talents, including kiteboarding, jump-roping (earning him an appearance on The Gong Show in his youth!), filmmaking, cooking, and fortunately for me, fishing! Last week, he brought in some extra-smoky salmon to work to share with me that he had caught and smoked himself. It was SO delicious--savory and salty, not unlike bacon. I used it on a wonderful entrĂ©e salad for dinner one night.

As if that weren't enough, Chris showed up at pub trivia at a bar in Peru, NY called Pasquale's where my team was playing Tuesday night, and hand-delivered the amusing cooler pictured below which contained fresh salmon (already cleaned and filleted!), a little baggie of wood-smoking chips, and two recipes. One was for the extra-smoky fish that I used on the salad, and the other was for a preparation called Kingly Salmon, from Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison.

So tonight, in perhaps the last firing of the R2D2 smoker unit for the season, I prepared a QUEENLY salmon that literally had my roommate and I groaning in pleasure as we ate it. It is CRAZY good! So now I am going to have to work out a bartering system, baked goods for salmon, while they are still running and Chris is still fishing. And I also want to try creating a stovetop smoker to do it inside during the colder months. (I will report back on that.)

If the salmon are running where you are (or even if you find some nice fillets from your local fishmonger), you MUST try this recipe! By the bye, I used only half of the recipe as written, and that was perfect for four fillets.
Kingly Salmon
(Source: Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison)

Pacific king salmon butterflied tail section (or use coho or silver salmon)
Alder wood for smoking

1/4 cup dill, dried
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh-ground black pepper
*I added 2 teaspoons granulated garlic, optional
Optional Mop:
Remaining rub
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup oil (canola or corn)

The night before you plan to barbecue, combine dill, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Open the salmon flat and massage it well with about 2/3 of the rub, reserving the rest of the mixture. Fold the salmon back into its original shape, place it in a plastic bag, and refrigerate it overnight.

Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 180 to 200 degrees F. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. If you plan to baste the fish, stir the remaining rub together with cider vinegar and oil in a small saucepan and warm the mixture over low heat.

Transfer the salmon to the smoker skin side down, placing the fish as far from the fire as possible. Cook for 50 to 60 minutes, mopping it after 10 and 30 minutes in a wood-burning pit, or as appropriate for your style of smoker. The salmon should flake easily when done. Have a large spatula and a platter ready when taking the salmon off the smoker, because it can fall apart easily. Serve hot or chilled.

BBQ Tips:
Alder remains the best wood for smoking Pacific salmon. Alder chips are fairly common across the country, but you may have more difficulty finding the wood in chunks or logs. Fruit woods are the best substitute, particularly when mixed with smaller pieces of alder.

Yield: 8 servings

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