I wasn’t in the market for it. I was actually at the store to buy a steak. But there it was….ruby red, fresh, beautiful, and only available about one month a year; Copper River Salmon.
I love Copper River Salmon! The Copper River is long and cold, flowing through almost 300 miles of Alaska. The water is clear and the current is strong, with lots of rocks and rapids. The sockeye who swim the length are healthy, hardy, and have a relatively high fat content. These qualities give the fish a rich, clean, and robust flavor. Copper River salmon also contain a high level of those healthy Omea-3 oils that we are hearing so much about lately.
So, I had my fish and there was no doubt how I would cook it. My favorite way to cook almost any seafood is on the barbeque, on a wood plank. Seafood cooked on a plank stays moist and tender and is gently infused with smoky wood flavor. Cedar planks are available in the barbecue section of some grocery stores, hardware stores, or warehouse stores.
Here’s my method for plank roasted salmon:
Place your cedar plank in a shallow baking dish and cover with water. Soak the plank for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
To feed 4, you’ll need about a 1 ½ pound salmon fillet. Remove the pin bones from the salmon by running your fingers down the length of the fillet. You’ll feel little “nubs”, the pin bones, just under the center fat line of the fish. Use a stainless steel tweezer to remove the bones. Grab the end with the tweezer and pull, with - not against, the grain of the fish. The pin bones should pull right out.
Set your barbeque for indirect heat and preheat to medium-high or about 400 degrees. Use a very sharp knife to cut the fish into 4 even steaks. Leave the skin on and arrange the steaks on the soaked plank. Brush the fish with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the plank on the indirect side of the hot grill and close the lid. Cook the fish until it is cooked to your liking, about 20 to 25 minutes. An internal temperature of about 135 degrees is just about right. At this temperature, the fish is cooked through and just flakes easily. (I live in the Seattle area and we tend to like our salmon a little bit on the rare side, so I cook mine to 125 degrees.) Remove the plank from the grill and slide a spatula between the fish and the skin to serve.
My Copper River salmon was delicious! The fish was slightly smoky with a faint cedar flavor. I served it with cherry tomato salsa on top and a garlicky fresh oregano aioli sauce. Some grilled asparagus and lemon rice were the perfect sides.
Of course, if Copper River is not available in your area, you can plank roast any type of salmon. The smoky flavor of the charred plank perfectly complements the fish - and lots of other preparations too! Try planked halibut, chicken, or even vegetables. Almost anything cooked this way will be delicious – I promise.