Barbecue Bible!

Our textbook
Season 2

Show 204: Go Fish

Steven showcases seafood recipes from the around the globe. He starts with planked salmon, a slow-roasted salmon recipe popular in the Pacific Northwest; he then grills prawns with a spicy, yogurt-based Tandoori marinade. He follows with a coconut milk-based recipe for tuna steaks he learned in Brazil with a French-inspired sauce vierge (think salsa verde) over thick and juicy grilled swordfish steaks.

On the menu (page numbers indicate page in the Barbecue! Bible, unless otherwise noted):

  • Planked Salmon (Beer Can Chicken, page 223)
  • Tandoori Prawns (page 355)
  • Grilled Fish Gurney Drive (recipe follows, page 298)
  • Grilled Swordfish with Sauce Vierge (page 297)

Grilled Fish, Plank and Simple

For most people, the hardest thing about grilling fish is keeping it from sticking to the grate. The second hardest thing is turning fillets without breaking them. Pacific Northwesters have devised an ingenious solution to these problems -one that adds flavor and theatrics. They grill fish on cedar planks. Planks prevent sticking-heck, you don't even turn the fish-and they impart a haunting spicy flavor that utterly transforms salmon. I've kept the seasonings simple, just a glaze of mustard, dill, and mayonnaise, so you can experience the cedary aromas in the fish.

Sample Recipe from
Beer Can Chicken:
Pacific Northwest Planked Salmon printer-ready version

Serves 4

For the salmon:

  • 1 salmon fillet, with or without skin (about 11/2 pounds; ideally cut from the end closest to the head; see Note)
  • About 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (preferably Hellmann's)
  • 1/3 cup Meaux (grainy French) mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

You'll Also Need:

  • 1 cedar plank (about 6 by 12 inches), soaked for 2 hours in water to cover (a rimmed baking sheet or large roasting pan works well for soaking),then drained

Run your fingers over the salmon fillet, feeling for bones. Using needle-nose pliers or tweezers, pull out any you find. Rinse the salmon under cold running water, then blot it dry with paper towels. If using salmon with skin, generously brush the skin with olive oil. If using skinless salmon, brush one side of the fish with olive oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place the salmon on the plank, skin side down, if it has one; oiled side down if not.

Make the glaze: Place the mayonnaise, mustard, dill, and lemon zest in a nonreactive mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high.

When ready to cook, spread the glaze mixture evenly over the top and sides of the salmon. Place the salmon on its plank in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook the salmon until cooked through and the glaze is a deep golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. To test for doneness, insert an instant-read meat thermometer through the side of the salmon: The internal temperature should be about 135F. Another test is to insert a slender metal skewer in the side of the fillet for 20 seconds: It should come out very hot to the touch.

Transfer the plank and fish to a heatproof platter and slice the fish crosswise into serving portions. Serve the salmon right off the plank.

Note: You can use fish fillets with or without skin-your choice. (My wife finds that the skin makes the salmon taste fishy. I love it.) For that matter, the recipe works well with other rich oily fish fillets, including bluefish and pompano.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort