My Introduction to Grilled Wild Pacific Salmon

Wild Pacific Salmon, Roasted Asparagus, Spinach Salad

How do you choose your every-day meals? In our household, Mike seems to have a 7-day meal recall; he recounts backwards: “yesterday we had chicken, the day before we had filet mignon, before that we had scallops; we had veal chops before that, leftover chicken the day before, and salmon last week.” He’s learned to call before he leaves the office to see if I’ve made it to Grow to pick up dinner. If not, he swings by Bristol Farms (he hates doing that, by the way) to pick up veal chops or a prepared rotisserie chicken. We usually make either a clay-pot roasted or Beer Can grilled chicken on Sunday, and then we have the leftover chicken and salad on Tuesday. If I plan it in advance, I’ll pick up salmon by noon, put the salmon rub on it, and let it “marinate” in the refrigerator until dinner. One of us soaks a cedar plank for half an hour, and then Mike grills the salmon on the plank.

Speaking of which….. Mike made THE BEST salmon on Friday night! My relationship with the fish has been a bit rocky. When I went to Seattle for the first time in 1983, everybody in NJ told me that the Pacific salmon was so delicious! I tried it (baked in papillote) and hated it. For years I’d try salmon prepared all different ways when any of my dinner companions had it. When I moved to Seattle in 2000, I continued to taste it. One of the funniest Seattle phenomena is Copper River Salmon “season”. There are signs everywhere proclaiming “Copper River Salmon has arrived!”. Restaurants prominently feature it on their menus. HUGE banners outside of grocery stores beckon you to get the fish while it’s still available. There’s even a “Salmon Days” celebration is Issaquah. Mind you, it costs $30 a pound (more in California). It’s only available during the “season”, and then for only about 4 weeks, maybe 5. One day when Mike and I were having dinner at John Howie’s Seastar restaurant in Bellevue, I decided to order the spice-rubbed, plank-grilled salmon. Mike loves salmon, but he was having our “usual” Seastar favorite, seared ahi tuna. He assured me that if I didn’t like the salmon we could switch. Well, I was hooked (pun intended)! And Mike didn’t get to share any of my meal.  From that day forward I was a Copper River salmon (and for that matter, wild Pacific salmon) fan. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I ONLY like it prepared the same way: spice-rubbed, plank-grilled. Mike has luckily mastered the technique, and we are able to feast on wild Pacific salmon all year long.

So, what’s on the menu for the rest of the week-end? I have some jumbo lump crabmeat in the refrigerator, and I just found what looks like a great recipe for lighter crab cakes and remoulade sauce in the 2011 Cooking Light Cookbook. I may try that. Or veal chops seasoned with S&P and grilled, and our usual Spinach, Mushroom and Strawberry salad with Pecans & Raspberry Vinaigrette. Of course, Sunday is whole chicken day. I LOVE mashed potatoes with chicken, but I think we’ll opt for green vegetables instead.

Alder-Planked Spice-Rubbed Salmon

1 or 2 (15 x 6 ½ x 3/8-inch) alder or cedar grilling planks *

Spice rub for Salmon (John Howie’s “3 Chefs in a Tub” rub) *

1 (2-pound) salmon fillet

4 hours ahead: Sprinkle salmon with salmon rub. Lightly rub into the salmon. Let rest, uncovered; refrigerate for 2-4 hours (longer is okay).

Immerse and soak planks for 1 hour (use a can to weigh it down); drain.

Place fish, skin side down, on plank. Grill, covered, 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork (internal temperature of 130°).

* Note: you can order planks for use on barbecue grills, oven planks and various spice rubs from Planks are also available at Bristol Farms or Whole Foods, along with salmon spice rubs at the Fish counter, or at Sur la Table.

Calories 307, Fat 10g, Protein 38g; Carb 5g

Roasted Asparagus

Toss asparagus spears with olive oil, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast at 450° for 5-7 minutes or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle with Balsamic Vinegar, and top with shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Soooo….. eating is sort of under control (and we haven’t had any wine since Mother’s Day). I’m getting back into a more rigorous workout routine: an hour on Friday morning plus a walk to the beach before dinner, Yoga on Saturday morning plus another walk AT the beach (again before dinner), and we’ll undoubtedly walk to the beach again today, and clock a few miles on The Strand. It’ll be interesting to get on the scale on Wednesday to see if I’ve lost the 2.5 pounds that I’m aiming for this week! Gotta go! I have push-ups and sit-ups to do!!

Here’s to your health!


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