Thursday, June 05, 2014

Cedar Plank Salmon

Sometimes the act of cooking takes me back to being in my element, in my body. Fills me with lightness and nourishment and appreciation.  Brings me back to myself. Tonight was one of those nights.  I have been gone for days and nights on end. A succession of days and nights piled onto one another mostly due to poor planning on my part, offering little to no opportunity to cook and eat healthy.

Besides just being overloaded schedule wise, I've been mourning the loss of my dad, who left this earth and all who loved him on April 29th. That might have something to do with the way my entire being has felt like a ton of bricks that I struggle to drag around.  And there is a lot more I want to say about this, but for now, suffice it to say that grief has been my constant companion, and likely will be for quite some time to come.

In the meantime, life has a way of going on  - and in the midst of the chaos, some of the days and nights have been fun, filled with music and friends and family and sweet memories that I will always cherish.

And, some of it has just been drudgery.  Get up. Drag self to work. Zombie my way through the day.  Drag self to the next place.  Try to be present. Fail. Stagger home, defeated, already exhausted just thinking about the next day and the day after that. Consider therapy. Dream of cooking and eating an amazing meal. Or even just a decent one.

Tonight I finally got to cook that meal.  That amazing meal. Local wild salmon in season, cooked on the cedar plank that had been soaked in white wine. Barley pilaf with grilled portobello mushrooms and eggplant, and radishes with salt and olive oil. It was simple.  It was dynamite. It was therapy. It was everything I dreamed it would be.

It could have been a total disaster, as I'd only once cooked with the cedar plank before, and didn't really know what I was doing.  But some combination of intuition, research and dumb luck conspired to make everything right, and that's exactly how I felt when I ate this meal with my honey in our back yard on a warm summer evening, surrounded by our garden that is growing wildly.  And so I had to stop and give thanks.


Cedar Plank Salmon

This is more of a guide than a recipe.  Soak your cedar plank in white wine for several hours.

Take a piece of super fresh, wild, in season salmon.  You'll know it's super fresh because it won't smell or taste fishy and it will be vibrant in color. Drizzle it with olive oil, season well with salt and pepper, and drape a few thin slices of lemon across the top. Resist the urge to add more in the way of spices and sauces - if the salmon is super fresh, you won't need or want much more.

Heat your grill to medium heat.  Place the plank with the salmon on it on the top rack, so it is not directly over the heat.  Close the lid and cook for approximately 20-30 minutes.  The wine soaked cedar will steam and smoke and infuse the salmon with a wonderful, light sweetness.  And who among us couldn't use more light sweetness in their lives?  Certainly not me.

Don't flip it or anything.  And don't mess around with it too much.  Just let the steam and smoke and flames do their thing.  We had a piece that was about 1 pound, and it cooked this way for a little over 20 minutes.  And the salmon was perfectly tender and moist inside, and beautifully caramelized and roasted on the outside.

You could be content with only this, or you could do as we did, and grill some portobello mushrooms and eggplant and toss with some cooked barley, and served it all up with diced radishes with salt and olive oil, and call it dinner.  Rest a little easier this night, and be hopeful for a lighter tomorrow.

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