Cedar-Planked Sockeye with Dungeness Salad

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I wasn’t a big fan of salmon – or much seafood for that matter – for a long time. It’s a shame really. Being from the east coast, my parents used to have big lobster bakes every fourth of July where they would boil countless “bugs” and vats of steamers over the fire. I remember being disgusted while watching friends and relations crack open and slurp down those crustaceans as my tubby self mowed through a seemingly endless stream of hot dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a good hot dog, but I can’t help thinking that I missed out on some good eats year after year.

Since moving to the West coast and – frankly – growing up, I’ve come to appreciate the value of seafood.

Given our frequent trips to Dabob bay, we’re lucky enough to have a fresh supply of crab over the summer. We’re also lucky enough to have a steady flow of truly beautiful Sockeye flowing through the grocery stores on a regular basis.

While the preparation and cooking of this recipe took a relatively short time, the formation of the idea was a day-long process.

It began when I took a bag of cracked dungeness out of the freezer to thaw, and then went to the store to shop for the week. While perusing the meat and fish, I found some bright red Sockeye for $8.99 a pound; a price, and a fish, that I have a hard time passing up.

The problem – if you can call it that – that I created for myself, is that the salmon and the crab would need to be eaten, as neither would keep especially well in the fridge for an extra 24 hours. Oh Damn… we would need to eat salmon AND crab? That’s shitty.

My original plan was to grill the salmon, and serve it up with some crab pasta, but that seemed a little excessive. Then I started thinking about making crab cakes, but again, it seemed too heavy. So I figured out how to combine the two delectable seaborne critters: cook them together.

Rather than two separate mains, I merged them into one amazingly delicious dish.

Here’s what I used:

Crab Salad:

  • 2 cups dungeness crab meat
  • 1/4 cup mayo (to bind it together)
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Morton’s Nature’s Seasons
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • pinch each of salt and pepper

Salmon:

  • 3/4 lb Sockeye
  • salt and pepper
  • Nature’s Seasons
  • 2 lemons

Other:

  • Cedar plank
  • 3 beers (two for the cedar plank, one to drink while grilling)

I began with a cedar plank, which I soaked in two bottles of my homebrew for about two hours before cooking.

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I lightly sprinkled the salmon with equal parts salt, pepper and Morton’s seasoning.

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In order to make the crab salad, I simple folded the ingredients together until they were well-combined.

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Cooking:

Preheat the grill on high, and toast the cooking side of the cedar plank, which will help impart a nice smoky flavor into the fish.

Flip the plank, and place the fish – skin side down – on top, and squeeze some lemon juice (half a lemon) over the meat.

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Reduce the heat under the plank to low, or turn it off entirely. this will allow the fish and crab to cook evenly, absorb some smoke, and preclude the plank from catching on fire.

Finally, coat the fish with a generous layer of crab salad, and top the whole thing with thin slices of lemon.

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With the front burner on high, and the rear on low, the cooking time for my creation was about 12 minutes total.

The fish itself was very moist, and both the fish and the crab had slightly browned and absorbed a good deal of that delicious smoky cedar flavor.

I served it with a side of grilled asparagus.

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Frankly, this recipe was fucking delicious, and I will be making it again.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m starting to see what I wanna see I believe… First I read ‘drunkenness’ in the header. Later I see beer poured into the dish… Time for bed Micky! 😛
    But seriously… Looks delicious mate!

  2. I always thought planking was a form of torture for terrorists… now I see it is a form of torture for the hungry as well. I would never have thought of planking in the oven though, that’s a master stroke.

    AV

    1. Brian says:

      It’s on the grill, not in the oven. Although now I’m curious as to whether or not that would work well….

      1. Yes, I saw yours was on the grill, but I read the packing label… “…for the oven or grill”

        AV

      2. Brian says:

        Ah. Now I’m certainly going to give it a try

      3. I notice these things. As I tell the regulars in the bar, ‘I’m old, not silly.’

        AV

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