Sunday, August 8, 2010

Barbecued Salmon and Grilling Sauce

Capt Chef Rl checks a dinner-sized portion of BBQ Salmon
The weather was good and the fishing was hot! We brought three large coho back to the big boat, large as in much larger than usual, not really really large like a king (chinook). Even the commercial trollers have commented on the size of the fish in this year’s run of silvers. Three big coho - that’s the good news. The freezer is almost full - that’s the not-so-good news. We need to eat a lot of fish before we go fishing again. We’re up to the challenge with barbecued salmon for dinners, salmon salad for lunches, and lox curing in the refrigerator for snacks and appetizers in the days ahead.

There’s something special about freshly caught salmon, grilled to perfection on the barbecue, basted and topped with our not-so-secret sauce. I know some cooks swear by a pure approach, using only salt and pepper to flavor each fillet. Others advocate a mayonnaise-based topping, or a teriyaki soak, then wrapping the fish in foil and steaming it on the BBQ or in the oven. I have tried countless other salmon entrĂ©e recipes, usually on the days when it’s too stormy to send the Capt outside to man the barbecue. I’ll panfry the odd bits and trimmings in butter for breakfast, sprinkled with a hint of salt and pepper, but the real deal is the Capt’s two-step, on-the-barbecue special with sauce. This has been a family favorite for so long we can't remember where or when the recipe originated.

You can't really see the special sauce, but trust me, it makes a difference!

Another guilty secret to share: I adore any leftover salmon cooked this way. It’s a great addition to a Caesar salad, makes a tasty salmon spread, and adds a special note to several soups, pastas, and fillings for crepes or omelets. What’s more tempting then the buttery richness of fresh salmon mixed with the salty tang of bacon?

Salmon Salad - from a different piece of BBQ salmon

 Salmon Grilling Sauce
M/V Rhapsody

Bacon, about 3 thick strips, cubed in ¼ inch  pieces
Butter, several TBS (optional, use if bacon is too lean)
Scallions, 3+ chopped
Lemon Juice, about ¼ cup
Garlic, 3 cloves minced or powder
Dill weed, at least 1 TBS
Lemon pepper dill garlic commercial mix (optional)

All of the above quantities will always depend on the size of the fillet, so we adjust to fit the fish.  Begin by cooking the bacon in a small saucepan, just till it begins to soften and ooze fat.* Add a bit of butter, if needed, and the scallions and simmer a few minutes longer. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over low heat to blend flavors.

Grill salmon fillet, meat side down, for about 5 minutes to seal this side. Turn the fillet over, spoon on the sauce and cook covered until fish is done (time depends on thickness, but NEVER overcook fish). If the fillet is very thick, baste with sauce again after a few minutes.

Note: we LOVE the topping and leftover fish on salads and in sandwiches so I always make a large batch.

*Capt’s Note: he’d prefer the bacon cooked until crispy, then add the rest of the ingredients. Who can argue with the barbecue chef?

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