I am a student of cookbooks; reading them as religiously as some folks might read the Bible. And while I am not one to actually make the dishes outlined between their pages, I thrive on taking inspiration from them and incorporating bits and pieces into the types of kicked-up barbecue and grilling recipes I often share here.
One such book that I have enjoyed cover-to-cover is Gastro Grilling: Fired Up Recipes to Grill Great Everyday Meals by Ted Reader (Penguin Canada 2013) as Ted takes pride in taking every recipe in it just a little bit further.
While the recipes that really caught my attention (thanks in part to some amazing images) are too many to list, his plank-smoked salmon is one that I specifically wanted to share as it truly elevates this backyard favorite through the addition of an Asian inspired brine and mayo. While Ted doesn't specify the type of plank used in the recipe, I would suggest moving outside of your cedar planked salmon safety zone and try something different like a maple plank which I believe would pair perfectly with this recipe (plus your salmon won't smell like grandma's cedar closet!).
PLANK-SMOKED SALMON WITH SAKE BRINE AND WASABI MAYONNAISE*
For the fish:
1 ½ (375 mL) brewed soy sauce (such as Kikkoman)
½ cup (125 mL) sake
¼ cup (60 mL) mirin
1 cup (250 mL) firmly packed brown sugar, plus extra for grilling
12 thin slices peeled fresh ginger
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ tsp. (2 mL) Asian chili sauce
1 tbsp. (15 mL) coarse kosher salt
2 lb. (900 g) side of salmon, skin on, pin bones removed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh sage leaves, lightly chopped
For the mayonnaise
1 cup (250 mL) mayonnaise
1 tbsp. (15 mL) wasabi paste
1 tsp. (5 mL) fresh ginger, minced
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
Additional Tools: One food-safe grilling plank
In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, sake, mirin, brown sugar, sliced ginger, garlic, chili sauce and kosher salt, Whisk together until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Place the salmon fillet, skin side down, in a shallow glass dish large enough for the fillet to lie flat. Pour the marinade over. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Turn the fillet every few hours to allow the marinade to penetrate all over.
Remove fillet from marinade and set, skin side down, on the grilling plank. Refrigerate for 2 hours to allow the remaining marinade to set on the surface of the salmon. Season salmon with a little black pepper – not a lot, just a little. Sprinkle with a little extra brown sugar.
Fire up your grill to 350-450°F (180-230°C).
Place the salmon plank on the grill and sprinkle salmon with the sage. Close grill lid and plank smoke for 25-35 minutes, until the salmon is just done and can easily flake with a fork. Remove salmon from grill. Sprinkle surface of salmon with chopped fresh sage.
To make the Wasabi Mayonnaise, whisk together the mayonnaise, wasabi paste, minced ginger and garlic. Set aside.
Slice salmon into six equal portions and serve with a dollop of Wasabi Mayonnaise.
* Recipe from Gastro Grilling by Ted Reader. Copyright(r) Ted Reader 2014. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Photos by Mike McColl.