Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The King is here!

It's mid-May and the small town of Cordova, Alaska
Cordova, Alaska
buzzing. You see, this is the launching point for many of the areas commercial fisherman in search of the lucrative Copper River King Salmon. The opening of the season was on May 15th and the first commercial fishing session was limited to 12 hours. Needless to say, fishing was less than spectacular. However, conditions have improved and we are starting to see more and more Kings make their way to fine restaurants and retailers.

Copper River
Copper River is a world renown fishery. It's treasure being King and Sockeye salmon. These are some of the first wild river fish caught and if you ever had the pleasure, you can definitely taste the difference. Here's why, the fish are returning to the river where their life began, only to spawn and start the circle of life again. The laborious journey requires great strength. Prior to making the trip, the salmon go on an intense feeding frenzy. As a result, the fat content in the fish is tremendously high. And.....fat means flavor!

That being said, my preference in preparing Copper River
King Salmon
Kings is to keep it simple. The fish has such a wonderful flavor, it would be a crime to cover it up. One of my favorites is Cedar Planked Salmon. It's very easy to cook and the smokiness from the cedar plank is a wonderful addition to the flavor of the salmon. Cedar planks can be found in various cooking stores or on line. Here's my recipe for Cedar Planked Salmon. Get some King salmon while you can, the season doesn't last very long! 

Chef Joe

 Cedar Planked Salmon

Serves 2

2 ea.       King Salmon portions, skin off, 6-7 oz. each
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
1/2 cup Tarragon Mustard Butter (recipe follows)
1 ea.       Small Zucchini, cut into 1/2" planks
1 ea.       Small Yellow Squash, cut into 1/2" planks
6 ea.      New Potatoes, quartered
2 ea.      Cedar Planks, soaked in cold water for a minimum of 2 hours
As needed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Kosher Salt, Ground Black Pepper

1)     Prepare your charcoal grill with medium high hot coals

2)     Lightly rub the salmon portions with olive oil and season both sides with the first quantity of salt and ground black pepper. Reserve

3)     Place the new potatoes in a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil kosher salt, black pepper and fresh thyme leaves.  Toss well and arrange on the outer edges of the heat grill.

4)     Place the seasoned salmon on the cedar planks and place the planks in the center of the grill.

5)     Place the squash and zucchini in the mixing bowl used the season the potatoes. As like the potatoes, toss with olive oil, salt, black pepper and thyme. Arrange the vegetables on the grill around the Salmon.

6)     Brush the salmon with the softened tarragon Mustard butter. Turn the vegetables and potatoes over, close the lid of the grill and cook (with vents half open) for 6 minutes. Open the lid of the grill, baste the salmon again and cook until the fish is firm to the touch, approx. 3-4 minutes.

7)     Arrange the vegetables and potatoes around the edge of two dinner plates. Place one Cedar plank salmon on each plate and brush one final time with the butter.

Tarragon Mustard Butter

1 stick    Unsalted Butter, softened at room temperature       
1/4 tsp.  Kosher Salt
Pinch     Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbl.     Dijon Mustard
1 Tbl.      Fresh Tarragon Leaves, rough chopped

Combine all ingredient in a small mixing bowl and blend well.

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