Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cooking with Cedar

As I sat nestled in my cubicle listening to the relentless rain pummel the window panes of the tribal center, I thought about the morale day the hubby and all of his crony C-130 Chiefs were participating in at the Old's River.  The rain was really coming down that day, but the fishing trip went on as planned.  As I've mentioned before, if you don't go out when it's misty or rainy out in Kodiak - you'll never leave the house.

I was jealous of the fishing plans the night before, because I've wanted to go salmon fishing all summer long and haven't harassed anyone enough to take me.  The harassment of someone who actually knows what they're doing is completely necessary.  Because I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing in the salmon fishing department.  No clue whatsoever.  Believe me, they'll be a future post about my first timer salmon fishing day.  Hopefully with a catch!

Doesn't look very big here
My fishing envy of the hubby that day ended as I was looking out the window at the rain - which was then coming down sideways. I was pretty content in my dry, fluorescent-lighted surroundings, despite the fact that I was at work.  What's the lame saying you see on redneck t-shirts?  "Even a bad day fishing is better than a good day working."  Well, lucky for the hubby, outside of the weather - it wasn't a bad day fishing. In fact, it was a pretty good day fishing.

When I saw the picture he sent me of his catch, all I could envision was tales of cedar planked salmon goodness for dinner.  The funny thing was that the first picture he sent didn't have any context to see how big the fish was that he caught.  So, it just kind of looked like any old fish.  But then...he sent another one of the salmon in the cooler in the kitchen and holy hell!  Context!  The thing was huge!  You've got to love the Cheety curiosity, too.

Boom - Context!  That's a damn big fish!

One little charcoal chimney starter grilling tip we've picked up over the years - I think courtesy of Cook's Illustrated, is to use an empty paper towel roll when lighting the grill.  Just position the paper towel roll in the center of the chimney starter and pile the charcoal all around it.

The cylinder helps to draw oxygen down to the bottom of the chimney starter,  and gets the flame going pretty well. We have a running collection of empty paper towel rolls that we use every time we break out the grill. Give it a try if you have a Weber-type charcoal grill and chimney starter - I bet you'll notice a difference in how quickly your grill gets toasty.

It went without saying that our first homemade salmon dinner would be grilled on a cedar plank.  It's the pinnacle of salmon preparation, in my humble, still new to the salmon game opinion.  And the hubby is a complete convert to the whole cedar plank method.   He raved about it for days afterwards. It really adds a nice flavor to the fish, and the scents that come off the wood are so woodsy and diverse.  It ranges from that earthy cedar scent, to vanilla, to little bits cinnamon and pine.  And all those flavors are transferred to the salmon in a subtle melding of seasoning.  The garlic-molasses-soy type glaze he whipped up to baste on the fish while it cooked wasn't too shabby either.

Anytime you can eat fish that was swimming that morning is going to equal a fantastic meal.  Salmon the way it's supposed to taste!  Not that fishy, sad excuse for salmon I tried over and over and OVER and never liked before we moved here.  That's because I didn't know it then, but I wasn't experiencing salmon the way it's supposed to taste.  And I'll fully admit to transforming into a salmon snob.  Because really, once you have the best of something - food wise - it's hard to forget.  And even harder to go back to a bad version of it. And hell, if I can actually catch it myself?  Yes and yes.

So we rounded out our dinner that night with a salad and some leftover stuck pot rice, which is another excellent recipe we discovered over at the smitten kitchen.  Definitely recommend giving that one a try.  And its vegetarian, for those of you who are into that kind of thing.  I gotta say, our first salmon procured all legit-Alaskan style straight from the river was top notch.  I can count it in the best salmon I've ever had category.  Here's the cedar planked salmon glamor shot:

And the best part?  That mother of a fish gives us at least 4-5 meals to look forward to thanks to the vacuum sealer and the garage freezer.  Sweet.

Ta-ta for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment