Barbecued Copper River Salmon

We are currently in the small, several-week window, much celebrated in the Pacific Northwest, when the Alaskan Copper River salmon is available. This delectable (albeit overpriced) fish has a firm, delicate, bright red flesh very high in omega-3 oils, and is a true highlight of the culinary year.

My wife bought some very nice fillets this week, and with our weather being a gorgeous sunny 70 degrees, it seemed fitting to barbecue this delicacy. After browsing a few recipes and tweaking them liberally, here’s what I came up with: a subtle marinade and a honey lime yogurt sauce. Here goes:

The Marinade

(the quantities are approximate)

1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
The juice of one small lime
2 tbsp aromatic peanut oil
1 tbsp garlic oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp sesame seeds
ground pepper
2-3 chopped scallions

Divide the fillet into 2 or 3 pieces. Place the above ingredients in a small Pyrex baking dish, and marinate the fillets for about 1 hour, spooning the marinade over the fish periodically, and flipping once. Gently pierce the fish with a fork to allow penetration of the marinade.

Yogurt Sauce

Two small containers of plain unflavored yogurt
4-5 finely chopped scallions
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp of cumin
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
2 inches of garlic paste
salt & pepper to taste

Mix the above ingredients well and chill.

Cooking the Fish

I am partial to charcoal grills (oak, not mesquite) as they impart a superior flavor to barbecued foods — albeit with a bit more fuss than propane grills (ugh!). Make a small tray of aluminum foil for each fillet, and pierce the bottom a few times with a fork to allow some of the oils & juices to drip onto the coals. Place the fillets skin-down on the foil, spooning on some of the marinade, and place them off-center on the grill so they are not over the hottest part of the coals. I use a covered Weber grill with the holes closed about half way to keep the temperature lower. My fillets cooked about 20-25 minutes, but this will depend on the heat of the coals and the thickness of the fish, so I check the thick part with a fork for doneness (I am not a big fan of the nearly-raw fish served in many restaurants nowadays). Salmon is very forgiving as its oil content is so high.

I served the salmon up with white corn on the cob, potato salad, a lime wedge and a sprig of dill with some chopped dill sprinkled over, and the yogurt sauce on the side.

The reviews from the critics (my family, who are very tough judges) were 5-star. And I must admit I concur.

Give it a try.

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2 thoughts on “Barbecued Copper River Salmon

  1. Mmmm Sounds great. It is very difficult to get hold of wild salmon around here. I had heard that there were big problems with disease from the farm hatcheries infecting and killing many of the wild salmon (forget the exact location).

    My dad developed fish farms around the world, in the early days of fish farm expansion, and we kids had tender, non-predatory feelings for critters we watched grow from spawn. Also, our inside knowledge of what they ate (at one point he had a contract with a big oil company to develop food from petroleum byproducts, much as feed for other animals has been made from repulsive ingredients in recent years) lessened our youthful enthusiasm for eating them. At any rate, we would only eat wild salmon as kids, as a result. We figured they had a sporting chance at escaping..And they taste better.

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