Barbecued Copper River Salmon

Copper River SalmonWe 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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