If you're wondering what to make this Independence Day that is healthy and delicious and NOT seem like "diet food," I have an amazing and EASY recipe for you: Cedar Planked Salmon! Salmon is rich in omega-3's, high in protein, and carb free! It's a fancy meal for guests or a simple meal for family, and goes great on the grill for summertime cooking.
If you've never planked salmon before, you really should give this a try! I promise it is not complicated and the results are fantastic. Start with the freshest salmon you can find, even if that means frozen (thaw it before cooking). Wild salmon is much tastier and better for you than farmed. My son caught the wild salmon I grilled last night. Check with your grocery store's meat counter to find the freshest wild salmon you can. You'll need fillets for this recipe (not steaks) but it doesn't matter if the skin is on one side or not.
The next important thing you'll need is a Cedar plank. You can also use an Alder plank for this recipe. Make sure you get *untreated,* food grade planks; you don't want to pick up some old cedar siding and cook your food on it because the chemicals will leach into your fish. Anyway, you need to soak your plank for a couple of hours before cooking with it. Just put it in a sink or a container full of water and place something heavy on it to keep it submerged, like so:
Soak it for at least 2 hours. You can even soak it overnight if you want.
Start your grill and get it hot. I use a charcoal grill but a gas grill is fine. While it is heating, prep your fish. You want the fillets to sit out on the counter for 15 minutes or so before cooking them. Then rub a little olive oil over both sides of the fillet. If it has skin on one side, you will cook it skin side down. Mine had no skin.
Sprinkle the oiled fish with freshly ground black pepper and some of your best salt (sea salt is nice)... not too much. I like to use Himalayan Crystal Salt because it is cute and pink, tastes good, and is supposed to have health benefits and be better for you because it is unrefined and contains lots of natural minerals for good health.
Take your plank out of the water and put it on the hot grill for a couple of minutes. Then go out and brush a little olive oil on the plank and lay your fish fillets on top. Shut the lid. The plank will smoke... a lot. If you soaked it, it shouldn't catch fire, but peek every so often and if the edges are starting to catch, lower your heat (if it is a gas grill) and just use a water sprayer or glass of water to douse any little flames. I have never had a plank catch fire.
(As an aside, the foil packet on my grill is filled with fresh asparagus sprinkled with a bit of water and olive oil, Himalayan Crystal salt and pepper. I crimped the foil and put it on the grill at the same time as the fish and it was perfectly done at the same time).
Keep the lid closed except to peek at the board. After about 10 minutes your fillets *may* be done, so check them then. You can use a meat thermometer (135 degrees is about the right time to take them off) or just use the "flake" method, which I do: use a fork and sort of try to flake up some salmon in the thickest part of the fillet. If it looks raw it probably is. You do not want to overcook it though. It needs to be moist inside. If I can pry a flake out of the center I know it is done. Mine took exactly 15 minutes.
Mmmmm, so yummy! My whole family wolfed this down. Great stuff. I served this with grilled asparagus and a green salad. The kids also had brown & wild rice and whole wheat bread with theirs.
Have a healthy and happy 4th of July weekend!
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