Friday, July 4, 2014

A New Twist On An American Theme

I'm a huge fan of planking, as you may know.  Stick just about any kind of fish or poultry on an untreated cedar shingle, set it over a well-lighted stack of coals on the barbecue, put the cover down and, in just about 20 minutes, you've got a delicious dinner. The smoke generated by the plank gives wonderful flavor while protecting the food from the heat of the direct flame.

Knowing this, our friend Jeanne sent us a care package for our construction cookery, when we have a barbecue grill and little else. These are cedar wraps, almost as thin as a sheet of paper, in which to wrap your food for the barbie. A fun new twist! I tried them last week with some wild silver salmon, some sea scallops, and a handful of asparagus. The fishmonger at my market warned me that the silver salmon is not top grade salmon, even though it is wild-caught - I was interested to see what the wraps could do with salmon that cost me about 2/3 less per pound than my usual choice of wild king salmon.

The instructions said to soak the cedar paper and the included kitchen string in water for five minutes before wrapping your choice of food and tying it up. I made four bundles - salmon with asparagus, salmon by itself, scallops with asparagus, and asparagus by itself as a test. I set the corn straight on the grill. 

Like planking, this technique protects the food from the heat of the fire, so the texture of all the fish was tender and just barely cooked in 20 minutes. Another time, I would cook it just a tad longer. I might also omit the soaking stage as my wraps never did begin to smoke and it's that sweet smoke that adds so much flavor. Having said that, My Beloved scarfed up his scallops and enjoyed them very much. 

My salmon, despite being a lower grade of fish, was actually quite good, milder in flavor than the other kinds of salmon and closer to trout even though it is an ocean-run fish. The mild cedar flavor was noticeable but not overwhelming.

The vegetables needed a few more minutes, but were otherwise fine. I guess I like them grilled directly a little bit more, but it was an interesting experiment anyway.

Jeanne sent us a nice supply of the cedar papers, so I'm going to try smoking some fruit next - I think nectarines and perhaps cherries would make a killer dessert. Just imagine that smoky, sweet, concentrated fruit - can't wait to give them a whirl! 

And what could be more American on Independence Day than to grill something? Maybe I'll even stick to red cherries, white nectarines, and blue berries.

Happy Fourth of July!  For all it's faults, we are still lucky to live in a fine country.


Blogger Diane said...

How interesting! I so agree with your last sentence. Happy 4th weekend to you and your beloved.

Saturday, July 05, 2014  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Diane, thanks! So far, it has been a lovely weekend.

Sunday, July 06, 2014  

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