Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cedar Plank Salmon and Guacamole

My sister, her husband, and their three cats drove over hill and dale to meet their good friend Cathy as she finished her 3,000 mile bike trek across the country ending close to our place at the beach.  Two other couples came from hither and yon to celebrate Cathy’s amazing accomplishment (Cathy is not what one would call a spring chick – her 30 year-old son managed to ride 2,000 of the distance before giving up)  So a celebration was definitely needed.  Plus it was my brother-in-law’s birthday.

The menu was simple but sported two highlights – fresh guacamole and cedar plank salmon.  Recipes that the LOML (Love Of My Life) and I have perfected over the years. 

Darn Good But Simple Guacamole
4 ripe avocados
1 can small diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup medium hot green taco sauce (we use La Victoria)
½   teaspoon Adobo seasoning* (a combination of salt, pepper, garlic and onion)
1 tablespoon lime juice (optional)
1 small can diced green chilis (optional)
½ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
1 bag of corn tortilla chips (our favorite is Tostitos round corn chips – not the mini ones, too small, and not the scoops because they hold way too much of the good stuff) 

Cut the avocados in half (lengthwise) and remove the pit.  Carefully cut the avocado “meat” into ½ dices in the half shell and then squeeze into a mixing bowl.  Some of the avocado will be chunky and some will be mushed.  Add all of the other ingredients, gently stir.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving so the flavors can “marry”.  Serve with tortilla chips. 

*If  cannot find Adobo seasoning you can make your own.  I use this stuff on practically everything I cook.  This recipe comes from A Taste of Puerto Rico by Yvonne Ortiz:
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon black pepper 

Cedar Plank Salmon on the Grill
½” thick cedar plank* – length that fits within the grill with the top closed and long enough for the salmon – for a big crowd you might need more than one plank  (important!)
Salmon filet – about 1/3 pound per person (thicker is better and consult the Monterey Bay  Aquarium list of ecologically sound types of salmon to purchase)
Olive or some other type of vegetable oil
Adobo (see above for recipe) 

Soak the cedar planks submersed in water for at least 2 hours or more.  You will have to weigh them down in the water. 

When you are about ready to grill, pull any small bones from the salmon.  I use spring-action needle-nose pliers that are dedicated to cooking jobs (no sharing with the LOML in his workroom).  Remove the cedar plank (or planks, depending on how much salmon you are grilling.)  Coat one side of the plank(s) with oil and place salmon, skin side down, on plank(s).  Rub oil over exposed surface of the fish and sprinkle with Adobo.  If there are narrower parts of the fish, fold them under so that the piece(s) are of even thickness. Tent with aluminum foil but be sure not to tuck foil around the fish, you want the cedar smoke to permeate the salmon.  Grill salmon until the doneness of your liking – I like mine somewhat rare and others like it cooked through.  Be careful not to overcook.  I would say 15 to 20 minutes on a gas grill. 

I like to serve my salmon skin off which requires some last minute hot-finger work (especially if you had to fold thin parts under for even cooking).   But this way guests end up with super clean plates!

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