Over many years of avid fishing, I have run into a handful of people that swore they did not like eating fish, and never would. However, experience has taught me that not all fish are created or prepared equal. Even in a region like the Pacific Northwest, where world-class seafood is readily available, not every dish found at high-end restaurants does the resource justice. Here are three different recipes, at least one of which is bound to appeal to the picky-palated. Of course, there are some people who simply will never care for the flavor or texture of fish and will therefore not like any of these dishes. Still, I reckon for every one of them, there will be two people that love all three.
Some general info: I cook all of my salmon and steelhead with the skin on, skin side down. I think leaving the skin on helps keep in the moisture of the fish, protect the bottom from overcooking and helps indicate when the fish is getting close to done. Plus, the meat slides cleanly and easily off the skin when the fish is cooked, a much easier process than skinning it beforehand with a fillet knife. I also build an aluminum foil boat for all my fish because it saves mess in oven dishes and does the same on the barbeque, plus prevents excessive flaming. Make the boat by taking a sheet of aluminum foil slightly larger than your fillet of fish, and twice folding the edges over to make about a one inch wall around the sheet.
Barbequed with Brown Sugar, Pineapple and Onions
The first time I cook fish for a person, this is usually my go-to recipe. Something about the brown sugar really compliments the flavor of salmon and steelhead. In my opinion, the barbeque is also a good place to learn how to cook fish. I cook all my salmon on about medium-high settings, making sure the grill is heated before you place the fish in the barbeque. About a half hour before you start cooking the fish, remove it from the refrigerator and place it skin side down in your foil boat. Apply generous handfuls of brown sugar to the fish, rubbing it in lightly, but leaving a layer about ¼ inch thick covering the fish. Next, take slices of canned or fresh pineapple and lay them on top of the brown sugar, doing the same with slices of sweet onions. I like to spread another light layer of brown sugar on top of the onions and pineapple because they are both delicious when barbequed and lightly glazed. I also add a sprinkling of garlic pepper. Let the fish stand for about thirty minutes at room temperature; this helps the brown sugar dissolve and absorb into the fish. If I plan on letting it sit more than a half hour, I put it back in the refrigerator. The longer you wait before you cook it, the more the sweetness will be infused into the meat. When you are ready to start cooking, place the boat with your salmon onto the grill.
Cooking time on the grill is not an exact science. You can tell the fish is done when it has changed from the semi-translucent red or orange color to a more opaque color. If you attempt to flake it away with a fork, it should flake easily and naturally in small sections. Also, if you push the entire fillet lightly with a fork, it should start to slide across the skin. When you notice these indicators, slide a spatula between the fish and the skin and remove the meat from the skin and barbeque. This recipe is excellent served with your favorite variety of rice.
Barbequed on Cedar Plank with herbs
For people that love the flavor of salmon and want a preparation that accentuates its natural taste instead of overpowering it in any way, I recommend this recipe. You can choose between putting the fillet directly on the cedar plank, skin side down, or placing the fish in a foil boat and the cedar plank alongside it. Either way, make sure to soak the plank in water for thirty minutes prior to barbequing to prevent it from catching fire. The cedar adds a slight smoky flavor to the fish.
After placing the fish on the plank or in the aluminum foil, sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and dried dill weed. Take several slices of yellow onions and place them on the fillet. Place the fish on the barbeque and cook until you see the indications that it is done (discussed above). This recipe tastes delicious with a light drizzle of lemon juice and served with fresh corn on the cob.
Baked and Broiled with Garlic and Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 330 degrees. Again, create a foil boat and lay it into a glass pan to place the fillet in, skin side down. Start by sprinkling garlic pepper on the fish. Next, add a thin layer of parmesan cheese, which should cover the entire piece of fish, but not be too deep. Preferably using the squeeze bottle container, add a thin layer of mayonnaise or Miracle Whip ™ on top of the shredded parmesan. Then, add another generous layer of parmesan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven. The goal is to cook the fish until it would technically need about ten more minutes of cook time. This amount of time will vary with the thickness of the fish, and the guestimate takes a little practice. Turn the oven to broil, and move the fish to the top rack. Broil until the parmesan turns light brown and crispy. If you have timed it right, the fish should be done. However, if you attempt to flake the meat away and it is not done, turn the oven back to 330 degrees, move the fish back to the middle rack and allow it to finish cooking. Remove the fish from the oven, and serve it with warm garlic bread.
Hopefully, one or all of these recipes sound too good not to try. Enjoy!