This recipe—a celebration of B.C. Wild Salmon season coinciding with the peak of stone fruit season in the Okanagan—is bulletproof, says executive chef at Naramata Inn Ned Bell. It’s also quintessentially West Coast, and pays homage to Indigenous cooking techniques with the “planking” of the fish.
The B.C. sockeye salmon used in this recipe is one of Bell’s favourites. “It’s lean, it’s dense, it doesn’t have a lot of rich fat in it,” he says, explaining that it needs more delicate preparations. Instead of cooking the fish on “direct” heat (barbecue, skillet) Bell makes allowances for home cooks who might accidentally dry out the fish.
Cooking the fish on top of a heated plank of wood (cedar, oak or alder) soaked beforehand so it doesn’t go up in flames when put over the heat, is a win-win: the fish stays moist and is also infused with natural flavours from the wood.
Grilling planks can be found at gourmet retailers or you can get untreated wood from the hardware store—twelve inches long, eight inches wide, and one inch thick. Remember to sand to remove splinters. You will need two for this recipe.
Bell says he knows that home cooks are often in a hurry, and this recipe is lightning fast. “I mean BC salmon is like Mother Nature’s real fast food,” he jokes.
Planked Salmon with Stone Fruits
1.5 pounds salmon fillet, skin on
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 dash of flaky sea salt
1 dash of black pepper
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only, plus extra for garnish
4 nectarines or apricots, halved
2 tablespoons honey
4 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta
Garden salad to serve
Soak the cedar plank in water for at least 30 minutes or up to a day before starting.
Preheat the grill to medium (about 350°F).
Use paper towels to pat the fish dry.
Rub all over with olive oil, and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the salmon (leaving some for the nectarines and for the garnish), and press to adhere.
Put the plank on the grill directly over the flames. Cover the grill and allow the plank to heat until starting to just smoke, about 2 minutes. Turn and repeat on the other side.
Add the fish, skin side down, to the plank.
Add the nectarines cut side up.
Drizzle the nectarines with honey, sprinkle with most of the remaining thyme leaves, and a little salt.
Cover the grill and cook for 7 to 12 minutes or until the fish is almost opaque all the way through and flakes easily, and the nectarines are caramelized and tender. (If the plank gets too hot and ignites, spritz it with water from a spray bottle.)
Alternatively, if you don’t have a plank, you can grill the salmon directly on an oiled grill grate for 3 to 4 minutes per side, and roast the nectarines in a baking dish in a 400°F oven for 12 minutes.
To serve, add a couple tablespoons of ricotta over each piece of fish, and sprinkle with the almonds. Garnish with thyme. Serve with a garden salad.
Pair with Amulet White, Viognier/Marsanne, or Naramata Bench 2020.
This October, Naramata Inn will host their “Season of Culinary” chef collaboration events, featuring chef Ned’s colleagues and mentors from around B.C., including: Andrea Carlson (winner, chef of the year, 2020), Michel Jacob (Le Crocodile), John Bishop, Rob Feenie and Michael Allemeir.
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