Cooking with Cedar
Aromatic Red Cedar
(Juniperus Virginiana)

Native Americans were baking fish on Cedar planks long before Lewis and Clark came through the US Northwest on their 1804 - 1806 Expedition. The infusion of the smoky essence of the cedar will have your taste buds dancing with joy.


Just as Chef Michael Rossi is doing here, you can purchase your untreated cedar planks at Home Depot or a local lumber yard.

Use only "Untreated" cedar for this recipe. NEVER use "treated" cedar planks. "Treated" wood is highly poisonous!

Melinda Lee's 6 Steps to Perfect Cooking On Cedar Planks

"Sand the wood: If the wood is rough, sand it smooth on one side - the side you’ll put the food on - so you won’t have splinters in the food.

Soak the wood: Soak the piece of wood you plan to use, for at least an hour, in water (for example, in the sink); weight it down with a couple of unopened cans of food from the pantry, or a clean brick wrapped in aluminum foil, or whatever... so the wood will remain submerged. After soaking, remove it from the water, pat it dry with towels or paper towels, and rub oil into the smooth side - the side on which you’ll place the food to be cooked.

If you are using the oven: Place the soaked, oiled (oil on the food side only) wood in a cold oven, and turn on the oven to 350 degrees. In about 15 minutes, place the food to be cooked on the hot wood, and continue baking until the food is done. [Do not increase the heat, or cook for much more than 1/2 hour - or the wood may catch fire.]

If you are using the barbeque grill: Place the seasoned food on the soaked, oiled (oil on the food side only) piece of wood - directly over the coals or heating element. Cover the grill, and cook to desired doneness. [Example: It takes about 8-10 minutes to cook a whole small fish, or fish filet or fish steak.]

Test for doneness: Foods cooked on thicker pieces of wood will require more cooking time than food cooked on roof shingles; thicker food items take longer than thinner ones; the temperature of the barbeque will impact length of cooking time.

Serve: Remove the wood (with the food on it) using a long-handled spatula. If the wood catches fire, you can douse the flare-up with your water squirt-bottle, OR just let it burn itself out. Place the wood with the cooked food on a heat-proof serving platter."
--Copyright © 2002 Melinda Lee
Source: MelindaLee.com

White Asparagus

The asparagus plant belongs to the Liliaceous family (Lilaceae), which consists of approximately 150 different varieties. Only one variety, Asparagus officinalis, is cultivated for consumption. White asparagus is more expensive due to the fact that it is harvested by hand. The asparagus stalks are covered as they grow. This prevents the chemical interaction with the sun known as photosynthesis, which creates the chlorophyll that turns the plant green.

Salmon on a Cedar Plank
with White Asparagus and Blood Orange Vinaigrette

From Chef Michael Rossi


Fresh Salmon on the grill

Ingredients

1 large side - Salmon cut into pieces
10 each - Blood Oranges
2 Bundles - White Asparagus
1 each - Shallot (small)
2 cups - Extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch - Chervil*, chopped
3 tablespoons - Apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup - Honey
to taste - Salt and Pepper
zest - From three of the Blood Oranges

Preparation

For the Salmon

  • Juice 7 of the blood oranges and place into a small saucepan and reduce the juice by ½.

  • Section the remaining 3 blood oranges and reserve the segments on the side.

  • To make a glaze for the salmon, add the honey to a small saucepan and heat the honey until it starts to bubble, but not burn.

  • Add in 1/3 of the reserved blood orange juice that has been reduced.  Take off the stovetop and allow to cool.

  • Dip each of the pieces of salmon into the glaze and place onto the cedar plank.  Also dip each of the sections of blood orange into the glaze and place 3 sections on top of each piece of salmon. Place the cedar plank into the oven and broil for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked to medium.

Blood Orange Vinaigrette

  • Add the remaining 2/3 of the reduced blood orange juice to a blender along with 1 shallot, a pinch of chopped chervil, vinegar, salt and pepper, the zest from three of the oranges and enough extra virgin olive oil to emulsify the vinaigrette.

White Asparagus

  • Peel the asparagus and place into salt ice water for 1 hr to remove any of the bitterness.

  • Remove and blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water until tender and cool immediately in ice water.

  • Marinate in extra virgin olive oil, chervil and salt and pepper.

  • Serve either warm or cold.

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Interesting Facts!

Types of Salmon

Atlantic: Grow nearly as large as the King Salmon. Mostly farm raised. Approximate fat by weight: 11.5%

King (Chinook): The largest of the species and the most prized, with an average weight of 20 pounds known for its red flesh, rich flavor, high oil content and firm texture. Most often served in upscale, white tablecloth restaurants. Approximate fat by weight: 11%

Sockeye: The flesh is reddest of the species. Second to the King in expense, retains the distinctive deep red color when cooked. Its high oil content gives the Sockeye a moist texture and rich, complex flavor. Has long been the salmon of choice of quality-conscious Japanese markets. Approximate fat by weight: 9%

Coho (Silver): The second largest salmon most frequently found on restaurant menus. The silver or Coho is known for its orange-red flesh, superior texture and versatility. It is one of the most common used species in food service. These salmon tend to range from eight to ten pounds. Approximate fat by weight: 6%

Chum (Keta): A delicately flavored fish with a moderate fat content, and firm pink flesh. Chum salmon average about nine pounds. Strong food service demand; used in almost every market segment. Caught late in the fishing season, chum is the palest in color. Approximate fat by weight: 4%.

Pink: The availability of pink salmon make them the most affordable and the species of choice for canning. The smallest of the six varieties, the pink is known for its light rose-colored delicate flavor. Their abundance supply makes them an attractive value. They average between two and three pounds. Approximate fat by weight: 3.5%
Source: Jer's Woodful Things


Blood Orange

The Blood Orange, so named because of with its sweet, deep red colored flesh, most likely was the result of a mutation that occurred in 17th century Sicily. Blood Oranges are generally available from California from December to Mid-March.