Sunday, July 24, 2011

Salmon, Cedar, Watermelon, and the Grill

Summertime is heating up around the country.  In Texas we are around 105 degrees each day.  When the temperatures rise we take our cooking outdoors.  Air conditioning is a luxury we do not wish to spoil with dinner cooking in a hot oven.  We purchased a grill earlier in the year and it is getting more use with each passing hot day.  This Sunday's fare was part necessity and part inspiration.

My son announced during the week that he had a project he would like to do.  I asked him what it was and he said, with pride, "I want to build a birdhouse."  On Saturday we went to Home Depot with an internet blueprint for a birdhouse made from one 6 inch wide cedar fence plank.  We built the birdhouse. The byproduct of this activity was a leftover cedar plank. Now it was time for Dad's project.

I went to my favorite local grocer and purchased a two pound wild Alaskan salmon fillet to grill on the leftover plank.  I love grilling salmon on cedar because the smokey flavor is fantastic and cleanup involves nothing more than throwing a charred board away.

Wild salmon has a wonderful flavor and requires little seasoning.  The smoke from the cedar plank does most of the flavor work. I mixed a couple tablespoons of olive oil with a tablespoon of lemon juice and two cloves of crushed garlic.  I rubbed this into the fillet before grilling.

To prepare the board I soaked it in water for about 10 hours, the longer the better.  I then placed the board on the grill on high heat and closed the lid for approximately five minutes so it can start smoking.

Once the board is smoking I placed the fillet on the board (skin side down) and closed the lid.  I reduced the heat to medium and allowed it to cook approximately 20 - 25 minutes, until the Salmon was flaky but still moist.

The cedar plank caught fire a few times while grilling so I kept a squeeze bottle of water close to douse the flames and re-moisten the board. At the end I smelled like a campfire, but the result was worth it.

More inspiration came from an daily recipe for grilled watermelon salad. I'm linking to the website, because I love it, but not the recipe because I made significant adjustments. Here is my recipe:

For Dressing:
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Combine the above ingredients and then toss with one Bunch fresh Watercress (stems removed and loosely chopped).

Grilling Watermelon:
Cut the seedless watermelon into twelve 1 inch thick slices (3 per salad). Remove rinds and brush both sides lightly with olive oil. On high heat place the watermelon directly on the grill and grill for two minutes and then flip and grill for two minutes on the other side.

Assembly (4 salads):
Place three slices of grilled watermelon on each plate.  Top each stack of grilled watermelon with 1/4 of the dressed watercress. drizzle remaining dressing over each salad.  Top with sprinkle of crumbled Feta cheese.

We also made herbed red potatoes as another side dish.  As an added bonus the kids made fresh butter earlier in the day as part of a church activity.  We added the freshly churned butter to the potatoes for a wonderfully fresh creamy flavor.

The kids liked the salmon, tolerated the grilled watermelon, and mostly nourished themselves on the buttered potatoes and the organic lemonade mom bought while dad was buying fish.  Regardless, it was a wonderful summer meal without ever turning on the oven.


  1. Show off. What? It's not enough that you're an attorney and a writer? You have to be a gourmet chef, too?

  2. Robin - Cooking came first, I started making quiche when I was 10. The attorney and ASPIRING writer came after that so I guess that is the showing off part. Although, neither of those taste very good. :)

  3. That looks perfect! Am I a bad person if I reuse my cedar planks again? Wait, maybe that just means I am cheap.

  4. Wow! Grilled watermelon? That sounds great! I'd love to try it.

  5. Katie - It was wonderful and you should definitely try it. I just popped over to your blog. Great site. I'll definitely be trying some of those recipes.