When we were searching for a caterer for our wedding, we looked no further than our own savory kitchen and backyard BBQ. Inspired by a traditional Mediterranean marinade for fish that features many fresh herbs, olive oil and lemon, over time we have discovered that this is our favorite marriage of garden and sea.
The salmon needs to marinate for an hour or two, and our two favorite ways of cooking the salmon are BBQ on a cedar plank or broiled in an oven. We usually choose to use the cedar planks because the smoldering cedar wood smokes the salmon, which adds great umami character, and the fish never touches the flames, so it’s incredibly moist and juicy. This marinade is simple to make and the high oil content of the salmon is very forgiving using either cooking method… so the result is beautiful and always a crowd pleaser. So many times folks have said that it’s the best BBQ fish they have ever had. Just stick it on the BBQ or under the broiler… and then get back to the fun! Enjoy!
1 large filet of salmon, 3 to 4 pounds
5-7 cloves of fresh garlic or we sometimes use a whole oven roasted head of garlic
3-4 lemons, juiced (at least 1/2 a cup)
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 heaping tablespoon dried Mediterranean or Greek oregano
2 teaspoon crushed dried red peppers
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon mirin or 1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup olive oil
The fresh herbs:
Oregano – 4 twigs
Dill – ¼ – ½ cup
Basil – ½ – 1 cup
Cilantro – ½ – 1 cup
Parsley – ½ cup
Mint – ½ – 1 cup
These fresh herb measurements can be reduced or increased depending upon preference and availability, as well as size of the filet.
In a food processor, chop up all the garlic first, then add all the fresh herbs, dried oregano and crushed red peppers. Mix well on pulse until herbs are finely chopped and integrated with the garlic, then add the cracked pepper. In a small bowl mix the lemon juice with the mirin, or sugar, and the salt. Turn on the food processor and add this to the mixture, then add the Worcestershire and soy sauces. Finally, add the olive oil, preferably from a narrow pour spout, so that it’s gradual and the mixture forms a nice consistency.
Salt and pepper the salmon on both sides, place in a long narrow pan, (we use Pyrex) and pour the marinade over and under the fish, coating both sides. Marinate for 1 to 2 hours.
Soak the cedar plank (or planks) in cold water for at least half an hour. We use Red Cedar planks that are 15 “ by 5.25”, ordered on Amazon from Western Cedar Grilling.
Carefully lay the salmon on the soaked cedar plank, trimming to size of plank, and place on the BBQ grill, which has already been heated on high for 10 minutes. Turn all the burners to low and close the lid. The salmon cooks on the moist wood, never touching the flame, which seals in the flavors. And as the planks smolders on the bottom, the smoke fills the BBQ.
The smoldering bottom of the plank will effectively smoke the fish. After 15 or 20 minutes, the salmon will look toasty. Please don’t try to flip it over, it’s perfectly cooked, moist, and explosively flavorful.
Carefully remove the plank with filet on top from the BBQ with two paddles and serve directly on the plank. It’s efficient and festive. Serve with grilled baby asparagus or vegetables marinated in balsamic vinegar. One of our favorite veggie side dishes with this feast is fresh broccoli steamed with a little lemon and butter, along with some fresh BBQ corn on the cob.
You can also simply broil the salmon in the oven, we use aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Broil only one side until is it quite toasty and crispy and carmelized, which brings out the flavors, allowing the marinade to serve as a basting sauce. Either way, this is as close as we’ve gotten to a sure thing when family and loved ones gather for a family feast.