Wild at Heart
Pairing cedar plank salmon with Oregon Pinot Noir
Salmon cooked on a cedar plank is a west coast tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Alex Sokol Blosser from Oregon’s Sokol Blosser Winery says it’s more than that. “It is soul food because salmon was the main food source for the Native Americans in Western Oregon,” he explains. “The wild runs in the spring and fall were and still are followed by local fisherman and the local restaurants that serve this fish when it is in season.” Sokol Blosser is an advocate of this natural attitude. That’s why wild salmon and a side of sautéed chanterelle mushrooms is his favourite Pinot match. It doesn’t get more quintessentially Pacific Northwest than that.
Why it Works
The slightly smoky, slightly sweet mix of cooking salmon on a cedar plank matches the Oregon Pinot Noir qualities perfectly. Pinot Noir also has the rich texture to stand up to this flavourful fish. “It is a perfect match because the fat and oils in the salmon (as long as you do not overcook it) pair so nicely with the acid in our Pinot Noir or Pinot Noir from Oregon for that matter,” says Sokol Blosser.
White wine with fish, red wine with meat is a rule meant to be broken. “This is just a very simple generalization,” Sokol Blosser says. “One could use a hearty sauce on a white fish that would pair better with a red wine and a steak tartare dish that would go great with a white. Sometimes it works better to pair the wine with the sauce and spices you are cooking the meat and fish with, than with the protein itself.”
Cedar Planked Salmon Recipe
Courtesy of the Oregon Salmon Commission (oregonsalmon.org)
Planked salmon is a method of cooking and smoking salmon that has been used for many years. Make sure to use natural red cedar (no preservatives). The salmon is slow cooked, which produces a rich, smoky flavour.
24 x 8 x 1 inch untreated cedar plank
6 (4 oz.) salmon filets
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
1. Submerge untreated cedar plank in water. Soak 12 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat an outdoor grill to high heat. Place prepared plank on the grill and sprinkle with coarse salt. Cover grill and heat plank 2-3 minutes, until dry. Adjust grill temperature for medium heat.
3. Rub salmon filets with olive oil. Arrange on plank. Top salmon with onion, lemon slices and whatever spices you enjoy on salmon.
4. Cook salmon, covered, 20-30 minutes or until opaque and easily flaked with a fork.