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Salmon with Sherry Tomato Sauce

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Rina Jordan

If you’re a foodie, there are dishes you’ve had in your life that never leave you, and in some cases, inspire you. In my senior year of high school, I was required to take an independent-study course in a subject of my choosing. I chose a culinary program where I had the chance to try the most delicious sherried tomato soup, and I never forgot how wonderful the flavors were together. Several years later (no need to discuss how many, exactly) those flavors motivated me to create this dish. A side of rice and a light green salad are perfect accompaniments.

Soaking the Plank

Start by using a clean, untreated piece of wood. Most of the wood planks sold in stores are 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Be sure to choose a plank that allows at least a 1-inch border around the food you are preparing. No matter the size, plan on soaking your plank for at least one hour, and up to twenty-four hours. This important step adds moisture that helps the wood to resist burning, which prolongs the use of your plank.

Place the plank in a kitchen sink, cooler, glass or ceramic baking dish, or any container large enough to fit it for soaking.

Soak the plank in water, or if you feel like being creative, try adding some white wine, beer, salt, or apple, berry, or citrus juice to the water.

Keep the plank submerged with something heavy, like a brick, so it stays weighted down during soaking.

Preheating the Plank

Preheating the plank before grilling is an important step. With woods like maple, oak, cherry, and alder, the plank will often begin to warp when placed over heat (cedar does not usually warp). Preheating the plank will control the warping, kill any bacteria on the cooking surface, and impart a more intense flavor to the food.

Before preheating the plank, have a spray bottle with water handy to smolder any flames if flare-ups occur.

For a gas grill, preheat your grill to medium-high, or about 400 degrees F. For a charcoal grill, prepare your grill for indirect cooking: Fill a chimney starter (charcoal chimney) to the top with charcoal. Light the charcoal and let it burn until half of the coals are glowing. Spread the coals onto half of the bottom of the grill, leaving the other side without coals (this is called the “indirect method”). Place the grill lid on top and fully open the top and bottom vents. If your grill does not have a thermometer, place a grill thermometer through one of the vent openings and let it sit for 5 minutes to get an accurate reading. If the grill gets too hot, close the vents partially and let the temperature adjust. Continue making adjustments to the vent openings until the grill reaches a consistent temperature of 400 degrees F.

For optimum smoke and wood flavor, place the plank 8 to 12 inches above the flame and close the grill lid. I prefer to place a plank on the warming rack of my gas grill for preheating and grilling. It takes a little longer to get it lightly toasted and get some smoke going (8 to 10 minutes), but it reduces the number of flare-ups so that you will get more uses out of the plank. If the plank is placed closer to the flame, you should see some light smoke after 3 to 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the grill if the plank is closer to the flame.

Once you see some light wisps of gray smoke emanating from the grill, open the grill lid and flip the plank over. If the plank has not bowed, you are ready to begin grilling. If warping occurs, close the lid again and continue preheating another minute or two until the plank flattens out. Continue flipping and heating the plank one or two more times until warping is controlled.

Makes4 servings

Cooking Methodgrilling

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentgrill

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturesavory, tangy

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 9 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 (1/2 pound) skinless salmon fillet

Instructions

  1. Soak the plank for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4, teaspoon of the pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sherry and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, and tarragon and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.

  3. Prepare the plank for grilling according to the instructions (see Notes). Season the salmon with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Place the salmon on the toasted side of the plank. Spoon the sauce evenly over the salmon and close the lid. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

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