A few years ago, I read about cedar sheets for cooking in the dining section of the New York Times and decided they would be great for grilling salmon. A box of 100 sheets cost seventy-two dollars from Karin Japanese Trading Company in New York. Even though it was a lot of sheets and they were rather costly, I ordered a box, justifying the purchase as a professional expense. I wanted to share this recipe, but I felt I couldn't because of both the quantity and the price. Then, one day while I was browsing on the Internet, I saw a Web site that sold the sheets in smaller quantities better suited for the home cook. (See the Cook's Note below for details). I'm delighted to include this recipe; it's easy for a weeknight and an eye-catching presentation for entertaining.
Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on medium.
Soak the cedar paper sheets in warm water until pliable, 5 to 10 minutes.
Generously brush the salmon fillets on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Lay 2 thyme sprigs and 2 rosemary sprigs on each fillet, pressing them lightly so they adhere to the flesh. Arrange 2 lemon slices, overlapping them slightly, over the top of the herbs on each fillet.
Place the 4 sheets of soaked cedar on a work surface. Place a salmon fillet in the center of each sheet, parallel to the grain of the wood. Cut 8 long strips from the green tops of the onions to use as ties. Working with 1 cedar sheet at a time, bring up the sides to encase the piece of salmon, forming a tube and overlapping the edges if possible. Wrap a long strip of green onion around the tube about one-third of the way down from the top edge, and tie it gently to secure the tube. Wrap another strip of green onion about one-third of the way up from the bottom edge and tie it. Repeat to secure the other packets.
Oil the grill grate. Use tongs to arrange the cedar packets, edge side up, directly over the medium fire and cover. Grill until the packets begin to smoke and crackle, about 4 minutes. Turn the packets over, re-cover the grill, and "toast" the other side until the salmon is almost opaque throughout but still very moist when tested with a knife, or an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125° to 130°F, 3 to 4 minutes longer.
Using tongs, transfer the salmon packets to warmed dinner plates. Snip the onions with a knife and use the tongs to open the packets and unroll the wood sheets. Serve immediately.
Cedar sheets are pliable, smooth, and paper-thin, They come in 6-inch squares, just the right size to enclose a single serving of salmon. The sheets must be soaked in water to minimize charring and to become pliable before they can be placed on the grill grate. You can use either a couple of long green onion tops or leek greens, depending on the recipe, to secure a cedar-sheet package closed, The sheets, also called cedar grilling papers, can be ordered in small quantities online from www.barbecuewood, com, or you can order them in larger quantities from www.korin.com. (See Sources, page 220 of the book).
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This page created August 2008
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