Although the weather forecasters in our New England town are predicting rain during much of the long Memorial Day weekend, that’s not going to stop me from pulling out the grill. If I have to cook under an umbrella, I’m determined to kick off the unofficial beginning of summer with some delectable barbecued fare. In fact, I’ve already planned the menu. Barbecued Salmon Fillets with a Mahogany Glaze, a long-time favorite recipe, will be the centerpiece of our grilled meal, accompanied by sides of creamy cole slaw and fresh asparagus sprinkled with some fleur de sel.
A simple marinade made with only four ingredients–dark molasses, soy sauce, fresh chopped ginger, and lime juice– turns these salmon fillets into something extra special. While the fish is marinating for an hour or more, some of the marinade is transferred to a saucepan and quickly reduced to a rich, dark syrupy glaze.
The salmon, which cooks quickly—usually in less than 15 minutes– on a hot grill, is brushed with the glistening glaze once taken off the fire. You’ll need to be vigilant and keep an eye on the fillets so that they don’t overcook, but you’ll be rewarded with fish that is moist, juicy, and striking with its burnished mahogany hue. The following recipe serves four, but you can double or triple it for large holiday celebrations!
Barbecued Salmon Fillets with a Mahogany Glaze
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup molasses, preferably unsulfured molasses (see note)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
Four 7- to 8- ounce salmon fillet slices, cut 3/4 to 1-inch thick
Canola or olive oil
Lime wedges or slices for garnish
1. Combine the soy sauce, molasses, lime juice, and ginger in a small bowl, and whisk to blend. Reserve 1/3 cup of this mixture for the glaze, and pour the rest in a shallow nonreactive dish. Run your fingers over salmon and remove any bones you touch with clean tweezers. Place the fish, flesh side down in the marinade, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Marinate at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.
2. While the salmon is marinating, place the reserved marinade in a small, heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Cook, stirring, until mixture has reduced to a syrupy glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside at room temperature.
3. To grill the salmon, oil the grill rack generously, and arrange it 4 to 5 inches from the heat source. Oil the skin of the fillets. When grill is hot, place the fillets, skins side down, on the grill. If your grill has a lid, cover with the vents open or tent the fish loosely with foil. Cook until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily when pierced with a sharp knife, about 10 to 14 minutes or more. Watch carefully since the cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of the fish and the intensity of the heat. When done, use a metal spatula to remove salmon from the grill. If desired, with a sharp knife cut off and discard the skins.
4. Brush the tops of the salmon fillets with the glaze and serve them with lime wedges or slices for squeezing over. Serves 4.
Note: Both sulfured and unsulfured molasses are available. The latter is lighter and has a cleaner flavor.
Adapted from The Big Book of Backyard Cooking by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books 2004)
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