Friday, July 11, 2014

Crusted cedar plank salmon and religious freedom

Cedar plank salmon is good in the oven or on the grill while it reminds us of religious freedom.

Cedar plank salmon
Cedar plank salmon | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak

Cedar planks are great cooking tools that add a great flavor to fish and chicken dishes. They smolder, giving the main course a smoked flavor to savor. Be sure you soak them for at least an hour before using. That gives you time to marinate your fish and prepare the rest of the ingredients.

The planks and the fish are reminders of some ancient religious symbols, particularly for Christians. Jesus was a carpenter who crafted with wood. The fish is one of Christianity’s earliest religious symbols, predating the cross. People of faith are free to peacefully express and rejoice in their faith. That is an individual natural right protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. It covers all faiths and all religions.

Crusted Cedar plank salmon

Ingredients (per serving):

Cedar plank(s)
Salmon fillet – 6 oz.
Balsamic vinegar – 3 tbsp
Lime juice – 3 tbsp
Orange juice – 1 cup
Garlic, minced – 1 tbsp
Bacon – 1/2 oz (approx. 1 slice)
Pineapple (pref. fresh) – 1/3 cup
Cilantro – 1 tbsp
Almonds, raw – 7 to 9
Chipotle, cayenne, ancho, or paprika powder – dust to taste
Nutritional quick facts: Approximately 45g protein, 9g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1400mg Omega-6, 4400mg Omega-3. (figures taken from data available at Self Nutrition Data)


Soak your cedar plank in filtered water for at least one hour. The longer it soaks, the better it smokes without flaring up and burning.
Cedar plank salmon | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak
Cedar plank salmon | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak
Combine marinade ingredients in a baking dish or large, deep tray. Place your salmon fillet(s) skin-up (meat down) into the marinade. Let it steep for 30 minutes to an hour. Too long will result in rubbery fish.

Place the crust ingredients into a food processor or sturdy blender. Blend until the ingredients are evenly dispersed and the almonds are chopped, but not ground to a meal.

Preheat the grill or oven. If using an oven, preheat to 450 degrees. If using a charcoal grill, you want your coals gray and glowing, evenly dispersed across the cooking area. If using a gas grill, preheat it on high for 10 minutes or so.

Place the salmon skin-down on the cedar plank. Cover the top with the crust mixture. Dust the top with the pepper/chili powder. Bake 30-40 minutes until the crust is brown, the bacon is thoroughly cooked, and fish has a flaky texture. On a grill, the cooking time will vary. Reduce the heat on gas grills to a medium-high, especially if using an IR grill. Important, cook covered! You want that smoky flavor to permeate the fish. Even on the grill, the cooking time is about 30 minutes.

Pairs well with a Pinot Noir or a Petit Syrrah, asparagus, and grilled new potatoes.

Cedar plank salmon | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak
Cedar plank salmon | PHOTO CREDIT: P-G Matuszak

Fish and Religious Freedom

The fish is one of the earliest symbols of Christianity. It dates back to the sermon on the mount when Jesus realized nobody bothered to pack a sandwich. One family offered to share a loaf of bread. Another offered to share their single fish. Jesus performed a miracle, multiplying the sacrificed food into an abundance for all.
It is difficult, these days, to spend a day outside of the house without seeing a “coexist” bumper sticker or t-shirt. However, some of those who don the apparel or slap the sticker onto their vehicle may not really mean the message they convey. The message is one of religious freedom and tolerance. However, that tolerance seems to be more and more rare as days pass.

Religious tolerance is a cornerstone the religious freedom protected by the First Amendment. By that amendment, a Christian can publicly display a cross or fish or other symbol without recourse. The same applies to Jews, especially those celebrating Passover. It extends to Muslims, should they gather in a public park to pray together. We don’t have to like other faiths or beliefs. We should, though, rejoice in the freedom to peacefully practice and display our faith.

There is a recent tale, uncorroborated, of a high school student. The young man completed his directed, independent study. While waiting for the rest of his class to finish, he pulled out his Bible. He quietly read, preparing for an evening Bible study class. A classmate, who also finished early, looked on, interested. Their substitute teacher confiscated the Bible. She disrupted the class to make a scene. She threw the book into the trash and scolded the two students for daring to quietly and respectfully practice their religion. Had this been a Koran, the incident may have made international news. Had it been a copy of the Taliesin, the substitute may have not known some regard it as a religious text, and not made as much of a scene.

That is not tolerance. It is not “coexistence”. It is religious persecution. As a nation, we have come too far to tolerate this sort of back-slide. We are better than that.

Author’s Note: Recipe by request of Brenner Brief News’ David Risselada.

Disclaimer: The author is not a medical doctor nor a currently registered dietitian. The information provided in this article is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to be interpreted as medical, nutritional or health advice. Please seek the advice of an expert before starting any new diet or exercise program.