Several weeks ago at a summer buffet, I was dazzled by a roasted fillet of salmon that was part of the main-course offerings. Served whole, the fish had a rich, golden brown exterior and light, juicy flesh beneath. After a few bites, I found one of the hosts and asked how the salmon had been prepared. "Oh, we just brushed the fillet with soy sauce and then cooked it," she quickly replied before rushing to attend to other entertaining tasks.
Days later, I decided to try the technique myself, but when I telephoned to ask if any other ingredients had been used I learned that my friends were out of town. I remembered a sauce made with soy sauce, dark molasses, ginger, garlic and vinegar, which I often use for pork; maybe a revised version would work on salmon. I combined soy sauce with molasses, lime juice and fresh ginger and used most of this mixture as a marinade, then reduced the remainder into a thick, syrupy glaze for coating the fish after grilling.
I was so enthusiastic about this new dish that I invited another couple to try the salmon with us. They offered to bring coleslaw and a blueberry pie, and I bought summer green beans and corn on the cob to complete our menu.
Makes 4 servings
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 / 4 cup molasses, if possible, unsulfured molasses
1 tablespoon lime juice
4 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1 (2- to 2 1/2 -pound) salmon fillet
1 lime, thinly sliced, for garnish
Combine soy sauce, molasses, lime juice and ginger in small nonreactive bowl and whisk to blend. Reserve 1/3 cup for glaze. Pour rest in shallow nonreactive dish.
Place salmon on work surface and run fingers over flesh and remove any bones you feel with clean tweezers. Place salmon, flesh side down, in marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, place reserved marinade in small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until mixture is reduced to syrupy glaze, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside at room temperature.
When ready to cook salmon, prepare grill. Oil rack well and arrange 4 to 5 inches from heat source. When fire is ready, place salmon, skin side down, on grill and cook 10 minutes. If you have grill with lid, cover grill with lid (with vents open) after first 10 minutes. Otherwise, tent salmon loosely with foil.
Continue to cook until flesh is opaque and flakes easily when pierced with sharp knife and edges of salmon are browned, 10 to 15 minutes more or longer. Watch carefully as cooking time can vary depending on thickness of fish and intensity of heat. When done, remove salmon from grill and with sharp knife cut off and discard skin.
Arrange salmon on heated serving platter and brush top of fish with glaze. Garnish top of salmon with lime slices. Cut into 4 equal pieces.
Note: To roast salmon, arrange rack at center position and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place salmon on foil-lined baking sheet and cook until flesh is opaque and flakes easily when pierced with sharp knife, 10 to 14 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.
ELIZABETH LARGE is on vacation. Her restaurant review will return Sept. 10.