cedar-planked salmon sliders with quick pickled veg for the big game
While I’m not a die-hard football fan, I do like to entertain. So, I use the Super Bowl as an excuse to explore the regional cuisines from the teams’ hometowns and serve up that fare at our annual Super Bowl celebration. Monday, I showcased New England and today it’s Seattle!
So you think Seattle — you think coffee, right? Maybe seafood — a little dungeness crab or salmon? And Washington State puts out some incredible wines. What to do, what to do.
Since I did pizza for New England, I decided sliders would be appropriate for Seattle. Not beef sliders, but SALMON! Plank-smoked salmon fillets. Slathered with a coffee-infused barbecue sauce. I was hungry just thinking about it.
The plan was taking shape! I enlisted Scott’s help for smoking the fish — he is my grill-master after all. He was happy to participate as long as he could enjoy a man-beverage while he monitored the flames. Done! As the cedar plank was soaking, I assembled the barbecue sauce and some quick-pickled onions and cucumbers (the pickles were Scott’s genius idea).
And they were so simple to make – I just sliced the vegetables and poured a hot brine over them.
While the pickles soaked, I sliced the salmon into slider-sized chunks and Scott started the Weber. As the grill reached the critical temperature, he placed the plank on top of the grates and closed the lid. He flipped it once (to minimize bowing) and as it crackled over the fire, the fragrant white smoke curled into the air. It was time for the salmon.
Toward the end of cooking, he liberally brushed the salmon with the tangy-sweet coffee infused barbecue sauce and let the glaze set in.
After that, it took all of our will-power not to devour the sliders before I could take a few pictures.
These are so freaking good! Tender, lightly smoked salmon fillets, with a slightly sweet, tangy, spicy barbecue glaze, paper thin pickled onions and cucumbers, fresh cilantro and creamy coleslaw — all on a slider roll. OMG! If Seattle plays as good as these taste, the game is in the bag!
Good luck to the Seahawks! Can’t wait for game time!
cedar-planked salmon sliders
for the barbecue sauce
- 1 cup diced white onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 jalapeño pepper minced - for spicy sauce use the seeds, for less spice, discard them
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup strong coffee
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
for the pickled onions and cucumbers
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 allspice berries
- 1 jalapeño pepper thinly sliced
- 1 cucumber thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
for the salmon
- 2 pounds skin-on Atlantic salmon fillets about 3/4"-1" thick
- 1 cedar plank
- java barbecue sauce or other barbecue sauce recipe given
- fresh cilantro
- slider buns
2 hours before cooking the salmon, submerge the cedar plank in water.
In a small saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and stir, cooking until onions are tender and slightly translucent. Add jalapeño, chili powder and cumin, stir and cook for a minute until warm and fragrant. Add the tomatoes, coffee, brown sugar, molasses, garlic powder and salt. Stir to combine. Heat to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by at least half - about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the worcestershire sauce and vinegar.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a blender and puree until smooth. Can be made up to a week ahead.
for the quick pickled onions and cucumber
In a 2 cup glass measuring cup or microwaveable bowl, heat the cider vinegar in the microwave on high for two minutes until very hot. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the allspice berries.
Place the jalapeño, cucumber and red onion in a bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables and let sit until the liquid has cooled to room temperature. Drain all but 1/2 cup of liquid. Refrigerate the pickled vegetables until ready to use.
for the salmon
Using a sharp knife, cut the salmon into 2"squares to fit the slider buns.
Heat the grill to 450 degrees. When the grill has heated place the soaked cedar plank on the grill and heat for 3-5 minutes on each side until it starts to smoke. (White smoke is what you're looking for -- not black -- black smoke means burning -- keep a water bottle nearby for flare-ups).
When the plank is smoking place the salmon, skin side down onto the plank and close the lid. Monitor the grill to maintain the temperature at 450 degrees and to watch for flare-ups, but don't fuss with the salmon. Cook the salmon fillets for 8-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fillets and the desired doneness).
Brush top and sides of salmon with the barbecue sauce and cook for 1-2 minutes more, until the sauce has glazed the salmon. Remove from heat.
build the sandwiches
Put a spoonful of coleslaw on the bottom bun. Add pickled vegetables and cilantro. Place salmon on top of vegetables and add additional barbecue sauce and cilantro if desired.