Grilled Salmon with Ancho-Honey-Porter Glaze
Adapted from recipe by Clayton Jones, Executive Chef, Bear Tooth Grill, 1230 W. 27th Avenue, Anchorage; Alaska Cook-Off Winner, Savor Bristol Bay, www.savebristolbay.org
Chef Clayton pairs rich sockeye salmon with a glaze made of sweet honey, spicy chiles, and bitter Porter beer. The combination is inspired. Honey balances heat and bitterness, but is used sparingly, leaving the glaze with plenty of lip-smacking spice. Covering the grill for the final cooking time helps set the glaze and melt it into the fish. Use stainless steel bowl(s) to cover the salmon fillets if you don’t have a cover for your grill.
2 pounds salmon fillets, skin on
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. ‘Recado’ Chile Sauce (see recipe below)
3 Tbsp. fireweed honey, or other mild-flavored honey
6 Tbsp. Porter beer
Fresh Herb Basting Brush:
1 sprig rosemary, 3 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs parsley, cotton twine
Start fire or turn on grill.
Wash salmon and dry it well. Using needle-nosed pliers, remove pin-bones (find bones by lightly running fingers over surface of fish). Season salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Brush both sides with oil.
Mix ingredients for glaze in small bowl. Cut herbs into 4” lengths, form into bouquet, and tie tightly together with cotton twine. Bruise herbs with back of knife to release essential oils (don’t hit herbs too hard or you’ll break them into pieces).
Preheat grate, making sure both it and fire are hot. Cook fillets, skin-side up, for 4-5 minutes. Turn fish and immediately coat cooked side with Ancho Honey Porter Glaze using herb bouquet as basting brush. Close grill (or cover salmon with stainless steel bowl) and cook for 2-4 minutes or until salmon is just done (be careful not to overcook or fish will be dry; the exact cooking time depends on thickness of fish). Serve immediately.
NOTE: For those without the time or inclination to make their ‘Recado’ Chile Sauce, Chef Clayton suggests buying canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (I prefer Goya brand) and pureeing them. Substitute 1-3 Tbsp. chipotle adobo puree for 3 Tbsp. ‘Recado’ sauce. Pureed chipotles in adobo are much, much spicier, and not nearly as flavorful, as ‘Recado’ sauce, but are definitely faster and easier to use.
‘Recado’ Chile Sauce
Makes 2 cups
2 ounces dried ancho chiles (about 6 chiles)
1 ounce dried chipotle chiles (about 8 chiles)
1 1/2 cups water
8-10 cloves garlic, peeled (about 1 head)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. dried Mexican oregano
Preheat oven to 325°F. Fill a bowl large enough to hold all the chiles with water.
Spread chiles on baking sheet and put in oven until you can smell chiles cooking, about 5-8 minutes. Don’t walk away from oven; if chiles cook too long and burn (which can happen quickly), they are garbage. (If chiles are burnt, don’t use in sauce; they will ruin it.) Remove chiles from oven, and put in prepared bowl of water. Soak chiles in water for at least 15 minutes. Break off and discard stems.
Put chiles in blender with 1 1/2 cups water, garlic, salt, and oregano. Blend until very smooth, adding more water if necessary to get desired consistency (sauce shouldn’t be watery, but also shouldn’t be like a paste). If blender isn’t powerful enough to completely break down chile seeds and skin, run sauce through food mill or sieve. (Reason #492 to buy a Vita-Mix: it breaks seeds and skin down to the cellular level, making silky smooth sauces.)