A simple dish that you can do almost completely ahead of time. This is our adaptation of a dish by Chef Brett Knipmeyer whose restaurant in Anchorage Alaska, Kinley's, is named after his daughter. We found it in The New Alaska Cookbook by Kim Severson and Glenn Denkler which we appropriately purchased somewhere in Alaska.
Just make sure to get the best fish you can find. It makes all the difference. Alexander's can provide great seafood!
Grilled King Salmon on Tasso Cornbread with Blueberry Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 TB neutral oil like corn or canola
3 TB red wine vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
1 TB honey
1/4 cup Beef Stock or beef bouillon
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3 TB neutral oil (like canola or corn)
5 oz tasso ham, diced into 1/4" cubes more or less (see notes)
1 cup yellow onion, diced
3/4 cup diced fresh red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced fresh hot red pepper (optional, see notes)
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 TB granulated suger
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk or reconsituted buttermilk powder or buttermilk substitute (see notes)
4 TB (1/2 stick) butter, melted.
4 king salmon fillets (6 oz each, but we're fine with 7 or 8oz). See notes.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Cornbread:
Preheat your oven to 375 deg.F. Put 2 TB of the canola oil in an 8-inch square baking dish and put in the hot oven. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 2 TB of oil over medium heat in a skillet then add the ham, onion, and red bell pepper and cook until the onion is translucent (but not browned), about 12 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Then add that mixture and the cornmeal to the bowl with the cooked vegetables and stir or whisk until well combined.
In another bowl or a large measuring cup whip together the buttermilk, egg and melted butter (the butter should not be hot or you will curdle the egg). Fold the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture until JUST combined. You don't want to overdo the mixing.
Carefully remove the heated baking dish (with the oil in it), placing it on a heatproof surface and add the batter. Return dish to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Don't overcook. You don't want to dry it out.
For the Sauce:
Heat the 1 TB of oil in a pot (preferably non-stick) over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft but not browned. About 6 minutes. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 30 minutes. If you feel the sauce has gotten too thick, add a bit of water. Set aside.
For the Salmon:
We like to take the fish out about 20 minutes before cooking. Pat it dry, put the salt and pepper on it and then let it rest. Most fish recipes work best when you can get a nice thick piece. Ours was about 1" thick. Grill the fish to your desired doneness. We often use a hot frying pan instead of a grill and leave the skin on. We add oil to the pan and get it really hot then put the fish in skin side down and cook till the skin is crisp. We then flip it over and fry for about 10 tp 15 seconds (you might prefer more). We like our fish medium rare and it will cook further on the hot plate we put it on.
Divide the cornbread into 4 pieces and place on the plate. Lean the fish skin side down against the cornbread and surround with the blueberry BBQ Sauce.
This recipe serves 4 but we had no trouble cutting everything in half. An 8-in square baking dish for the cornbread would be 64 square inches. We found a dish approximately half that size for our cornbread. You don't have to be exact! We made the sauce and the cornbread earlier in the day, reheating the sauce in a pot and the cornbread (carefully so as to not try it out) in a microwave. Since the fish takes only a few minutes to cook, this can be a fast and easy weeknight or special occasion dinner.
Tasso Ham: This is an ingredient that is hard to find, but you can always ask. We used a good smoked ham that we sprinkled cayenne over and mixed it up to give it some heat (we like heat). Some sort of meat is what makes the dish really good, but you can improvise.
Buttermilk: Not a common pantry item, but buttermilk powder is nice to have around. By the way buttermilk has no butter in it. No point in reinventing the wheel, here are six great ways to substitute in a pinch
Salmon: King Salmon is a somewhat oily fish and has a bit of a 'soft' character. Feel free to substitute other salmon (we're fond of Fresh Wild Sockeye) or the very sustainable Artic Char.
Peppers: We love heat. If you have or can get any fresh hot peppers (like Fresnos), dice them up and cook them in the vegetable mixture for the cornbread. We used about an extra 1/4 cup. It was great.
WINE SUGGESTION: A fairly hearty Pinot Noir.