Park Palates: Pine-Smoked & Maple-Glazed Wild Salmon

Pine-Smoked & Maple-Glazed Wild Salmon - Image courtesy Abrams Books.If you're looking for a way to spruce up your usual camping meals, you'll want to give this tasty, yet relatively easy recipe a try. This recipe for Pine-Smoked & Maple-Glazed Wild Salmon comes from  Campfire Cookery: Adventuresome Recipes and Other Curiosities for the Great Outdoors.

For all the robustness of the ingredients of this dish, the end result is notably delicate. One might ask, “Oh, but won’t the bracing scent of pine make the dish taste of Christmas fir or, worse, freshly waxed parlor?” It will not. The smoked needles impart a light, balsamic flavor akin to rosemary (indeed one might substitute a bundle of that herb in this recipe), and the light glaze allows the pine flavor to shine through. The overall effect proves an excellent complement to the moist, flaky fish this cooking technique yields. Should one desire a more intensely flavored glaze, one might make a bit extra to brush over the fish before serving.

Ingredients

1 to 2 large handfuls green pine needles

1/2 cup bourbon

1/2 cup grade-B, freshly tapped maple syrup

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons freshly milled black pepper

Four 6-ounce salmon fillets, patted dry

Kosher salt, to taste

One 9-inch round wire cooling rack

Instructions

1. Prepare a medium-high-heat fire, with the flames occasionally licking the grill grate. Let it burn for at least 30 minutes. Whilst the fire heats, soak the pine needles in the bourbon.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the syrup, mustard, and pepper. Season the salmon generously with salt and coat with the glaze.

3. Place a large cast-iron skillet upon the grill grate. Let it heat until very hot. Using tongs or one’s own gloved hand, press the needles into the bottom of the skillet, taking care not to drizzle combustible bourbon into the flames, and place the rack on top of the needles. Place the fish on top of the rack and cover the pan. Cook until the fish is just opaque, about 15 minutes for medium. Serve, brushed with additional glaze, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

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Image courtesy Abrams Books.