We are on the cusp of my favourite weekend. Barbecues will be a-blazin' - the aroma of grilled meat will be wafting throughout neighbourhoods all across the country. I'm all up for a nice juicy rib-eye, ideally if the cow was raised locally and ate lots of good things. Same goes for a burger - layered with bacon, caramelized onions and smoky cheddar. I'm a huge fan of grilled chicken too - with lots of lemon and garlic, and if I'm going meatless, I love those huge portabellos, stuffed with goat cheese and herbs, grilled in all of their veggie glory. The only way I'll eat a hot dog is if it's grilled over an open fire, preferably at the lake, camping under the stars. It has to be slathered with onions and sauerkraut and mustard, washed down with something cool and frothy. My ultimate favourite thing to grill though, is fish. Fish on the barbecue is insanely delicious, super quick, and super good for you.
Saskatchewan is a land-locked province, and finding good fish, well, it's a quest in itself. Most comes in previously frozen, and it costs an arm and a leg. The sockeye I used was frozen and pretty good, but Oh to live near the ocean! How I adore fresh Halibut and Sockeye. But we have plenty of fresh water lakes in Sask, and the fish (pickerel, trout) is pretty phenomenal...I just need to get myself to the market to stock up...or else I just need to find myself a nice fisherman...
This recipe is a culmination of all things lovely and Canadian. You have your rhubarb, which grows in almost every backyard across this great land of ours. Maple syrup, that's pretty self explanatory. Saskatchewan produces and exports a massive amount of mustard. Funny, our mustard is shipped to France to make Dijon, then shipped around the world. The chipotle adds some flava, and a nice bite of heat. This is a variation on a recipe I saw in one of my favourite cookbooks - "High Plains" by Cinda Chavich. I didn't have any rhubarb syrup, so I just cooked down some rhubarb (I have so much - it's out of control!) with a little sugar, strained it, and proceeded, by adding lime juice, maple syrup and the smoky chipotles. Marinated for only an hour or two, the fish had killer flavour. It only takes a few minutes on each side, so be careful not to over grill it...I got distracted by a phone call (damn telemarketers!) hence mine was a teeny tiny bit overcooked, but delicious nonetheless. Stay by your grill and don't move!
I'm super proud of my greens. Nothing tastes better than fresh picked lettuce. I made a salad with grape tomatoes, dried cranberries, loads of fresh dill and sliced radishes from the garden. AND a decent amount of goat cheese. My vinaigrette was equal amounts olive oil and rice vinegar, with a drizzle of maple syrup and a dollop of Dijon. Salt and pepper to taste. Salad and salmon, eaten under my umbrella, in the shade of my apple tree. It's the best.
This is the time of year for kids to run through sprinklers; for adults to crack open cans of their favourite beverage and sit around bonfires; for road trips to be undertaken and for gazing at fireworks in night sky. I have a little bit of work to get out of the way, then I'll be taking in the sights and sounds of the Jazz Festival (Tegan and Sara!) under the bright blue Saskatchewan sky. Reacquainting myself with my hammock and a super juicy novel, is also on my "must do" list. So whatever you do, drive safely, apply sunscreen and eat something delicious!
Rhubarb & Chipotle Grilled Salmon
1/2 cup chopped rhubarb
1/4 cup white sugar
4 sockeye salmon fillets
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped (or more if you like it spicier)
Place chopped rhubarb in saucepan with sugar. Cook over medium heat, until soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool for a bit, then strain out the solids.
To the rhubarb puree, add lime juice etc. Stir well. Adjust seasonings. Place salmon in a glass dish, pour marinade over fish. Refrigerate for 1 - 2 hours. Preheat grill, grease it a bit. Place salmon, skin side down, and grill for a few minutes, each side. The rule of thumb is ten minutes cooking time per inch of fish. Serve with salad, or roasted vegetables and potatoes. Garnish with more dill!