Summer in the Northwest: Rainier cherries, peaches, salmon. Why not combine all three and take them along on a pretty hike? My husband and I recently took a morning off to do just that. He grilled the salmon while I made a stone fruit compote and red quinoa to go with it. We packed it up along with a carrot-raisin salad and cubed watermelon and hit the trail.
The Northwest forest is quite literally fueled by salmon. After they return to spawn, their bodies fertilize the big trees. What better food to enjoy among the big trees than king salmon?
The inspiration for this recipe is Matt Fanning’s Grilled Salmon with Stone Fruit Compote from his tenure at Seattle’s famous Elliott’s Oyster House. His recipe is compiled in the excellent Northwest Best Places Cookbook,Volume 2. I’ve made salmon accompanied by summer fruit several times, changing the herbs and fruits as I went along.
A darker-colored version with Bing cherries was quite pretty and would be even more striking with black plums as in the original recipe. Too bad I don’t really like plums. We settled on a light-colored version with peaches and Rainier cherries. It’s the tail end of cherry season, get ‘em before they’re gone.
We halved the peaches and grilled them. Other stone fruit like apricots or cling-stone peaches that don’t lend themselves to being cut in half and put on a grill rack can be cut up and grilled in a grill basket.
Our salmon marinades vary. This time my husband thought pineapple juice might go well with the fruit compote and added it to the marinade. I worried that the acidity might break down the salmon, but that did not happen and the result was moist and tender. See my Northwest Grilled Salmon post for a different marinade and detailed instructions on grilling the salmon.
- For the salmon:
- 1½ to 2 lbs. fresh wild salmon, in 4 filets
- ¼ cup gluten-free tamari
- ¼ cup pineapple juice or water
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 Tbsp. unrefined brown sugar (coconut palm, Muscovado, Sucanat, etc.)
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to brush on salmon before grilling
- For the compote:
- 1 lb. fresh stone fruit, we used free stone peaches.
- 6 oz. Rainier cherries, pitted and halved
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. basil, finely chopped
- pinch of cayenne (about 1/16 tsp.)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the quinoa:
- 1¼ cups red quinoa
- ½ tsp. salt
- Place tamari, pineapple juice or water, bourbon, garlic, and brown sugar into a gallon-sized ziplock bag.
- Add salmon filets to ziplock bag and marinate for several hours, turning several times if possible.
- Cook quinoa with water on stove or in rice cooker set to finish by your estimated mealtime.
- Preheat grill to medium, 350 F.
- Pit cherries, chop basil, cut peaches in half.
- Grill peaches for a few minutes on each side until grill marks show.
- Cut grilled peaches into smaller pieces.
- Combine cut grilled peaches with the cherries, basil, honey, cayenne, and pepper, set aside.
- Brush the salmon filet with the oil, then place the filet on the grill flesh side down.
- Cook for 5 minutes, turn over onto skin side and cook for an additional 4-6 minutes.
- Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the fish– cooking time for salmon tends to be a little less than the 10 minutes per inch that you hear for fish, more like 8 or 9 minutes.
- Serve salmon filets accompanied by the fruit compote and quinoa.