BBQ Bonanza 2011 - Salt block grilled Salmon with Basil Butter

Photo credit: Denise Woodward, Chez Us

BBQ Bonanza continues with this our fifth guest post. The theme this year, our second, is Sustainability at the Grill. I thought it would be fun to see what our guest posters would come up with -- I have not been disappointed. I began this year's kickoff post with this:

"You're standing at your barbecue grill with a package of hot dogs and you're wondering "why don't I do something more original?" Or maybe you're thinking about where the beef in your burgers came from..."

Our guest poster this week touches on our theme by sharing her awakening to issues of sustainability when she moved from Chilean Sea Bass to wild Alaskan Salmon, and discovered her connection to the issue. I share her desire to treat the planet, not as if we inherited it from the previous generation; but rather, as if we borrowed it from the next.

Later this year, I'll be hosting the 5th annual Teach a Man to Fish - sustainable seafood event anniversary with cooking classes for kids. My hope is to build the next generation of ocean stewards and conscious cooks.

Denise is half of the blogging couple, Chez Us "she cooks, he devours", that counts as half, right Lenny? Her stories are lovely and the photos, even better. The photo above which I nabbed for our bonanza badge was taken by Denise and you may have seen her winning entry in Saveur Magazine - gorgeous! Read on and you'll see why these folks became good friends - thoughtful, delicious, beautiful - what more can I say but thank you? And enjoy!

Salt block grilled Copper River Salmon with Basil Butter

Guest Post: Denise Woodward, Chez Us

Summer is the ultimate grilling season. It doesn't matter where you may live, or the culture you come from, summer and grilling go hand-in-hand. Every season I chuckle to myself as I light up the grill for our first cookout; why don't we take advantage and do it more often throughout the year? Besides the obvious that food just tastes really good when it comes off the grill, it is also social and inviting, not to mention, minimal clean-up. We are lucky living in the Bay Area as our seasons are mild and we can take advantage. But, we still don't. We save our sacred recipes for a few precious months and then we tuck them away until the next year. Maybe it is a comfort thing, or maybe some habits are just hard to break.

I was thrilled when our friend Jackie asked us to join her for BBQ Bonanza 2011 as we had a great time last year exploring Mastering The Grill last summer. When I said yes, I could not wait to see what delicious cookbook she was going to expose us too. Little did I know she would be asking us to write about a topic that is true to her heart: sustainability.

The first time I "really" realized that I needed to try to make a difference in my eating lifestyle was some 20 years ago when I approached my fishmonger to purchase some Chilean Sea Bass. I had been enjoying it weekly, even thought I was on a beer budget. As my eyes searched the case hungrily for it, I was told it was no longer available. I made a joke about the fisherman not being able to find it. He came back saying that was absolutely true. I walked home with a bag of pasta and thought long and deep (no pun intended there) about what was happening. How could this happen? How could we be so careless? Overfishing our oceans? It was criminal.

When I think about sustainability, common sense comes to mind. Kind of like ... you leave your house, you turn off the lights and shut the door; excessive behaviors will result in a diminishment of luxuries. Just like that Chilean sea bass.  I took advantage of eating something so delicious, every week, and soon it was not available to me. We try to eat sustainably in our home by asking questions, such as where our food is coming from? How did it come to us? Could we make a better choice? Also by eating seasonally. Do we really need bright red strawberries in the middle of February, when they have been put on a plane from Peru just to land on my table?

We try to do our part. We are only two people, a small speck actually, but we try. We have to, as we want the younger generations, such as our nieces, nephews and MEM to grow into fine adults who care; who have a planet to live on, a planet to grow their families on. If we don't try, who will?

We recently received a lovely package of gorgeous fresh caught Copper River Salmon. Granted it does have to board a flight to get to us; but, the fish is harvested sustainably. The salmon from the Copper River is special, it really doesn't taste like any salmon I have eaten. It is smooth, creamy and full of omega 3s. I tucked away a pound of the king salmon for a special occasion. I could not think of a better time to use it than now. One of my favorite ways to grill salmon is using a whole salmon. I stuff it full of fresh basil, lemon, red onion, butter and some white wine; then I grill it.

It is a delicious way to celebrate summer and the grilling season. Since I was not lucky enough to have a whole salmon, I made my recipe a bit differently this time. I seasoned the salmon with a little black pepper and then cooked it over hot coals, on top of a chunk of Himalayan Salt. The salt distributes heat evenly while lightly seasoning the fish. If you don't have a salt plate, grill the fish as you normally would.

Then, I made a compound butter using fresh basil, lemon zest, shallots and a little white wine. Right before taking the salmon off the grill, I put some of the compound butter on top. The slow heat that was left in the grill as well as the smoke wrapped around the salmon and butter, creating a very moist and flavorful piece of fish. Simple. Sustainable.

Recipe:  Grilled Salmon with Basil Butter


  • 1 pound of sustainably caught salmon
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 stick high quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white wine, optional
  • kosher salt, to taste


  1. In a small mixing bowl mash the butter with a fork, until creamy.  Add the seasonings.  Stir to combine.
  2. Roll the butter into a log using parchment paper.  Put into the freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the grill to 350.  Lightly oil the salmon and season with pepper.
  4. Grill the fish until almost cooked.  5 minutes before removing from the grill, slice the butter into slices and evenly space on top of the salmon.
  5. Cover the grill with the lid and continue to cook for the last couple minutes.

Serve.  Eat.

BBQ BONANZA '11 is sponsored by:




Giveaway Rules:

We'll be giving away three Silk Road BBQ Sauce Trios. One trio will be given away in each month: July (congrats, Jenni!), August, and September.

Each winner will receive: one bottle of Carolina sauce (for dressing pulled pork); one bottle of pomegranate chili sauce (versatile sweet/sour/spicy); and one bottle of jerk marinade (meat brine or stew base or ceviche base).


Enter to win:

1. Add a comment on any of the BBQ Bonanza posts. I'll use the random number generator to pick a winner from that month's comments.

2. Add a post on your own blog - c'mon, you know you're grilling! - and link back to one of the BBQ Bonanza posts that inspired you. Let me know which one and you earn another shot. I'll link back, too!

3. Bonus entry: answer to this question and gain another entry in the drawing: Which of the sites on the Silk Road BBQ website is NOT a current, actual location of one of their yurts?


Second Sponsor for August:

For the month of August, we are thrilled to add a second sponsor: OXO! OXO joins the BBQ Bonanza family, graciously offering this groovy and practical four piece grilling tool set. Groovy and practical, isn't that their sweet spot?

These tools have long handles (safely keeping your arms away from the heat. They feature retractable hanging hooks, durable stainless steel tools with comfortable beech wood grips, and the silicone basting brush incorporates OXO’s patented design to prevent marinades from sliding off bristles. I can tell you from personal experience, once you've used an Oxo kitchen tool, nothing else compares. The other basting brushes in my house are lonely, pressed into service only when two separate things are being basted or when my Oxo brush is in the dishwasher. Tongs lock, too. They really think of everything.


Remember all you have to do to enter is drop a comment on any August BBQ Bonanza post, and extra entries can be yours, simply share the link love (see above).

We want to know what you're grilling and how you incorporate sustainability at the grill.

Now go on, fire it up!





Don't forget, BBQ & Grilling love this month also includes a chance to win:

Your comments on any BBQ Bonanza post in August enter you to win Fire it Up: 400 Recipes for Grilling Everything. Even includes recipes for goat!