SALMON GRILLED IN A CEDAR PAPER WRAP

Using Cedar Paper Cooking Wraps
Cedar paper is pliable enough to embrace a single-portion fillet of salmon as described below, OR a hunk of fresh mozzarella or half of a ripe summer peach. The papers, first soaked in water, cook directly on the grill (they char and scorch, so they can be used only once) and they lend to their contents a lacy, smoked perfume.

Some packages of cedar wraps come with disposable fasteners enclosed, but the sheets can be easily rolled into tubes or otherwise folded or wrapped around the food to be grilled, then cinched with a strap of scallion green (as described in this recipe) and grilled in neat packages.

These cedar cooking wraps are best used with subtly-flavored foods, because the paper's sandalwood-like tones are no match for bold flavors like marinated skirt steak. Try shrimp, other fish, melting cheeses, tofu or summer fruits -the salmon recipe here is simple and a perfect use of the wraps.










SERVES 4

1 bunch scallions - about 10 inches long
4 squares of cedar paper - each about 6 inches square
12 ounces, skinless wild salmon, about 1 inch thick - cut into four equal portions
2 teaspoons, walnut oil (or substitute olive or peanut oil)
Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lemon, quartered and thinly sliced
2 stems of cilantro or chervil or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Peel six of the longest, broadest scallion leaves from their stalks, stripping the leaves as far down toward the bulb as possible.

Split two of the leaves lengthwise and set aside [for topping the fish before cooking]; in lightly boiling water, blanch the other four scallion leaves for 15 seconds and immediately transfer the leaves to a bowl of ice and water [this will set the color, and stop the cooking]. Drain the scallion greens, gently squeeze out excess water and reserve, along with the unblanched split scallion strips. (Keep the remaining scallions for another use.)

Soak the cedar paper by immersing the squares in cold water for 10 minutes. Remove the squares and place a piece of salmon in the center of each, parallel to the grain of the wood. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of walnut (or other) oil over each piece of salmon and season with a couple of pinches of salt and a grind of pepper. Lay a thin strip of raw scallion and then two slices of lemon lengthwise over each fillet.

Encase each fillet in a cedar-paper “tube,” overlapping the edges; wrap a blanched scallion leaf around the center of each tube and tie it in a knot.

Immediately set the salmon packages over a grill, about 2 or 3 inches above very hot coals, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally so the salmon cooks evenly but remains pink inside. The cedar paper will char and may smolder slightly, but it should not burn.

Using tongs, remove the cedar packages from the grill and transfer them to a serving platter.

For an attractive presentation: When cool enough to handle, slide the scallion band back to within an inch of one end. Gently pry open the opposite end of the cedar tube and trim the corners with kitchen scissors to reveal the salmon inside.

Garnish with a sprig of cilantro, chervil or parsley and serve immediately.

Recipe Adapted from a 2005 article in the New York Times by Edward Lee.