The Salt and Stone

This flavorful meal is the perfect way to top off a day spent playing outdoors this time of year.

My oldest son taught himself to ride a two-wheel bike when he was just shy of 3 years old. That little blue bike was nearly as dear to him as the matching blue helmet he wore almost constantly.

We had a sloping driveway back then and lived in a cul-de-sac with the most accommodating and friendly neighbors, who, thankfully, got a kick out of my high-energy toddler riding his bike in and out of their driveways and over their curbs.

I have dozens of snippets of videos from those years of his many antics, things like riding down the driveway standing on his bike seat or constructing a “jump” out of boards, a toy lawn mower and the picnic table.

Fast forward 10 years and the whole family has embraced riding bikes. We are regulars up at Rocky Top, Cowiche Canyon and the dirt pump track. Some of us maneuver the trails much more adeptly and quickly than others (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not me) but nonetheless, its something the entire family does together and it’s one of the many silver linings that’s come of these weird COVID days.

While we might be quick to think of the Yakima Valley as a desert (which it more or less is), it’s also a stunningly beautiful area in which to live and play. We are incredibly lucky to have quick and relatively easy access to so many wonderful trails, rivers and camping sites and mountain vistas. When you play hard, the obvious necessity after a great day spent outside is a lovely, flavorful meal.

Ginger soy barbecued salmon is the crowd-pleasing dish you need this summer. A simple marinade of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, Sambel Olek (ginger garlic sauce), for a bit of heat, and a touch of brown sugar for sweetness transforms the salmon into a dish absolutely bursting with flavor. A fresh and tangy cucumber avocado salad is the perfect complement for the salmon.

So crack open your favorite Pinot Noir, (I know, a surprising combination, but trust me, you won’t regret it) and fire up the barbecue. A few quick minutes in the kitchen chopping and prepping and you have a dinner that’s perfect for those fun summer days spent playing and exploring in our great Yakima Valley backyard.

With wine in hand, the evening begs to be savored, watching the sky turn pink, orange and purple, enjoying good food and the people you love.

Ginger Soy Barbecued Salmon

with Cucumber Avocado Salad

and Coconut Rice

1.5 pounds wild Alaskan salmon

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon Sambel Olek

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, Sambel Olek, brown sugar, garlic and ginger. Place the fish, skin side down, on a large piece of tin foil on a baking sheet. Spoon the marinade over the fish. Place the fish back into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to four hours before grilling.

When you’re ready to cook the salmon, remove it from the fridge and turn your barbecue on high. Place the fish, still on its piece of tin foil directly on the grill. Close the lid and allow the fish to cook for about 8 minutes or until the fish begins to flake with a fork. Remove the fish from the grill and transfer to a baking sheet. Carefully remove the skin and cut into pieces to serve.

To cook the fish in the oven, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the fish in the center rack of the oven, on a baking sheet. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the fish is a rich pink and the thickest part of the fish easily flakes with a fork. Follow the steps above for removing the skin and cutting into pieces to serve.

Spoon coconut rice onto a plate or shallow bowl and top with soy ginger grilled salmon. Garnish with a generous scoop of cucumber avocado salad. Serve immediately alongside a lovely glass of Owen Roe Pinto Noir. Serves 4.

Cucumber Avocado Salad

1 large English cucumber

1 large OR 2 small ripe avocados

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

Pinch of flaky sea salt and black pepper

Wash and peel the English cucumber before chopping into quarters. Peel and pit the avocado and cut into 1-inch bite size pieces similar in size to the cucumbers. Combine in a bowl, stirring gently. Drizzle the olive oil and rice wine vinegar over the vegetables and gently stir to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.

Coconut Rice

2 cups jasmine rice

2 1/2 cups water

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

Pinch of salt

Rinse rice in cold water. Next, combine the rice, water, salt and coconut milk and cook according to preferred method (rice cooker, instant pot or on the stove). For an Instant Pot, combine ingredients and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. For the stove, combine ingredients, bringing the liquids to a boil. Stir well before lowering heat to a simmer and covering pot with a lid. Cook on a low simmer for about 25 minutes or until the liquid is dissolved and the rice is tender. Use a fork to fluff the rice before serving.