Recipe Challenge: Salish Salmon

Jan 11, 2022 | Friends, Padilla Bay, Washington, Reserves, South Slough, Oregon

We asked for your best estuary-sourced recipes, and Dennis Parent—retired commercial fisherman and volunteer with the Padilla Bay Foundation—delivered. His recipe for grilled Chinook salmon had our mouths watering and our spirits thinking about a trip to the wide wonderful waters of Washington State.

The Chinook (King) Salmon is native to Skagit River. On their way through the estuary as they head to the sea, young salmon use the vast eelgrass meadows of Padilla Bay as a refuge from predators and to fill their bellies before heading out to the deeper waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean. Across the Salish Sea, eelgrass meadows serve as an important juvenile salmon nursery and are an important estuarine habitat for the health and recovery of Pacific Northwest salmonids.

Purple shore crab and numerous Japanese mud snails amidst the eelgrass of Padilla Bay at low tide.

Dennis’ recipe is a hybrid, influenced by original coastal peoples, ethnic cannery workers, and a long tradition of commercial fishers from Puget Sound and Alaska. This recipe is best with wild Pacific salmon—preferably a fresh fillet of Chinook—as the unique flavor comes from the rich North Pacific ocean. But do your best with whatever sustainable salmon you can get your mitts on.


  • 1 Fillet or portion of fresh wild Chinook salmon, about 1 inch thick


  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp red cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 cedar plank, about 1/4 inch thick and large enough to hold the fish


  1. Place fish in a close fitting container with sides.
  2. Pour enough marinade to soak fish, skin up for one hour, just prior to grilling. Move the fish as needed to ensure an even soak.
  3. Simultaneously, immerse the plank in fresh water for one hour.
  4. Preheat the grill to 400 degrees on high, then turn to medium heat. Keep the grill closed as much as possible from now on, and keep the temperature at 375-400F.
  5. Coat grill with BBQ spray.
  6. Place cedar plank on one half of the grill—the plank will infuse a smoky cedar finish. 
  7. Grill salmon face down on the rest of the grill for one minute.
  8. Carefully rotate salmon 90 degrees and grill facedown for one additional minute, to achieve grill marks.
  9. Gently flip salmon skin side down onto cedar plank and center on the grill. The plank should be slightly charring and smoking by now in the closed grill.
  10. Drizzle salmon with 1/3 of retained used marinade, and close lid. Cook for 5 minutes.
  11. Open grill and drizzle salmon again with retained marinade as before. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  12. Check center for doneness. Do not overcook—salmon will continue to cook for a bit after removal from the grill. The salmon should have grill marks and a shiny glazed finish, while the inside retains its moisture and flakes nicely.
  13. Serve with rice and enjoy with people you adore. It’s simply the best.

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FriendsRecipe Challenge: Salish Salmon