Eat & DrinkFeaturesWhat a Dish

What a Dish: Wood-Fired Salmon

By Debbie AndersonApril 24, 2019May 29th, 2019No Comments

By June Naylor
Photo by Ralph Lauer

The best-selling fish dish at Wildwood Smoke-Craft-Whiskey in Southlake showcases wood-fire smokiness and a tangy/spicy balance of flavors. Have slaw and sauce ready for when the salmon comes hot off the grill. Serve over basmati rice, as chef Matt Molesworth does. And, for optimal smoke, soak wood chips in advance.

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Wood-Fired Salmon with Jicama-Cucumber Slaw and Smoked Tomatillo Sauce

Serves 4

Jicama-Cucumber Slaw:

  •  1 cup jicama, peeled and shredded (with a mandoline)
  •  ½ cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded
  •  ½ cup red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and julienned
  •  ¼ cup poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and julienned
  •  ¼ cup stemmed, seeded and julienned • 1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
  •  ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper

Pickling liquid (recipe follows) Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Add cilantro and seasonings. Cover with liquid and marinate for 30 minutes.

Pickling liquid In a medium pot, combine 2 cups rice wine vinegar; ½ cup lime juice; ¼ cup sugar; 1 cinnamon stick; ½ teaspoon celery seed; 1 to 2 chiles de arbol (or 1 teaspoon cayenne); ½ teaspoon each black peppercorn, minced garlic and salt; and 2 teaspoons water. Bring to boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Strain through fine mesh strainer; cool completely.

Tomatillo Sauce

  •  6 large tomatillos, husked and cut in half
  •  ½ large yellow onion, peeled
  •  1 to 2 poblano peppers
  •  2 teaspoons olive oil
  •  1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  •  1 cup chicken stock
  •  4 teaspoons butter
  •  1 teaspoon cilantro
  •  1 teaspoon lime juice
  •  1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

On a hot grill, char tomatillos, onion and poblano until blackened on all sides (or char under broiler in oven with soaked wood chips in a separate pan in oven). Transfer to a bowl, cover and cool. Peel and discard charred skins and poblano stem. Heat oil in pot over medium heat. Add vegetables and garlic, sweat for 5 to 10 minutes, and add chicken stock, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then process in batches in a blender, adding a little butter and cilantro to each batch. Strain through fine mesh strainer, stir in lime juice and salt and pepper.


  • 4 (6-ounce) fillets wild-caught salmon
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat grill and add soaked wood chips. Brush fillets with olive oil and season. When grill reaches 400 to 450 degrees, grill fish for 3 to 4 minutes covered, then reduce heat to about 325 degrees. Cook 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium (internal temperature of 140 degrees); when properly seared, fish will release from grate easily. If it sticks, allow a little more time. To serve Drizzle tomatillo sauce over hot piece of fish and top with slaw. Serve over rice if you like.