The grilled salmon at Taku Glacier Lodge is legendary. Visitors can reserve the short floatplane ride up the river from Juneau and enjoy dinner at the lodge (available only in summer). The staff claims to engage in outdoor "combat cooking" - that is, holding back the bears until the salmon is done - but the evening we were there, the only big black beast being held at bay looked an awful lot like a well-fed Labrador retriever. We've reconfigured Taku Lodge's baste ingredients so they can serve as marinade as well.
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 pieces (about 6 oz. each; max. 1 1/4 in. thick) boned, skinned wild salmon fillet
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter
How to Make It
In a large, wide bowl or 9- by 13-inch baking dish, stir brown sugar, wine, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until sugar is dissolved.
Rinse fish and pat dry. Add to marinade and turn to coat. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
Lift salmon from marinade and transfer to a 12- by 17-inch baking pan. Pour marinade into a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan over medium-high heat; add butter and stir until butter is melted and mixture is simmering, 4 to 5 minutes.
Lay salmon, skinned side down, on a generously oiled grill over a solid bed of medium-hot coals or medium-high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds). Brush fish generously with the baste; close lid if using a gas grill. Cook until salmon pieces are well browned on the bottom, 3 1/2 to 4 minutes (keep a spray bottle filled with clean water on hand to spritz any flare-ups). With a wide spatula, carefully turn pieces; brush tops with baste and continue to cook, basting often, until the salmon is just opaque but still moist-looking in the center of the thickest part (cut to test), about 5 to 6 minutes longer. Discard any remaining baste.
Transfer salmon to a warm platter or plates and garnish with lemon wedges. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
We visited Taku Lodge last month and had their Basted Grilled Salmon. Absolutely brilliant - can't wait to try this recipe at home. We saw the bear come down and clean up the salmon drippings in the sand under the grill - they don't actually lick the plate because they use a wire basket arrangement with sand to catch the drippings underneath. Our bear walked from the BBQ area to a pine tree not far away, climbed it and had a "bear nap" in the branches. He was a BIG boy that beautiful black bear!!! I have photos and love telling people this story!!!
Colleen and Ted, Australia
I did not have the benefit of memories of a trip to Alaska coming rushing back while I ate this salmon. So I have to judge it on its merits alone. It was a solid recipe, my kids liked it, my husband thought it was ok. I liked the baste/marinade and I thought it made for a nice, light flavor (if a little greasy. Might skip the butter next time). I woudl never have thought to combine brown sugar and white wine, and it was very good. Not spectacular, but good. I'll make it again because it was so easy to throw together and because my kiddos liked it a lot.
I salivate every time I talk or think about it!! It was wonderful!! I am in the process of trying to copy it, but don't think it will work without the Alderwood Coals, the freshly wild caught Alaskan King Salmon, and the exceptional ambience of the lodge that we experienced 3 weeks ago. Hope to return!
We are making this tomorrow with salmon my husband caught in Sitka, we had it on 6/7 at the Lodge. Hope ours turns out as wonderful. Go see it for yourself if you have a chance - it was wonderful. And, we did see the bears, momma, poppa and baby!!