Red Zone

Tailgate corner archives: There’s nothing fishy about this super salmon recipe

Tom McKenzie shows off his winning salmon dish at Arrowhead Stadium in 2002.
Tom McKenzie shows off his winning salmon dish at Arrowhead Stadium in 2002. THE KANSAS CITY STAR

No televised sporting event in Seattle is complete without obligatory clips of a fish-monger tossing a salmon to a co-worker at the city’s iconic Pike Place Market.

The Chiefs might be at home this weekend, but their game against the Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday offers the perfect opportunity to blow the dust off a classic salmon dish — one of our tailgate contest winners from a dozen years ago.

A couple of things to know: First, you’ll be preparing the fish ahead of time and soaking it in brine overnight. Second, this recipe calls for peppercorns, which must be soaked for a good four hours. And finally, you’ll want to pick up some hickory wood chips to impart a nice, smoky flavor. Those, too, will need some prep time (they must be soaked for 15-30 minutes before introducing them to your coals).

If you prefer to smoke the fish, that works, too. We’ve included both options below for your weekend culinary pleasure.

Beer Pairing

It doesn’t get more Pacific Northwest than grilled salmon and a Redhook ESB. Well, unless you throw on some Pearl Jam or Macklemore. The ESB stands for “Extra Special Bitter,” but don’t let the last word fool you. This Seattle-based brew has a little bite to it, but there’ll be no bitter-beer face after quaffing one. If anything, you’ll be reaching for another.

Craving More?

Digging this week’s recipe selection? You’ll love The Star’s Food section. Fill up on the latest edible inspirations at Kansas City’s No. 1 recipe source:

Peppered Salmon

Makes 9 to 12 servings

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

2 to 3 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon crushed whole allspice

1 (3- to 4-pound) salmon fillet with skin

1/2 cup whole tricolor peppercorns

About 1/2 cup apple or hickory wood chips

2 tablespoons honey

2 to 3 thin red onion slices, for garnish

Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish

Bring water, sugar, salt, ginger, bay leaves and allspice to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool slightly. Pour sugar-salt mixture over salmon. Tightly cover and chill 4 to 24 hours. Occasionally spoon brine over fish.

At the same time, pour hot water over peppercorns to cover and allow to soak at least 4 hours.

Pour warm water over wood chips to make them float. Let soak at least 15 minutes.

Pour brine off fish; rinse with cool water and pat dry. Set skin side down on nonstick aluminum foil or foil that has been slightly oiled. Fold edges of foil up slightly around fish but do not cover. Rub honey over top of fish, drain peppercorns and scatter over fish, patting them to set.

To grill: Follow manufacturers’ directions for placement of soaked hickory chips. Allow coals to burn to a white ash. Place fish, on foil, over hot coals. Cover grill and cook until fish is opaque. As a guide, grill fish about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

To smoke: Prepare smoker, following manufacturers’ directions. Smoke at 225 to 250 degrees about 1 hour. If desired, smoke fish the night before, then cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve fish hot or cold.

Garnish with onion slices and dill sprigs.

Per serving (based on 9): 206 calories (24 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 79 milligrams cholesterol, 8 grams carbohydrates, 30 grams protein, 357 milligrams sodium, no dietary fiber.

Note: Recipe by Tom and Joanne McKenzie of Peculiar. Adapted from the Great Northwest Cookbook.