Fennel- and Dill-Rubbed Grilled Salmon

I made this recipe from epicurious last night for family guests.

* 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
* 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons (packed) golden brown sugar
* 3 tablespoons Pimentón de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika)
* 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
* 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons dried dill weed

* Nonstick vegetable oil spray
* 1 3 3/4- to 4-pound side of salmon with skin (preferably wild salmon)
* Olive oil


Finely grind fennel seeds in spice mill or coffee grinder. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in next 5 ingredients.

Spray grill rack with nonstick spray. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush salmon lightly on both sides with olive oil. Rub spice mixture generously over flesh side of salmon. Place salmon, skin side up, on grill rack; cover and cook until fish is slightly firmer, about 8 minutes. Slide rimless baking sheet under salmon to turn salmon over without breaking. Place another rimless baking sheet atop salmon. Using both hands, firmly hold baking sheets together and invert salmon; slide salmon, flesh side up, off baking sheet and onto grill rack. Cover and grill until just opaque in center, about 8 minutes longer. Using rimless baking sheet, remove salmon from grill. Gently slide salmon, flesh side up, onto platter and serve.

I made the rub (by eye on the proportions) with fresh dill and a bit less sugar and smoked paprika than the recipe called for. I was concerned, based on some of the comments at Epicurious, that the paprika would overwhelm the flavor of the expensive wild salmon. I also didn't feel that I wanted a super sweet rub. My guests and I loved it. The flavors melded and the brown sugar caramelized nicely. I got occasional bright spots of fennel that added to the flavor interest.

Based on the reduced proportions, I think I got it just about right with the wild salmon. Here's my gripe with the recipe: Calling specifically for wild salmon is just a conceit. This robust rub would work better at full strength on farmed salmon steaks - and cost 1/3 to 1/2 the price of the wild salmon called for in the recipe.

This was served with grilled green onions, asparagus, and a salad of walnuts, feta, green beans, and mint. Dessert was a lemon cake with fresh fruit. I would put this meal collectively in the category of healthy and delicious.

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