"I'll take a salmon BLT, hold the bacon, lettuce, and tomato. And as many extra lemon slices as you will give me." Yep, that was my go-to lunch order at our favorite little hometown cafe. I was a very particular little kid. At least I ate the salmon, but thank goodness the times have changed!
I just gifted my fiancé with a fabulous new natural gas grill for his 30th birthday. (Okay, I secretly bought it for me, too, but don't tell him that.) We've already tested out steaks and pizzas, and I'm looking forward to all the wonderful new dishes we are going to discover this summer.
I've been loading up on all of this beautiful salmon my fishmonger is getting these days. I try to get there early to get the Copper River fillets, but they sell out so quickly that sometimes I have to settle for the Sockeye. We've already enjoyed our favorite recipe—made with soy, brown sugar, and bourbon—a few times, so I decided to do something different.
I thought back to that favorite childhood "BLT," and decided to recreate it as it always should have been. I amped up the salmon with pimentón to give it a smoky flavor the gas grill just can't give. This lovely piece of fish, paired with a bakery-fresh croissant, applewood-smoked bacon, and ripe tomatoes (ours are just starting to show up at the farmers market in Georgia!) made for one heck of a lunch. And while I thought about serving it with a lightly dressed salad, instead I opted for what that little girl at the lunch counter would have ordered: Lay's original potato chips. I guess some tastes will never change, and thank goodness for that.
Smoky Salmon BLTs
For the salmon
2 (5 - 6 ounce) wild salmon filets
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
For the sandwiches
2 croissants, split in half sandwich-style
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Squeeze of lemon juice
4 cooked bacon slices
4 thick tomato slices
4 large pieces of green lettuce
For the salmon, preheat gas grill, covered, on highest heat for 15 minutes.
While the grill is heating, stir together smoked paprika, salt, brown sugar, black pepper, and cayenne. Spoon lemon juice on salmon. Rub the spice mixture into the salmon and set aside until ready to cook.
Leave one grate on high heat and turn the remaining grates to medium-low. Brush the grates thoroughly with cooking oil (I use tongs and a paper towel). Place salmon, skin side up, on hottest grate, and cook until grill marks appear, about 1 minute. Flip the salmon so the skin side is down, close grill, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Re-oil cooler grates. Move salmon, skin side up, to cooler grates, until fish is cooked through, about 1-2 more minutes. Set aside.
To assemble the sandwiches, toast the croissants lightly. Stir together mayonnaise, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Spread a dollop of the mayonnaise mixture onto the top half of each croissant. On the bottom slice, layer lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and finally salmon. Top the salmon with mayonnaise-coated slice. Serve BLTs with additional lemon slices and potato chips.
Related: How to Grill Salmon on a Cedar Plank
(Images: Nealey Dozier)