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Alaskan Salmon with Copper River Barbecue Sauce

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Created by Bruce Hiebert, owner of eastern Washington’s Patit Creek Restaurant, this mild, celery-based sauce is famous in Cordova, Alaska where it was used by the Copper River Fishermen’s Co-op at its annual barbecue.

Slow simmering gives the sauce its melting flavor and smooth consistency, so start it about two hours before you are ready to grill.

Alaskan Salmon with Copper River Barbecue Sauce
Note: The recipe will be mild to hot depending on the amount of Tabasco used.
Serves 8

Sauce
1 1/2 cups onion, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups celery, finely chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sea salt Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste (optional) 

Salmon
4 pounds Alaskan salmon (king, sockeye, or silver) fillets, about 1-inch thick
  1. In a medium (2 to 3 quart) skillet, sauté the onions and celery in the oil until they are translucent. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring the sauce to a boil.Lower the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for up to two hours.
  2. Heat your grill to medium-low, leaving the lid open, and brush the salmon with oil. Place the salmon on the grill and close the lid. (Use our cedar planks to keep the salmon moist and impart great flavor!)
  3. Grill the salmon for 4 minutes. Gently flip the salmon with a spatula and baste it generously with the barbecue sauce before closing the grill’s lid.
  4. Grill the salmon for 4 minutes, then check for doneness with a fork. If the fish is no longer translucent in the center, remove it from the heat and transfer the cuts to a serving platter. If the fish requires more grilling time, close the grill’s lid and re-check the salmon every 2 minutes until it is done.
  5. Serve the cuts with warm barbecue sauce on the side.
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