Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cedar Planked Salmon with Dill Sauce, Heaven on a Plank

Have you ever tried cedar planked salmon?  For that matter, have you ever tried cedar planked anything?  Well if you haven't, it's time you did.  You can cook almost anything on a cedar plank, but my favorite is salmon.  The cedar imparts a wonderful flavor to the fish.  I have converted non-salmon loving people into salmon-eating monsters.  As salmon recipes go, I think this one is my favorite.

Until recent years, I didn't have a whole lot of experience with salmon.  Having grown up in New York,  salmon conjured up visions of lox served with cream cheese and bagels.....not the kind of salmon I'm talking about.  I'm talking about fresh wild caught salmon.  I remember when my mother returned from a trip to Ireland, how she raved about the wonderful poached salmon served with dill sauce that she had eaten several times on her journey.  She said the salmon and fresh dill were the perfect combination and worth a trip to Ireland just to experience it!
I've experimented preparing salmon with glazes and breadcrumbs and sauces and different cooking techniques over the years, and then last weekend I came to the realization,  this is the one!  I made this recipe for a small gathering last winter and everyone asked how the salmon stayed so moist.  Sure I could poach the salmon to keep it moist and juicy, but once again I have to remind you that I hate the smell of fish cooking in the house.  If a fish dish can be prepared outdoors, I'm a happy camper.  I think by basting and planking the salmon,  keeping the fish off of the direct flame, the salmon cooks up moist, flakey and delicious.   The dill sauce is the perfect accompaniment.  Serve it with a seasonal green vegetable and some garlic-dill roast potatoes.  Add a nice glass of Pinot Noir, and I am in heaven!

Cedar Planked Salmon with Dill Sauce
Click here for printable page
Serves 4
  • 1 cedar plank
  • 1 - 1 1/4 pounds salmon fillet,   cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • the juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • fresh ground lemon pepper to taste
Dill Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup grated (finely) cucumber
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
  1. Soak cedar plank in water for 1-4 hours.  
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high for 10 minutes. (30 minutes before dinner)
  3. While grill is heating mix sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, mustard, lemon, zest, chives together.
  5. Dry off top of plank and place salmon skin side down on plank.
  6. Brush salmon with the olive oil-mustard mixture and season with salt and lemon pepper.  You will not be using all of the mixture.  Save some to baste the salmon again after 10 minutes.
  7. Place salmon plank on grill and cover grill. 
  8. Keep a squirt bottle near by just in case plank catches fire - cook for 10 minutes, and baste again with the remaining olive oil - mustard mix.  
  9. Cover and cook another 10 minutes until the salmon flakes with a fork.
  10. Remove from plank to serving plate with a spatula (the skin sticks to the plank).
  11. Serve with dill sauce on the side.
Perfectly cooked every time
After dinner, throw the cedar plank in the chiminea, sit with your favorite pup on your lap and contemplate the joy of being. 

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