It’s almost the end of summer—days are getting shorter, nights are getting cooler, and the pumpkins are growing. That means it is also the end of wild salmon season.
Whole Foods had some wild king salmon on sale, so I had to get some for dinner; for a last hurrah, I finally succumbed to my curiosity about grilling it on a cedar plank, after marinating in a simple mixture of mustard, maple syrup, rosemary, and lemon zest. I soaked the plank for several hours in advance of dinner, but was still a little paranoid about the wood catching fire, so we started it cooking on indirect heat. That took so long, however—almost an hour, believe it or not!—that I ended up moving the plank onto direct heat for the last 10 minutes or so, which finally did the trick and cooked the thick part of the fish until moist and flavorful.
I served the planked salmon alongside whole roasted Yukon gold potatoes with delightfully crispy skins and some rather limp roasted asparagus that didn’t hold up well against the salmon’s tardiness. Fortunately, the fish was definitely the star of this plate! My mom, notorious fish skeptic, ate her entire portion without pawning any off on my dad or needing some sort of tartar sauce. I thought the marinade had a very good balance of flavors—tangy, sweet, and woodsy—that matched perfectly with the light perfume of cedar smoke. This recipe is definitely a keeper, and I am hoping we can get at least a few more uses out of the cedar plank, even if we have to wait until next summer to do it!
Cedar-Planked Salmon with Rosemary and Lemon
2 T grainy mustard (I used Dijon)
2 T mild honey or pure maple syrup
1 tsp minced rosemary
1 T grated lemon zest
1 (2-pound) salmon fillet with skin (1 1/2 inches thick)
Equipment: a cedar grilling plank (about 15 by 6 inches)
Soak cedar grilling plank in water to cover for 2 hours, keeping it immersed with weights if necessary. Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas). Open vents on bottom and lid of charcoal grill.
Stir together mustard, honey, rosemary, zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Spread mixture on flesh side of salmon and let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.
Put salmon on plank, skin side down (if salmon is too wide for plank, fold in thinner side to fit). Grill, covered with lid, until salmon is just cooked through and edges are browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Let salmon stand on plank 5 minutes before serving.