As much as I love fish, I’m often hesitant about serving it to a crowd because I want to ensure it’s cooked properly. So often for barbecues, I turn to serving up steak or burgers because they are so easy to cook and I don’t really have to worry about it. That is, until I tried making cedar smoked salmon! Believe me when I say that this is the easiest method of cooking any protein on the barbecue! The fish simply lays on the cedar plank and cooks (off direct heat) with the barbecue lid closed for 20-30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish as well as your desired doneness). It means that you can easily interact with your guests outside and relax, rather than sweating up a storm by the grill flippin’ burgers and overcooking steak while your guests look on with disapproving glares. Been there.
The only two things you need to really consider for this dish ahead of time are 1) the fish, and 2) the cedar plank. Easy enough! Find a beautiful piece of fish that is not too thick in the centre- this could make cooking evenly quite difficult. Depending on the size of the crowd, you may want to purchase several pieces of salmon (and of course, don’t forget about several pieces of cedar!). The second thing you must do ahead of time is soak your cedar plank(s) in cold water for a least one hour before cooking. The rest is simple, because I guarantee you’ll have the only other ingredients required for this dish already in your pantry: maple syrup, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and a lemon.
The great thing about summer is that you can serve lots of cold dishes to accompany the main protein when feeding crowds. I used to think that serving cold dishes made me look like an amateur, but that’s totally not true! There are some delicious cold salads to make ahead of time that are really flavourful and refreshing in the summer heat, and prevent you from having to scramble and whip up crazy fancy stuff for your crowd over the grill when it’s hot and you’re sweating and your guests are looking at you with disapproving glares… we all make mistakes OK?!? Click here for my delicious PEI potato salad with fresh peas and dill, or here for my cabbage slaw with lemon-maple vinaigrette.
Cedar Smoked BC Salmon with Maple-Dijon Glaze
Total Time: 30 minutes
Hands-on time: 7 minutes
2 Ibs. BC Atlantic Salmon, skin on (I recommend about 6-9 ounces per person, or approximately a third to a half a pound)
Cedar planks (enough to accommodate all the salmon you bought)
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Soak cedar planks in cold water for at least 1 hour before cooking, up to 12 hours
2. Preheat half of grill to high heat, leave the other half of the burners off. Close lid
3. Pat salmon dry with paper towel. Season fleshy side heavily with salt and pepper
4. In small bowl, combine Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and extra virgin olive oil
5. With spoon, coat fleshy side of fish entirely with Dijon glaze
6. Place cedar plank on grill (on half without direct heat) and close lid. Let cook for 15 minutes with lid shut, then check on doneness of fish (you may have a very hot grill, in which case your fish might be done). If not, let cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on preferred doneness. To check for doneness, go to fleshiest part of the fish and gently slide your knife horizontally through (this way, no one will notice you knife cut on top of the fish). The fish should appear pink on the inside still, and slightly translucent. For more well-done fish, the fish should look more opaque and whiter
7. Remove fish from grill when done and serve on cedar plank buffet style!