When I proposed my usual Greek lamb for this Easter’s dinner, I was faced with a bit of a revolt. We finally settled on both ham and salmon as the main dishes. For the salmon I eventually decided to use two spice rubs. To go with my salmon I also made a ham steak, arugula salad, latkes with pear sauce, and dinner rolls.
I had bought a whole salmon fillet, but the cedar planks I bought to go under it were only half as long as the fish. Picking up a fillet on two burning pieces of wood would be awkward and dangerous. Cutting the fish in half seemed the only safe thing to do.
Once I had too pieces of fish it seemed unreasonable to me to make them both the same—want if some of my diners did not like the spice rub? Searching the internet for ideas I decided on my dry rubs. The first one would be lemon and dill based and the second would have a paprika base.
Note: Many of the on-line recipes used a lot of spicy chilies and garlic for their rubs, but I had to limit myself, because of daughter Miriam’s recent digestive issues. I wanted my rubs to be flavorful but not spicy hot.
Karl’s Cedar Plank Salmon with Two Dry Rubs
1 whole salmon fillet, scaled and cut in half
Salmon rub #1
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. dill, dried
½ tsp. celery seed, ground
½ tsp, black pepper
½ tsp. Kosher salt
Salmon rub #2
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cumin, ground
½ tsp. coriander, ground
½ tsp. black pepper, ground
½ onion powder
½ tsp. Kosher salt
some arugula or sprigs of parsley (as garnish)
2 cedar planks, 5 x 11 inches long
1. Cut the salmon in half and remove the scales.
Note: Soak your cedar planks in water for half an hour before starting.
2. Trim the fillet to fit on the planks.
Note: The wide front half of the fillet had a thin two inch wide flap of belly meat that hung over the edge of the cedar plank. The tail end of fillet tapered down to leave a lot of the wood exposed on one end of the second plank. I trimmed
3. Put the lemon juice into a shallow pan and lay the front end piece of the fish skin side up in the juice.
4. Let the salmon marinate for 25-30 minutes.
Tip: This is to give the salmon time to absorb some of the lemon juice into the fish.
5. Mix the dill, celery seed, pepper, and salt and put them in a shaker bottle with a large holed cap.
6. Turn the fillet over and sprinkle all of the dill mix over the fish.
Tip: Pat the dry rub onto the fillet so that it is dampened slightly with the lemon juice.
7. Transfer the fillet, skin side down, onto one of the cedar planks and set it out to dry for 30 minutes.
8. Rub the second piece of salmon—and any “bits” cut from the first half—with the vegetable oil.
9. Set the fillet, skin side down, on the second cedar plank.
10. Mix sugar, cumin, coriander, pepper, onion powder, and salt.
11. Place the spice mix into a shaker bottle and sprinkle all of it over the second fillet.
12. Set the second piece of salmon aside to air dry.
Tip: Start your grill while the salmon is air drying.
13. Set both cedar planks directly over the heat and close the grill.
Tip: Keep a spritzer bottle of water on hand, in case the cedar planks burst into flames. You want them to smoke, not burn away.
Note: The heat will char the cedar planks and the smoke will impart its flavor to your fish.
14. Grill your salmon until fully cooked.
Note: The thinner tail section will probably take 20-25 minutes—depending on the exact heat of your grill. The thicker front end may take 15-20 minutes longer.
15. Transfer the fillets—cedar plank and all—to a serving platter and garnish with arugula or parsley.