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Cedar-Planked Salmon with Lemon-Pepper Rub and Horseradish-Chive Sauce

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Serves 4, with one extra salmon fillet for leftovers

Grilling on soaked cedar planks has a lot of benefits: the planks char lightly, creating cedar smoke that delicately perfumes the food, and fish doesn’t stick to the grill grates because it’s on the planks. Plus, this spice rub—a simple mixture of salt, cracked black pepper, lemon zest, fresh thyme, and a bit of sugar—pairs really well with the cedar-smoke flavor. Because it's a simple technique, it's easy to grill two fillets at once and use the leftover fillet the next day in a salad or sandwich.

For the salmon
  • 1 Tbs. grated lemon zest, minced
  • 1 1/2tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 2-lb. boneless, skin-on salmon fillets (preferably wild and no longer than 15 inches), pin bones removed
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
For the horseradish-chive sauce
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 3 Tbs. minced fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tip:
If you want to serve both salmon fillets for 8 people, double the sauce recipe.

Soak the cedar planks in water to cover for at least 1 hour. Drain the planks.

Prepare the sauce

In a small bowl, stir the crème fraîche, chives, and horseradish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate.

Prepare the salmon

In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, thyme, sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 Tbs. pepper. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until the zest is distributed throughout. Rub the salmon fillets on both sides with the olive oil and then set each fillet skin side down on a plank. Sprinkle the fillets with the lemon-pepper mixture, dividing it evenly. Gently rub the seasoning into the fillets. Let stand at room temperature while the grill heats.

Cook the salmon

Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire for indirect cooking with high heat: On a gas grill, heat all burners on high; then turn off all but one burner just before cooking the salmon; on a charcoal grill, bank the coals to two opposite sides of the grill. Arrange the planks over the cooler part of the grill, positioning them so that the thickest part of the fish is closest to the heat source. Cover the grill and cook until the thickest part of each fillet registers about 135°F on an instant-read thermometer, 20 to 35 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. The planks may smoke a bit (this is fine) and will become very aromatic. Let the fillets rest on the planks for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Cut the salmon fillets crosswise into serving portions and transfer to individual plates. Serve with the sauce.

Make Ahead Tips

The sauce may be made up to 1 day ahead, and refrigerated, covered.

Serving Suggestions

To round out your Sunday supper, serve this dish with Peas and Carrots with Lemon, Dill, and Mint.

Leftovers

Cool any leftover salmon completely, wrap well, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 460; Fat (g): 28; Fat Calories (kcal): 260; Saturated Fat (g): 10; Protein (g): 46; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): 3; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6; Sodium (mg): 600; Cholesterol (mg): 150; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Just wanted to echo all the other reviews. This recipe was terrific and really quite simple to put together. Ours took longer to cook than the recipe suggested, but I think variance in grills would account for that. My husband just put it on the menu for Father's Day dinner!

Excellent recipe and the leftovers are just as good!

This is an amazing dish! Delicious and moist, just watch the amount of salt you add.

GREAT recipe!! We made as written using 3/4 pound fillet for the 2 of us. It was only on the grill for 10 minutes and was perfectly done. We like our salmon less done. The rub and sauce are a must. So good and SOOOO easy.

We eat a lot of salmon and this recipe ranks among our favourites. Our BBQ is not working at the moment so I didn't use a plank and simply baked in the oven at 400 for about 15 min. I doubled the rub for 6 servings and, since I'm lactose intolerant, I used mayonnaise in place of the creme fraiche and it was delicious (I doubled the sauce quantity too).

This was a method of cooking salmon that I wanted to try for years and was definitely not disappointed. The cedar plank gives a light smokiness to the salmon. I also double the amount of rub, use both fresh and dried lemon peel and like to serve it with tzaziki sauce.

I LOVE this dish. We have made it twice now and it was fabulous both times. It is now my go-to dish for company in the summer. It's quick and easy, and with the planks, something unusual that impresses guests. It is very forgiving on time - we've overcooked it at 25 minutes (per temp guidelines) and it's still been delicious. Both times we did a taste-test using two different types of salmon, and it works well on all kinds. This last time we did both Atlantic and wild-caught Alaskan coho, and both were equally good. I add extra lemon (2 lemons) because I like that taste, but suit yourselves. I think it's good even without the sauce, but I do make the sauce as an option. I don't use as much horseradish, as I prefer the cedar and herb flavors to come through unimpeded. Still, an excellent dish. Love it.

Delicious! I made this without the plank (didn't have one), but used the rub and grilled it skin side down the entire time. Not only did it taste good, but looked great too. Loved the sauce! I didn't have the creme fraiche so used some yogurt, a little cream and a pinch of sugar as a substitute. I would double the amount of sauce next time as it really added to the overall dish. Served the salmon over a little sauteed chard which added some additional color and was a nice accompaniment.

Absolutely wonderful! We are not fish lovers and are trying to get more healthy fish into our diet. This sounded tasty and my grocery store had cedar planks on sale so we decided to try it. First time cooking on a plank and found it to be very easy with great results. We had a nice smallish filet (only 2 of us) so I adjusted cooking times; our less than 1 lb filet cooked over indirect heat on gas grill in about 15 min. Others may like their salmon a little more rare. I used pretty much the whole recipe for the rub - I would definitely double it for more than one filet. I did not have creme fraiche but decided to go to a 2nd grocery store to get it so I could make the recipe as written, even though the creme fraiche w/ horseradish sounded weird. So glad I made it. That sauce was an awesome complement to the salmon - whoever thought of it is a culinary genius. Be sure to try it and no - sour cream is not a substitute for creme fraiche - totally different flavor and texture. (Someone suggested Mexican crema as a substitute.) Husband rated this "two thumbs, way up" (google Siskel and Ebert if you don't know the reference). This recipe is perfect on so many levels: easy to make, very tasty, and surprisingly awesome with the sauce, and company worthy. It will become part of our regular rotation. One last caution: We were fortunate to have fresh, Alaskan salmon; don't settle for anything but fresh Alaskan no matter what the price difference. The difference in flavor and sustainability is worth the higher price. Avoid Atlantic farm raised; Seafood Watch rates it as "avoid". By the way, there's a Seafood Watch app for iPhone and I'm sure there's one for Android as well; great to have when shopping for fish.

I made this recipe for a Memorial Day BBQ and it turned out great. I used one 4 lb fillet cut in half, seasoned one with the Lemon Pepper as shown in the recipe and the other used a brown sugar, chili powder, cumin rub that was on the back of cedar planks package. We used a charcoal grill and the fillets were done in about 30 minutes. They were moist and delicious!

My local Costco had Copper River salmon and this was a fabulous recipe. I had a dinner for 9 so both filets were consumed. There was not a single bite left. I doubled the amount of the rub and the amount of the sauce. Everyone loved the fish and agreed that the sauce was critical to bringing all the flavors together. Total cooking time on the fish was about 25 minutes. Will definitely make it again.

Very good! I only made one 2-lb salmon filet as there are only two of us eating - but I used a full recipe of the spice rub and it was perfect. The salmon ended up taking an hour to cook - we ended up turning on two burners to speed things along - maybe our grill is too large. Even with the extended cooking, it still ended up moist and flavorful. I had leftovers to make the kedegree and that recipe was also good.

Great flavor, but next time I will double all the ingredients except the salt, for an even more lemon-herb flavor.

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