Alibi V.15 No.36 • Sept 7-13, 2006 

Hot Knives

Drill and Grill, Surf and Turf

Salmon surfs on cedar turf.
Salmon surfs on cedar turf.

When it comes to grilling, there’s a tendency to eschew anything that involves plates. The usual suspects (hot dogs, burgers and kebabs) are fine for finger-foodin’ it—especially if you need to have one hand free for drinking, smoking, tossing a Frisbee or getting into a fistfight—but sometimes it’s worth splurging on a stack of paper plates.

Here, we prepared an old surf and “turf” favorite: cedar plank-smoked salmon encrusted with herbs. To round it out, we whipped up a far-from-usual suspect for a side dish. Instead of a baked potato, we par-boiled baby taters, drilled holes in them, marinated them overnight and threw them on the barbie. Hail Weber!

Cedar-smoked Herb Salmon


Cedar-smoked Herb Salmon
1 small plank of cedar
1 tablespoon each sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 pound wild salmon fillet (with skin)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 sprigs fresh thyme

1) Preheat your grill to high. Submerge the plank of cedar wood (available at gourmet grocery stores or anywhere that sells grill paraphernalia) in clean water for 1 to 3 hours, then remove and shake off any excess liquid.

2) In a small bowl, mix the salt, pepper, fennel seeds, cayenne and white pepper. Coat the fish with olive oil. Rub the spices onto the fish and pat gently. Place fish on cedar plank.

3) Evenly cover fish with lemon slices and drape the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Throw the whole thing onto your hot grill. Cover with the grill lid and cook for 8-10 minutes. The thickest section of salmon should be pink and flaky.

Grilled Corkscrew Taters


8 baby potatoes
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon celery seeds
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/3 cup molasses


1) Using a corkscrew, “drill” each potato in several places.

2) Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain the spuds.

3) Heat a skillet over medium heat, and toast all the dry spices and seeds until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and grind spices (use a mortar and pestle, food processor or a clean coffee grinder).

4) In a medium bowl, combine the ground spices with the vinegar, oil, stock and molasses. Place potatoes in spice mixture and marinate overnight.

5) Preheat grill to high. Grill potatoes directly over coals, turning over occasionally with tongs, until grill marks appear, about 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with salmon.

Beverage: Avery Brewing Co.’s Salvation Golden Ale

Soundtrack: Dirty Three, Whatever You Love You Are

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