Smoke ‘n Spice: You Haven’t Had Salmon Like This.

Smoke, spice and everything nice – that’s what a good barbecue is made of. Grilling with wood adds depth of flavour to anything on the barbecue. The scented smoke stretches and rounds out the rich fatty flavours of whatever you’re cooking. Add in fiery chilies or something spicy for seasoning and call yourself the pit master.

The pros and cons of grilling with wood is that it requires time: slow burn for big flavour. Trouble is, I don’t always have the time. What’s a girl to do? Put on your big pants and grab a plank. Cedar wood is an obvious and easy choice – it is available at most grocery stores, and it’s a fragrant favourite. Simply soak plank in water for a few hours before using to ensure a smoky burn without bursting into flames. This Thai-inspired marinade is a good match for meaty halibut, salmon and big fat scallops.


_MG_8838¼ cup Thai coconut milk

1 Tbsp Thai red curry paste

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 Tbsp lime juice

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Pinches of dried chilies (optional)

1.5 kg wild salmon, halibut fillet or 12 to 16 large sea scallops

1 large cedar plank, soaked


In a bowl, whisk coconut milk with curry paste, fish sauce, ginger, lime juice, sugar and oil. Add chilies too, if using.

Place fish in a baking dish just large enough to hold it. Pour marinade over top and turn fish to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours. If using scallops, marinate up to 30 minutes. Strain and discard marinade.

Meanwhile, be sure to soak wooden plank. Place in a bucket and weigh down with a damp towel (one you don’t really care about) or a plate. Allow at least 3 hours. Preheat barbecue to medium-high.

Place fish on plank, skin-side down. If using scallops, leave space between each so they aren’t touching. Place plank on one half of the grill. Reduce heat under plank-side to medium-low and leave the other side set to medium-high.


Grill, covered, until fish is just firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. 
Grill scallops just until cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes. Keep an eye on the plank. If it starts to flame, spray with water.

When fish is almost done, turn barbecue off but leave lid closed. Let fish rest 5 minutes, then remove to a platter.

Top It Right

Dish up with a creamy, stir-together pineapple and basil sauce. Boil down 1 cup pineapple juice along with 1 minced garlic clove to form a glaze. Remove pan from heat. Finely chop 4 to 6 large basil leaves, then stir into glaze. When cool, whisk in ½ cup mayo. Season with pinches of salt and ground black pepper. Scrape into a serving bowl. Lick spoon!

 – Photography by Seanna Nichol


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Let’s get to know each other: I’m a food writer, recipe developer and food stylist. I love to cook. I really love to eat. Better yet, it’s my pleasure to make it look good too. I am the consummate table-setter: I adore ...

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