You don’t need a smoker to lend a slightly spicy, faintly sweetish hint of the outdoors to fresh salmon. On board a friend’s boat in Alaskan waters, we improvised this method with strips from cedar logs. Back home, we substituted shakes of untreated aromatic cedar (sold by the bundle at lumberyards and hardware stores).
- 1 untreated cedar shake (slat), about 6" × 12"
- 5 untreated cedar shakes, about 3" × 6"
- 3 lb. center-cut salmon in 1 piece, cut almost all the way through into 6 steaks
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 15 sprigs fresh dill
- 6 tbsp. butter, melted
- Soak shakes in a pan of water overnight, then drain, or place in a large pot of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then drain.
- Preheat oven to 450°. Place large cedar shake on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Season salmon with salt and pepper, then place on cedar and slip 1 of the smaller cedar pieces, 1 or 2 lemon slices, and 2 dill sprigs into each of the cuts between salmon steaks, reserving additional dill sprigs and a few lemon slices for garnish. Brush all over with melted butter.
- Roast salmon until pink, 20–25 minutes, then remove from oven. Remove smaller pieces of cedar from salmon and scatter them on top of fish, then wrap aluminum foil around cookie sheet, sealing salmon tightly. Set aside for 15 minutes. (For more well-done fish, return wrapped salmon to oven and roast for 5 minutes more at 450°.)
- Unwrap salmon and, when it’s cool enough to handle, finish slicing through steaks. Serve fish garnished with reserved lemon slices and fresh dill.