Recipe: Maple-Brined Salmon Grilled On a Cedar Plank

How to make maple-brined salmon grilled on a cedar plank, with cilantro sunflower pistou, zucchini spaghetti and roasted tomato. 

Kreg Graham, executive chef at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, serves this classic planked salmon to guests at his long-table dinners. Drizzled with cilantro pesto sauce and plated with zucchini spaghetti and roasted tomatoes on the side, it’s a colourful dish for an outdoor summer celebration.


• 1/2 cup maple syrup

• 2 tbsp kosher salt

• 3 bay leaves

• 1 medium shallot, sliced

• 1 clove garlic, crushed

• 1 cup water

• 1 cup ice cubes

• 2 lbs salmon filet, cut into 5-oz portions

• Cedar plank (soaked in water for 4 hours or overnight)

Cilantro Pesto:

• 2 cups fresh cilantro

• 1 clove garlic

• 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

• 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

• 3/4 cup olive oil

• 1/2 tsp kosher salt

• 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Zucchini Spaghetti & Roasted Tomatoes:

• 2 medium zucchini, 8 to 10 inches long (green and yellow)

• 4 tbsp olive oil, divided

• 12 small tomatoes on the vine (or 24 cherry/grape tomatoes)


Combine maple syrup, salt, bay leaves, shallot, garlic and water in a medium pot and bring to a simmer. 

Remove from heat and add the ice cubes. When the brine has cooled below 40°F, place the salmon in the brine and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours.

For the pesto, combine the cilantro, garlic, sunflower seeds, orange juice and 3/4 cup of the olive oil in a blender and purée until smooth. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Set aside.

To cook the salmon, preheat your barbecue to approximately 350°F (medium high). Set the planks on the preheated grill and heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until beginning to smoke.

Remove the salmon from the brine and place on the cedar planks, skin side down. Cook the planked salmon approximately 7 to 12 minutes or until cooked to desired doneness (chef Graham suggests cooking the salmon to medium).

Meanwhile, use a spiral cutter to cut the zucchini into noodles.

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the zucchini until tender but not soft. Keep warm.

Drizzle the remaining olive oil on the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Grill on the barbecue (or roast under a hot broiler) until the skin begins to blister and char.

To serve, arrange the salmon on a large platter (or individual plates) surrounded by nests of zucchini noodles and tomatoes.

Serves 6.