Sake Makes Salmon Perfect For Grilling

Sake is usually reserved for sushi nights and mixing cocktails. But soaking some fish in it for a few hours makes for a delicious dinner that's rich in flavor.
Cedar-planked sake salmon recipe
Photo credit: Carolyn Stalnaker

Two of my favorite things are salmon and sake. Of course, I'm usually having one raw while downing shots of the other at my favorite sushi bar. Occasionally I'll add a shot or two of sake to my favorite mixer for an unusual cocktail. But most of the time, if I'm drinking sake, I'm drinking it straight. The one thing I've never done with sake is use it in a marinade. I don't know why; I guess it just never occurred to me. But I'd recently seen sake used in marinades in a few magazines and I thought, why not. And since I had an extra cedar plank, I figured salmon would be the perfect test run. I mean they go well together at the sushi bar, why wouldn't they go well together on my own grill? I'm so glad I tried it. The sake not only gave the salmon a delicious flavor, it made the fish even more tender. And I got to use the leftover as a cocktail to go with dinner.

Cedar-planked sake salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup fresh dill, chopped, plus 4 large sprigs
  • Zest of 2 lemons, then slice lemons into 8 pieces
  • 4 (8 ounce) salmon fillets, with the skin
  • 2 cups sake
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Cedar planks for salmon

Directions:

  1. Soak the cedar planks in cold water for several hours.
  2. While the planks soak, combine the salt, sugar, dill and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Place salmon fillets in a shallow baking dish and coat both sides with the rub. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.
  3. When ready rinse the rub off the fillets. Place the fillets back in the baking dish and pour the sake over them. Cover the fillets and refrigerate for another hour, turning halfway through.
  4. Preheat the grill to 450 degrees F.
  5. Remove the fillets from the baking dish and pat dry. Brush the fillets with olive oil and place on the plank. Top each fillet with a sprig of dill and two or three lemon slices.
  6. Turn half the burners off on the grill and carefully set the planks on the grill over the indirect heat. Cover and grill the salmon for 25-30 minutes or until the salmon is opaque and cooked through. Serve immediately with some cold sake.

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