Cedar-Planked Mackerel

This recipe is featured in Nova Scotia Cookery, Then & Now – a cookbook  showcasing modern interpretations of heritage Nova Scotia recipes.

“It’s almost impossible to find shad, and it’s so bony. I went with mackerel, as mackerel and shad have a close relationship. I was just thinking of the flavours I’d like to see with the fish; juniper gives oily fish a unique flavour. And juniper is an old-world favourite.”

Kitchen Door Catering


For Mashed Potatoes 

2 medium russet potatoes
2-3 tbsp (30-45 ml) whole milk or cream
1-2 tbsp (15-30 ml) butter
to taste salt and pepper
2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped parsley
pinch nutmeg
1 egg

For Fish

1 fresh mackerel, cut into 2 filets
1-2 tbsp (15-30 ml) olive oil, plus more for the plank
3 crushed juniper berries
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced (use vegetable peeler so it’s thick)
4-6 sprigs thyme
to taste salt and pepper


  1. Soak plank in water at least 30 minutes.
  2. Peel, rinse, cut, and boil potatoes in salted water. Drain in colander, let steam 2 minutes. In same pot, combine milk, butter, salt, pepper, parsley, and nutmeg. Heat over medium heat until until butter is melted and milk is warm.
  3. Add potatoes, mash until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add egg, mix thoroughly. Put potatoes in piping bag with star or round tip.
  4. Pat mackerel dry with paper towel. Mix oil, lemon juice, zest, juniper berries, and thyme in medium bowl. Dip mackerel in mixture.
  5. Brush olive oil on plank, place fish on it, skin side down. Ensure that lemon zest and thyme are on both sides of the fish. Pipe potatoes around fish in desired pattern.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) 20 to 25 minutes, or until fish is tender. (If needed, place pan under rack to catch drippings.)
  7. Carefully remove plank from oven and serve. If cooking on BBQ, use low flame. Recipe also works well for salmon, haddock, and char.

Local Source Guide

Local Seafood: Evan’s Seafood & Restaurant, Arichat Seafood Market, Clearwater Seafoods Ltd.,  Masstown Market’s ‘Catch of the Day’ or Fisherman’s Market.
Local Produce: Noggins Corner Farm MarketStirling Fruit FarmsMasstown Market or one of the many other Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia.
Local Milk: Fox Hill Cheese House

Recipe provided by: Kitchen Door Catering

For more heritage recipes: Nova Scotia Public Archives Recipe Collection
Nova Scotia Cookery, Then & Now is  presented by: Select Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Public Archives

For more of our Taste of Nova Scotia events, news and recipes delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe to our Taste of Nova Scotia emails.

Leave a Reply