Potlatch Salmon with Juniper Marinade

Pacific Northwest Coast Indians used to celebrate the start of salmon season with a traditional feast known as a potlatch. At this festival, the host gave away everything he had to his guests, to impress them with his status and generosity. As part of the ceremony, the first of the season’s salmon or halibut was served. The fish was nailed to a board, rubbed with a mixture of salt, sugar, and juniper, then smoked over wood fires. Of course fish is still prepared this way, festival or not. This is my home version. Share with your friends, too.


  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (kosher) salt
  • 3 tablespoons juniper berries, ground in a spice or coffee grinder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (optional)
  • 6 boneless and skinless salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each Olive oil for brushing the fish Lemon or orange wedges, for garnish



Mix the sugar, salt, juniper, pepper, and orange zest if using, and rub over both sides of the fillets. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 12 hours.

Heat the grill or broiler.

Bring the fish to room temperature. Brush the fish fillets with olive oil. Grill or broil until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Garnish with a lemon or orange wedge.