How to Make Cedar Plank Salmon
Cedar Plank Salmon
Planking is not for salmon alone! You can plank many different kinds of fish, meats, poultry, or vegetables—even fruits. You can also plank cook on a camping trip!
Cedar plank salmon is a wonderfully easy and unique way to cook one of my favorite dishes—salmon—and to demonstrate the wonderful technique known as plank cooking.
Salmon is so good for you and it is also part of the culinary basics when it comes to knowing how to prepare fish. Not only is salmon delicious, it is full of omega-3, which makes it a wonderful food choice. Don't forget to save leftover salmon for eggs, sandwiches, and salads!
Cedar plank cooking is by far the most popular right now but check out alder, oak, and maple plank cooking as well.
Recipe for Cedar Plank Salmon
Makes 8-10 servings
Notes to self:
- Buy cedar planks for cooking at any large grocery store
- Buy them in a package of 6 or more so you always have some on hand
- Buy cedar and other planks on line
- 1 large salmon fillet (with skin) - 2-1/2 to 3 pounds - about 16 inches long and 3/4-inch thick
- Kosher salt
- Ground pepper
- 1 untreated cedar plank - about 16 inches x 8 inches - at least 3/4-inch thick (submerged in water for at least 1 hour)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or green onion
- Kosher salt
- 1 minced garlic clove
- Fresh pepper
- Cayenne pepper if desired
- 1/4 cup olive oil
BBQ Heat Methods
Direct heat means the fire is just below the food. This is usually used for grilling hamburgers, boneless chicken breasts, fish fillets, and sliced vegetables.
Indirect heat means the fire is off to one side of the grill or, even better, on opposite sides of the grill. Food is cooked over the unlit part.
Foods like turkeys, prime rib, and pork shoulders are usually cooked this way so that the centers cook slowly so as not to be overdone.
- Start by soaking cedar plank is salt water for at least 1 hour.
- Make the dressing. In a blender or food processor, combine the dressing ingredients except the oil. Mix until all is well blended. With the blender or the food processor running, add the oil slowly to blend in and make a nice, smooth dressing.
- Place salmon on a rimmed baking sheet. Using needle nose pliers or kitchen shears, remove any pin bones from the salmon.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour half the dressing over the flesh of the fish and use a brush to brush it on evenly.
- Remove plank from water and immediately place the plank over direct high heat until the edges start to smoke and char, which should be roughly 3-10 minutes. (Be careful not to let it flame)
- Move the plank back or over to indirect high heat and place the salmon skin side down on the plank.
- Grill until the salmon is just slightly pink in the center and brown on the edges—about 20-25 minutes.
- Remove the plank and salmon to a heatproof surface.
- Serve warm with remaining dressing.
- Substitute champagne vinegar or another specialty vinegar for the rice vinegar.
- Use walnut oil or another specialty oil rather than olive oil.
- Brown sugar is great as a substitute for honey or try a flavored honey.
About Cedar Plank Cooking
- Cedar plank cooking originated with the Pacific Northwest Indians at least a hundred years ago
- Visit an Indian salmon bake, like they have in the summer in Sequim, Washington for the taste of your life!
- Nowadays, cooks all over the world are using cedar, alder, oak, and maple planks to enhance the flavor of foods as the wood enhances whatever food is cooked on it to give it a unique smoked flavor.
- Plank cooking is for baby-back ribs, fish of any kind, meats, poultry, vegetables and fruits
- There are hundreds of recipes.
- Recipes can be adapted for the grill, the oven, or the family camping trip!
Tips on Plank Cooking
- Always soak your plank for at least 1 hour before using. You want to submerge it in water because it will avoid wood flame ups from the grill or oven.
- If you plan on using the plank for extended periods of time (over and over), you should soak at for least 4 hours, but possibly up to 24 hours. You do not want the plank to dry out and go to flame.
- Soak your plank in wine, beer, liqueur, or a fruit-based cider or vinegar to add extra flavor as it will be steamed into the meat, fish, etc. as it cooks.
- Use olive oil or a specialty oil to brush on the smooth side of the plank. This reduces the sticking factor and it also adds a little extra flavor.
- You will want to cook your planked food in a covered grill. You can also cook them on any type grill—gas or charcoal—or in the oven.
- While cooking on the grill, let your meat cook for a bit (usually somewhere between 20-40 minutes for most foods though check recipes). Check after minimum cook time often. If in doubt, check often!
- Use a water spray bottle to take down any flames that may be attracted to the planks. This is why it is suggested to cook using the indirect method.
- When cooking meat or poultry, these foods release juices that run onto the plank. Use these to re-baste the meat or poultry as it cooks.
- If you are using the plank method in the oven, simply soak the plank as described and place in a rimmed cookie tray. Fill tray 1/2 inch with cider vinegar or some other medium that would enhance the flavor of what you are cooking (or part water, part vinegar/wine, etc). The key in oven planking is to make sure that you have liquid (that 1/2 inch) in the baking tray to keep the plank moist and prevent drying out. You can use plain water for the whole amount.
- You can serve your planked food as is on heat resilient surfaces/plates.
- You can platter them on a heat-resistant platter and serve.
- Planked food makes a wonderful presentation because of its unique 'boarded' appearance.