A number of years ago we were introduce to Cedar Plank Salmon at a neighbors. They had enjoyed this dish at a restaurant and then tried it at home. Since then we have had it more times than I can count, and each time it has bestowed its smokey goodness to us.
The recipe is quite simple and I have shared it with friends on a number of occasions. I have even seen “kits” available in some stores for those without imagination. The “kits” consist of a wimpy 3/8″ plank of cedar and a small bag of spices, mostly salt. I use cedar in many of my carpentry projects from time to time, and usually have a few scraps kicking around. So instead of dropping $12 for a kit…that has $1 worth of wood and 10 cents in spices. I nab a scrap board from the shop. It is common cedar (western red) 3/4″ thick, depending on the former project it can be from 4″ to 8″ wide. If the boards are too narrow to support the fillet I use two boards side by side.
The first step is to cut a piece of wood that will fit the fillet, I normally do this with the band saw. The next step is to soak the board. I fill the sink with about 3-4″ of hot water and place our filled plastic water pitcher on top of the plank to submerge it. Soak the plank for about 20-30 minutes, after the plank is soaked, place the fillet on the wood and set it on the grill. I like to have the plank extend about an inch beyond the fillet….bigger fillets needs bigger planks….. The grill has been preheated for 5-10 minutes and is now at about 50%. Sometimes I use a teriyaki marinade or spice rub but mostly just the plain fillet. Once on the grill close it up and let the magic begin. Its necessary to keep the lid closed, this allows the smoke to work its wonders and keeps it from flaring up.
The photo above was shot just before it was removed from the grill. With the lid up the extra oxygen causes the plank sides to burst into flames…smoke is good flames are not. I have also used a spray bottle to limit flare ups too, keep an eye on it. As some larger fillets will need a longer cook time, the plank can get pretty cooked. The fillet above was an average size and fed both Tori and I. Cooking time about 15 minutes. The inside stays moist and the the smoke provides a nice caramel color.
For a side dish we had slices of tomatoes that were topped with Dublin Cheddar and broiled, we often dress those with a dash of Balsamic Vinegar and pinch of sea salt. Avocados add a third dimension to the flavors.
Sometimes we will have Cedar Plank Salmon on a Caesar Salad, as we do with our grilled chicken. I hope to try this with some chicken some day…but will need to keep a close eye on cooking time. Under cooked salmon is Sushi…under cooked chicken is Salmonella. Some people have also used this method with other woods (apple, hickory, Mesquite) but with cedar scrap handy this has been our primary route.