Cedar Plank Salmon.
Do you know about cooking on a wooden plank? It’s a great way to cook fish!
You can find these nifty wooden cooking boards in many stores these days. My grocery store, Costco, and Williams Sonoma all carry them. If you look around you can find them pretty cheaply on line too. The cedar ones are the most popular but you can find several other varieties like maple, oak, hickory, and even cherry.
I bought some at a farmer’s market once that I’m pretty sure came from Home Depot. If you go that route, just be absolutely positive that the wood is clean and hasn’t been sprayed or treated in any way.
The beauty of the planks is that as they “cook” on the grill, they release their woody aroma and infuse your fish with the scent and flavor of cedar. They also keep the fish protected from the grill so it stays moist and tender.
You can go very simply with a good piece of fish seasoned with a little salt & pepper or make a tangy topping like I have here.
Besides the planks, here’s what you need:
Salmon, Whole Grain Mustard, Brown Sugar, Rosemary Sprigs, Salt & Pepper.
This is not just any salmon, it’s Copper River Salmon! Available for a very limited time every year and SO GOOD it will ruin you for eating other salmon.
If you are a fish lover and have never had Copper River Salmon, trust me on this one. Stop reading right now and go try to buy some. It is usually available only a few weeks a year in the early summer. It is dark, dark red, not fishy at all, and incredible sweet. I’m going back to buy more tomorrow.
This dish comes together very quickly but first you need to soak your cedar plank for at least 20 minutes. As you can see, I’ve cut my plank in half since the portion of fish I’m cooking is small. The planks are a one use only item so there’s no need to waste a whole plank when you only need half.
Fill up the sink or a big mixing bowl with water and submerge the plank for 20 minutes. You can soak it longer but 20 minutes will do the trick for fish.
Season the salmon with salt & pepper.
If you can’t find Copper River Salmon, look for other wild caught varieties like Sockeye. I am not a fan of that farm raised, color added stuff that passes for salmon at most stores and restaurants. If good salmon isn’t available or isn’t your thing, halibut or snapper would also be great choices.
Mix equal parts of whole grain mustard and brown sugar. For 2 servings of fish I’m using about 2 teaspoons each.
Stir the mustard and sugar together and coat the top of the salmon
For a little added flavor, I’ve placed 3 nice fresh sprigs of rosemary on top too.
Preheat your grill to a medium high heat. I have a pretty big gas grill so I light 3 burners on high to preheat for 5-7 minutes.
You can also cook this in the oven if you don’t have access to a grill. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the plank directly on the oven rack. If you’ve used the mustard glaze shown here, you should put a piece of foil on the rack below the plank to catch the drippings.
When the grill is hot, remove your plank from it’s soaking bath and place the seasoned salmon on top.
Turn the grill down to medium and place the plank directly on the heat. You want the flame to be hot enough to get the board to smolder but not so hot that it catches on fire.
As the fish cooks, the water from soaking the plank releases the most amazing cedar infused steam into the fish. It also releases cedar infused steam into the air attracting the attention of your neighbors.
Because of the plank, the fish will take longer to cook than it would if placed directly on the grill. Depending on the thickness of your fish, it should take about 15-20 minutes to cook. You can test for doneness by pressing gently on the top of the fish. If it feels fairly firm, it is done. If it still feels a little squishy, cook it a little longer.
You can also take a look at the side of the fish and see that the color changes to a lighter shade as the fish cooks. When in doubt, cut the fish in half or into serving pieces right on the plank. If it is not quite done to your liking, you can always put it back on the grill for a few more minutes.
When I’m making this for company, I like to serve the fish right on the plank and cut it at the table. That gives everyone a chance to ooh and ahh over the amazing cedar aroma wafting from the plank.
The rosemary that cooked on the salmon is probably pretty crispy so I remove it and garnish with a fresh green sprig.
Copper River Salmon cooked on a cedar plank is absolutely one of my favorite dishes. Go NOW while you can find it fresh in the stores! It won’t be around for very long.
Once you’ve cooked on a plank, I guarantee you’ll be hooked!
Here’s the recipe: