How To Prepare The Cedar Planks
Raw cedar planks are a great way to get some smokey flavor into salmon for a quick grill.
With this method you arent actually smoking the fish, rather you are cooking or baking it fairly quickly.
First things first, we need to soak the planks in water for at least an hour before we use them. This is going to stop them from catching fully alight and ruining your fish.
Once they have been soaking for an hour, place the planks directly over the lit charcoal for 10 minutes to blacken the cedar on one side to the point where the plank starts to split.
Then it is ready to be used.
Once your salmon is ready you can move the plank away from the direct heat and onto the cooler cooking zone of your BBQ, place the salmon skin-side down on the charred side of the cedar plank.
Salmon In Barbecue Sauce
Although the combination of barbecue sauce and salmon may sound unfavorable, the results are opposite. In addition to improving the overall look of the dish, the barbecue sauce enhances the taste of the grilled salmon. You can either pour the sauce over the grilled salmon while cooking it or serve it as a dipping sauce at the table. Either way, the sauce will add to the taste of the salmon and make it even more delicious.
Selecting The Right Salmon
Fresh is always best, especially when it comes to seafood.
For this recipe, you can either buy fillets or get a whole fish and then fillet it yourself .
If you decide to select a whole fish it can be a little easier as you really just need to look at the eyes and if they are not cloudy and there is no real fishy smell, it is fresh.
When dealing with fillets, make sure that it smells fresh, none of that overly fishy smell, not greasy to touch. The best way is to go to a fishmonger or market and deal directly with them.
When selecting fillets to cook, I always ask for similar sized pieces, this ensures they will cook evenly and Im not rotating pieces on the grill or starting some later than others.
If I can, Ill ask if it is known as the 2nd cut piece. It is located between the tail section which is thinner and the top loin, loin, and belly pieces.
If you cannot get enough second cut pieces, most places will have fillet pieces of top loin, loin, and belly altogether and these will do just fine.
The fish from Crowd Cow is also top quality if you prefer to get yours delivered.
- Boning or trimming knife
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Do I Have To Soak The Plank
Yes, absolutely, 100%. Its very important that you soak the plank because if its dry, it will ignite over the hot charcoal or fire. The point of cooking salmon on the plank is also to steam it, so the wood should be thoroughly wet. Give it at least an hour submerged in water, but you can also soak it for 2 hours before cooking.
Tools Needed For Cedar Plank Salmon:
- Cedar Planks. Cedar planks are easy to find at every home improvement store and mega store. Anyplace that sells grilling stuff will have these. You’ll need 2 if you plan on making 4 filets. Some grilling experts swear by fancy and expensive ones. I find the cheap ones to make this recipe taste amazing and am perfectly happy with them.
- Grill. I use a gas grill because that’s the only way I am able to control the heat. But if you are a charcoal master…go for it. You just want to be able to keep the heat fairly consistent.
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What Else Can You Grill On A Cedar Plank
There’s no hard and fast rule about what you can and cannot grill on a cedar plank, and you’re only limited by your imagination. Asparagus and broccoli are great vegetable options, and one of our favorite more creative things to cook on a plank is Steven Raichlen’s grilled eggplant parmigiana from his book, How to Grill Vegetables. Tofu also works exceptionally well due to its ability to absorb smoky flavors.
What Is The Best Type Of Salmon To Eat
Wild-caught Pacific salmon are typically considered to be the healthiest salmon to eat. Both are fine to eat, but you should understand the differences in how they are raised and decide what is best for you.
According to livestrong.com, wild salmon swim between freshwater and the open ocean, consuming a varied diet of zooplankton and smaller fish. Farmed salmon are raised in pens and fed fishmeal, fish oil, and other protein-rich foods. While both types are rich in omega-3 fatty acids , farmed varieties typically have larger amounts of unhealthy saturated fats over their counterparts.
We have just recently started to buy Pacific salmon instead of farmed versions, and are surprised to find that they are still very tasty. In fact, we are starting to prefer it.
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Char The Plank Separately
Preheat the grill to medium-high, about 400 to 450°F . Place the water-soaked plank on the grill grates close the lid. When the plank begins to smoke and lightly char, about 7 to10 minutes, flip over and remove from the grill to begin salmon preparation. This charring step allows the wood to transfer more smokey flavor before the salmon starts to cook.
How To Make Cedar Plank Salmon Two Ways
Follow the same steps for soaking the planks and glazing the salmon, then choose to cook your salmon in the oven or on the grill. Both methods create flaky, tenderly satisfying salmon every time!
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Big Green Egg Cedar Plank Salmon
We are salmon lovers, and since it is on the healthy list, I try to make it at least every other week. During our kitchen remodel, Mike and I ate it EVERY week, because the grill was one of our main cooking resources .
I was first introduced to Cedar Grilling Planks while visiting my sister and fam in Colorado. They made the BEST cedar plank salmon for our large extended family during one of our many trips to visit them. Jackie and Craig really know how to entertain, and they prove that easy is usually best. THIS recipe is exactly thateasy.
We also love grilling this on our Big Green Egg, as it provides amazing taste. We love to throw on a few smoked chips as well to give it a smoky flavor. Really nothing better! If you are shopping for a grill, I highly recommend the BGE!
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Step #3 Prep The Salmon
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Cedar Plank Salmon Faq
How should you store leftovers?
This is fish, so unless you are going to serve it in something like our Salmon Orzo Pasta Salad or adding it to a sauce, I think you should try and NOT have leftovers. Fish is best served fresh.
How should you reheat leftover salmon?
Ideally, you dont want to have leftover salmon. Fish is definitely the best when it is freshly caught and fresh-cooked, so unless youll be using these leftovers cold in a salad or in a sauce that can gently reheat the fish without destroying the quality or overcooking it.
Whats a good substitute for the Lemon-Thyme Rub?
If you dont have the Lemon Thyme Whitefish rub, you can make one of your own with lemon pepper, garlic powder, ground thyme, and a little onion powder.
What if you dont have a pellet grill?
If you dont have a pellet grill, you can use any smoker, gas or charcoal grill, or whatever youd like! You can even use the oven to make these if thats what is convenient. Follow the same instruction, and just try and run close to the same times and temps as is listed in the recipe below.
What Do Cedar Planks Do For Salmon
The warm plank allows the inside of the fish to gently steam and the cedar plank actually becomes a type of barrier between the grill and the fish. As the cedar plank heats up and the fish begins to cook, the moisture from the plank rises up and infuses the fish with the flavor of cedar. The result is a gorgeous grilled flavor on the outside of the salmon with a perfectly steamed center.
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Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon
Soak cedar plank in water for at 1-2 hours.
In a small bowl combine soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, grated ginger, and red pepper flakes, whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour 1/2 of the marinade over fish until well coated. Marinade in refrigerator for up to 2 hours.
Heat a small saucepan on medium low heat and add the remaining marinade mixture. Whisk in the cornstarch until dissolved. Simmer sauce for 3-5 minutes or until thickened.
Heat charcoal or gas grill on medium heat, Place soaked cedar plank on top of flames. Heat plank for 1-2 minutes then flip and heat another 1-2 minutes. Place salmon skin side down on cedar plank. Season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat for about 12-15 minutes. Or until the salmon is just opaque in the center and flakes with a fork.
Brush some extra sauce on, add salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon if desired. Serve over rice.
The Perfect Side For Cedar Plank Salmon
We need something fresh and flavorful to go with this salmon. I can think of nothing better than a celery and parmesan salad that is super quick and easy to make but packs so much flavor.
You need to thinly slice up some celery stalks and place in a bowl, along with some chopped up celery leaves, some extra virgin olive oil, some lemon zest and juice and celery salt and pepper.
This just needs a gentle toss and then add some shaved Parmesan cheese and give the whole lot a gentle mix and place in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.
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Cedar Plank Salmon Recipe
In our cooking classes here at the Weber Grill Restaurant, we have showcased this recipe a number of years, with great success. One of our key tips is that you want to purchase salmon from the freshest of a source as possible.
Look for busy fish markets, or stores that specialize in seafood, so the inventory is constantly being replaced with fresh catch. When cooking this simple recipe, the raw ingredients need to shine.
What Is A Cedar Plank
A cedar plank is a piece of wood that is specifically used for grilling in order to add a distinct flavor to your food. It is common to use different planks of wood on the grill to infuse your food with a smokey, woody flavor. Cedar is usually used for fish, but you can get all types of different wood planks.
Before using your cedar plank on the grill, you have to soak them in water. I usually soak mine for at least 2 hours. Once they are soaked, you can place them on indirect heat on the grill before placing your salmon burgers on top.
You can find cedar planks at Walmart, , or even Lowes. If you are a grilling fan, I recommend giving this a try and seeing if you like it! If you decide to go without the cedar plank, try grilling these in a cast iron skillet instead.
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How Long To Grill Salmon On A Cedar Plank
The amount of time your salmon is on the grill depends on the size and thickness of your fillet. We have had the best results with a larger piece, that you cut later, but if you only have smaller fillets on hand just cook for a shorter amount of time. A full large piece of salmon will take about 20-minutes. Single pieces will take about 15-minutes.
What Does A Cedar Plank Do For Salmon
The benefits of grilling salmon with a cedar plank run deep. First, the plank acts as a barrier between the fish and hot coals or gas burner. This prevents burning or sticking to the grill grate when you put the salmon on the grill.
Next, and more importantly, as the plank smolders it infuses a mild, almost sweet smoky flavor into the salmon as it cooks. The cedar will smell amazing as it smolders and that smell, youll actually taste it in the fish. For that reason alone, its worth it to use a cedar plank for fish.
Another fun benefit of grilling on a cedar plank is the presentation. After removing the planks from the grill, use them as a serving vessel. Flaking the freshly grilled salmon right off the cedar plank adds a rustic element to the meal.
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Sweet & Spicy Brown Sugar Salmon Rub Recipe
Four simple ingredients make up the brown sugar salmon spice rub for this cedar plank salmon: brown sugar for sweetness , smoked paprika for a bit of smoky spice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Simply stir them together well with a fork, and its ready to go.
You can even prepare this easy grilled salmon seasoning rub ahead of time to keep it on hand. Just store it in an airtight container. Then give it a shake before using to make sure the ingredients are well-mixed.
P.S. This salmon dry rub is also pretty tasty on grilled chicken thighs and/or pork chops, as well. Grill them right alongside your salmon for non-fish lovers!
Cedar Planks For Heat Control
The other advantage to the Pacific Northwest method of cedar plank cooking is heat management. Unless you do everything just right when you grill salmon, it is easy to have the fish stick to the grill or overcook in the direct heat. By placing the salmon on a wooden plank, you create an insulative barrier under the fish that will help keep it from overcooking.
Of course, you dont just pick up a fence slat from your local big box hardware store. Your cedar plank needs to be made of untreated woodwe want natural essential oils getting in our food, not chemical treatments for weatherproofing! You can often find the proper slats at good butchers, many grocery stores, or your local BBQ specialty store.
And you dont just slap some fish on there and throw it on the fire . You need to soak the wood for a couple of hours before you cook. Soaking prevents the plank from bursting into flame as soon as the fire licks it and it creates a heat-mitigating atmosphere in its immediate vicinity, i.e. around your fish.
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How To Prep Your Salmon
The first thing you’ll want to do, as with most any fish, is give it a good thorough pat-down with a clean dish towel or a few paper towels to get rid of any excess moisture.
Then add your marinade, rub, and/or seasoning to your salmon any way you would like. I like making a marinade of dijon mustard, brown sugar, some fresh dill, and a little sea salt or seasoning salt. Whether you go for a dry rub or a marinade, make sure to coat the flesh of the fish evenly. The skin doesn’t necessarily need marinating, but there are different schools of thought on that, so to each our own. A little olive oil or butter on the skin does help keep it from sticking.
About The Cedar Wood Plank
Cedar is the most common wood associated with planking. However, this fragrant softwood doesnt hold the monopoly on the grill. Adler and cherry are also worthy considerations.
The key to cooking on wood is to ensure the wood is food safe. No matter how inviting the local hardware stores lumber selection is, stick with appropriately sourced wood explicitly made for grilling. Youll most likely find it at your local grocery store.
Can a plank be reused? Absolutely! I often get two or three cooks from a single plank. Just clean off the skin and any residue with soap and water. As long as the plank didnt take on too much heat, its up for a repeat performance.
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