With all the sprouts spawning green leaves and the smell of fresh growth in the air, I often am drawn to bring a little nature into the kitchen. This often leads me to find any excuse to cook with natural wood, which delivers that subtle earthiness and structured tannins. I find the best way into the world of wood in the kitchen is Cedar Plank Salmon. This is a time-tested technique that draws you out to nature to cook on the grill, the way it’s meant to be.
Often the issue with many is the cost of purchasing the planks of wood (there are many more then just Cedar) from specialty stores or online gourmet sites. The simple solution is to drive down to the local home improvement store and purchase an untreated board and cut it to your desired length. Once acquiring the board, the only question is whether to grill it or roast it in the oven?
A few after the fire critiques: remember to soak the plank for at least an hour, more if you have the time. You should get a few rounds of grilling per plank so don’t throw them away. Remember to check your salmon for bones and you can serrate the flesh into portions to allow it to cook quicker. I also made a Ginger Maple glaze for the salmon (recipe below) but it isn’t needed.
Salmon Fillet (1-2 lbs.)
Maple Syrup (1 Cup)
Lemon Juice (4 ounces)
Soy Sauce (3 Ounces)
Ginger (2 Tbs. minced)
Garlic (2 Cloves smashed)
Pepper and Salt
Cedar Plank (8” x 24” is ideal)
Fine Mesh Strainer
Place the cedar plank in water and submerge for a minimum of an hour (4 hours being ideal). I used an empty trashcan and water hose but use what works best for you. Remove from water and wipe dry. Ignite grill and set to medium-high with a target temp of near 300°F. When the grill is heated, place the plank smooth side down and allow it to heat up for 3-5 minutes. Flip over, apply 1-2 Tbs. of EVOO on the smooth side, sprinkle pepper and salt on the plank and then place the salmon skin side down. Apply the glaze over the salmon and then cover to cook. Cook for 20-25 minutes (or until the fish flakes when gentle pressure is applied) continuing to apply additional glaze after 10 minutes and again when the salmon is removed from the grill. Allow the salmon to rest for a few minutes then serve immediately with the remainder of the glaze. Indulge!
Ginger Maple Glaze
Pour all ingredients into the saucepan and heat over medium heat until reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes. Place the glaze through a fine mesh strainer to remove the solids. Reserve till needed.