This delicious dish is worth the effort but can hold an element of danger.
Cedar-smoked salmon has been a favored cooking method for years. When paired with a sweet sauce, the salmon achieves the perfect balance of smoky and sweet. However, there are critical tips the chef should know before attempting this dish. Such as, choosing a non-toxic cedar plank for cooking.
What Is Cedar-Planked Salmon?
Cooking salmon on a cedar plank achieves a smokey flavor in the fish that also retains moisture. Grilling salmon on a cedar plank has several benefits. The salmon is easier to handle, as the chef only has to move the stable plank rather than the delicate fish itself. The plank transfers a smokey, wood flavor to the salmon that enhances the dish greatly. And, the juice from the fish stays on the board, versus being lost in between the grill divides. Lastly, this cooking method gets points for aesthetic! Cedar-planked salmon is a beautiful way to present a salmon dish.
The flavors of cedar-planked salmon will differ depending on the salmon toppings you choose. A sweet flavor is always a great compliment to the smokiness that is achieved from the wood.
History of Cedar-Planked Salmon
Cooking salmon on cedar planks originated with Native Americans, who originally used Western Red Cedar. For Native American tribes, cooking salmon on planks was out of necessity and survival. The fish would be split and tacked onto the piece of wood, and then held over an open fire to cook. Eventually, Europeans would be introduced to the technique and would adopt similar practices. Today, many chefs use this method when cooking salmon, as it produced a wonderfully intense flavor profile.
How to Prepare Cedar-Planked Salmon
Cedar-planked salmon isn’t difficult to make. However, it’s crucial to follow the directions when preparing this dish. Some cedar planks can be toxic and dangerous to cook with, so it’s important to purchase a food-friendly piece of cedar plank. When purchasing the cedar plank, it should clearly state if its food safe or not.
- Soak your plank in heavily salted water for two hours. Leave the board wet. Soaking the cedar plank helps to prevent the board from burning on the grill and helps the fish to retain moisture.
- If you have purchased a piece of salmon with the skin on it still, gently remove the skin from the fillet and any bones.
- Salt and pepper both sides of the fillet.
- Mix your ingredients for the marinade. A marinade with lemon and sweet flavors is best for cedar-planked salmon. Try experimenting with fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, lemon zest, brown sugar or maple syrup and garlic.
- Place your fillet with the side that previously had the skin, flat down on the surface.
- Rub the marinade generously all over the top and the sides of the salmon fillet.
- Place the planked salmon onto a grill on medium heat. Grill the salmon, covered, for approximately 20-30 minutes. Monitor the salmon frequently to avoid overcooking.
- Top with fresh herbs such as parsley or dill.
- Serve hot.
For a simple and straightforward recipe, check out Country Living’s “Sweet and Smoky Cedar Planked Salmon.”
Grillmaster Bobby Flay has a recipe with The Food Network that calls for mustard in the marinade and provides cooking method options for medium or high heat.
And this recipe from Wild Wood Grilling puts an Asian twist on the recipe with a Cedar Planked Teriyaki Salmon and a side of grilled pineapple.
For anyone that enjoys salmon skin, Thrifty Foods has a recipe for Whiskey and Maple Cedar Planked Salmon that cooks the salmon whole.
You will notice that almost every variation of cedar-planked salmon recipe you look up always incorporates a sweet-forward dressing to balance the smoky flavors in the dish.
After perfecting the cedar-planked salmon, you’ll never go back to cooking salmon any other way. Planking provides a fish dish that is moist, flavorful and beautifully presented. And the best part is that it’s simple to throw together and cook up. Try this dish at your next bbq for a guaranteed hit.