Cedar plank salmon was always on restaurant menus when I lived in Canada. It’s a traditional technique of cooking fish sides over fire using a split branch, or in this case a wood plank as a heat deflector to allow the fish to bake and not just char!
A couple of key pointers to remember are to soak the flavoured wood plank in water for a couple of hours as this will rehydrate the wood and when heated allow the natural flavours to release in the food as the water turns to steam.
Secondly wood has a combustion point, so don’t be surprised if a plank begins to smoke and burn if you get it too hot! I’m a big fan of using roasting heat for plank cooking and find that the lower the cooking temperature the more flavour you will impart into the finished dish. I’ve roasted no higher than 200c / 395f hundreds of times and have never had a wood plank catch fire on one of my barbecues.
The third thing is that the traditional combination is cedar with salmon and this goes back to what’s prevalent in Oregon, and Washington in the States, and British Columbia, Canada. The flavour of a board will be at it’s strongest during the first cook and will begin to subside over successive cooks. Don’t throw the board away though as you can now begin to add flavour with other liquids. As long as you can soak it and sit food on it, you can use the board on your barbecue. One cool thing I’ve done once the natural flavour as gone is to soak the wood in liquids such as wine, beer or an infused stock. Don’t always believe the packaging when it tells you they only last 1 or 2 cooks!
- 500g skinned salmon fillet
- sea salt flakes and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 lemon, sliced
- fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 cedar cooking board, soaked for 2 hours
- Setup your barbecue for a 175c / 350f roasting heat, lid down and vents open as applicable.
- Place the salmon on the board “skin-side” down and season the top with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the slices of lemon along the top of the salmon with the sprigs of fresh thyme.
- Open the barbecue and place the cedar plank salmon on the grill in the area of roasting heat. Close the lid and cook for approx 25 minutes, or until the core temperture of the fish reaches 62c / 145f.
- Remove the plank and salmon from the barbecue and place on a heat resistant mat in the middle of a table. Maybe serve with my pea, bean, asparagus and parmesan salad, some crusty bread and a glass of white wine, and enjoy!
To use the boards again simply wash in hot soapy water to remove food debris and drain dry. When ready to use again soak for 2 hours then place cooking side down on the barbecue over a grilling heat for 3-4 minutes to sterilise the cooking surface. Turn over, place in an area of roasting heat with the food on top and cook as per the recipe.
One Final Thing
When you feel the board really has seen better days why not chop it up with a kindling axe and use it to create delicious smokey flavours on your next BBQ!
*Not an Ad – The best value Cedar planks I have found available on the web are here.