This is the definitive planking recipe! A Northwestern favorite is, and will always be Wild Salmon grilled on a Western Red Cedar Grilling Plank.
The grocery list for this recipe is short.
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1 Cedar Grilling Plank
Wild Caught Salmon
Garlic Salt + Fresh Ground Pepper
So, how does plank cooking actually work? The salmon is cooked and picks up the cedar flavor in two ways:
Steam: When the soaked plank is placed on the hot grill, it releases an aromatic steam which infuses the salmon with a fresh cedar flavor.
Smoke: Wood + Heat = Smoke.
In this case, it is spicy, fragrant cedar smoke, which helps cure the outside of the fish, which further helps lock in the moisture. The end result of planking salmon is perfectly cooked fish- and a lot of flavor without over-drying.
The do’s and don’ts of cedar plank grilling…
First, the don’t:
Don’t oil the plank. Oiling the plank causes flames and excess heat, extra calories, and negates one of the best parts of cedar planked salmon; the clean and painless removal of the fish skin. When the fish is done, you can just slip a spatula between the fish and the skin for easy removal.
Now, the Do’s:
Soak your plank. An hour should do it. Use a baking dish or a clean cooler to soak your plank. Just remember to weight it down with something heavy to keep it submerged. Occupy as much of the surface area as possible with your fish. If your salmon fillet is approximately 5 inches by 11 inches, go for a tight fit and use a 6x12 plank.
Brine: Dissolve ½ cup salt in 6 cups of water, then add your fish to the solution for 1 hour. The brine helps prevents the fish from “weeping.” You know, the white stuff that seeps out of the fish during the cooking process.
Season: There is a nice alchemy between salmon, garlic, and brown sugar so keep the seasoning simple. Just rub the fish with freshly minced garlic, then pack the top with a bit of brown sugar. The brown sugar caramelizes the fish and helps maintain the color of the fish. Use salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.
Once your plank is soaked, your fish is brined, and the seasonings are in place, it’s time to put it all to the heat. Place your plank with the seasoned salmon on the grill at 450 degrees. Cook with the lid closed (to keep in all that flavorful smoke) until the fish is done to your liking.
If your salmon fillet is an inch thick, this process should take less than 10 minutes.
Enjoy: Remove salmon from the grill, garnish with fresh herbs and lemon and enjoy!
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