Homemade is Better—Cedar Plank Salmon

I have wanted to do a cedar plank recipe for a while, and, recently, I finally got to make it.  I enjoy writing recipes because I feel pressure to make them before I write and make sure I get some pictures, it gives us at least a couple suppers for the week.

For this recipe I used thawed, pre-packed fillets—fresh is always going to be superior to previously frozen—but sometimes we need to use what we have around.  If you are feeling chef-like, buy a side of salmon from your local grocer or seafood supplier.  There is a particular member’s only grocery store that tends to have high-quality products, sometimes a life-time supply of it, and you go in trying to buy one thing and spend $500 and forget the stuff you went in for, but its high quality.  If, however, you know someone who operates a seafood store, go there.

Support your local businesses, and these entrepreneurs are the backbone of our communities, and more likely to support community events.  While the large retailers will make money no matter what, the community business is engrained in your area and wants to support your hockey, soccer, tennis, running, ringette, Pickleball, badminton, or tennis team.  It gets them more exposure, and they often employ people from your community.  The big stores do too, and many of them give millions of dollars to charities or unique organizations, so I’m not knocking them, but they’ll survive without your $50 a week.

So, what makes salmon particularly complementary to cedar?  Honestly, nothing.  You can put any fish on a cedar plank, and it’ll taste good.  The cedar adds a very slight smoke flavour; as you grill it, the wood smoke adds a little flavour.  If you have a smoker, cedar with some mesquite mixed with cherry, alder, or apple is a great flavour.  The mesquite is a strong flavour, and the cherry, alder, or apple are milder; combining them with the cedar will be a great smoke taste.  I’d go heavier on the mild woods, and lighter on the mesquite, a 3:1 or 4:1 mild to mesquite would be nice.  You won’t need much either fish cooks quickly and overcooks even faster!

You’ll know its ready for your plate when the salmon starts to flake easily; salmon is a heartier species, you can get away with cooking it to medium doneness.  It certainly should not be cooked until its hard as a rock.  It is medium when it starts to turn white at the top of the meat and separates quite easily, if it’s still very bright pink in the middle, it’s raw, give it another 5 minutes if the rest looks right.  On my grill, the total cook time was 25 – 30 minutes; cooking times in your oven, grill, or heat box for food might be different, so make sure you pay attention to the signs of being done.  Once you’ve hit that point, cover it with foil, give it at least 5 minutes to rest, this gives you time to open that 2017 Bordeaux you bought that you were excited to try!

I’ll give you a garden special next week with our HUGE zucchini’s!

Cedar Plank Salmon

Ingredients

4 – 6 salmon fillets approx.  5oz
1 – 2 Cedar planks
1 TBSP – Kosher Salt
2 Tsp – Pepper ground or Lemon pepper (optional)
½ cup fresh dill (optional)

Directions
  • Soak your cedar planks in cold water, make sure they are submerged as best as you can get. The bottoms need to soak for sure.
  • Turn on your grill and set it to medium heat, and let it warm up.
  • If your salmon is a full side, cut it into as many equal portions as you can about 3 – 4″ each. It’s okay if some are slightly longer than others.
  • If its skin-on, then place the skin-side down.
  • Salt and pepper each piece; both sides if skinless. For an added flavour punch, get some lemon pepper and use it instead of regular pepper.
  • If you also happen to be growing dill, grab a bunch and place it on top.
  • Cook for about 15 minutes, then check on the fish. If its starting turn slightly white that’s good, you might see some white on the sides, that’s okay.  Its protein coagulating on the side.
  • Check it every 5 minutes from here. Once it starts to separate easily and it looks almost dull pink in the middle, remove it from the grill and tin foil it for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Throw away the dill, and enjoy!
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