When cruising in the Pacific Northwest, you're never at a loss for fresh, wild-caught salmon, rather, fresh ways to prepare it. So when I received my first set of cedar planks as a Christmas gift, I was quickly inclined to give them a whirl. I found two things to be true. One, the delicious and easy recipe you’re about to obtain belongs in a Michelin-star restaurant as much as it does in your galley; and two, few truly great things in life come easily, but one of those things is grilled cedar plank salmon. It replicates a technique that was pioneered by Native Americans, who roasted fish and game on aromatic wood planks.
If you’ve never cooked with cedar planks, you’ve been missing out. They’re an affordable solution to creating a delicious wood-smoked flavor without all the heavy smoking artillery, which as we all know comes at a premium when you’re on the hook at, say, Poets Cove. They work because as fish steams during cooking, it will absorb some of the woodsy flavors from the cedar plank board, effortlessly resulting in some amazing tasting fish. Just soak the planks in water for at least two hours before grilling. Best of all, if the cedar board is still intact after grilling, it can be reused.
The great thing about salmon is that you can watch the color of the fish change as it cooks, so it’s easy to tell when it’s cooked to your desired doneness. Simply watch the colors of the salmon as it cooks and use a fork to gently test if the layers will flake away easily. Remove from the heat to rest when it’s finished. Keep in mind that the salmon will continue to a cook a little as it rests on the hot cedar plank.
1 salmon fillet, 2 to 3 lbs.
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh dill, minced
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced thin
• Soak a cedar plank in water, weighting it with something heavy (like a brick) so it stays submerged for at least two hours.
• Place cedar plank on a grill, close the lid, and heat until the plank begins to smoke and crackle.
• Brush skin side of the salmon with olive oil until coated. Combine remaining olive oil, garlic, dill and pepper in a small bowl and rub over skinless side of the salmon to coat.
• Place the salmon, skin side down, on the plank and arrange the lemon slices on top of the fish. Close the lid and grill until the salmon is cooked through, 8-10 minutes, and flakes easily with a fork. Transfer the plank with the salmon to a heatproof platter and serve immediately.