Recipe: Cedar Plank Salmon
One of our favorite times of year, is the end of May when fresh Copper River Sockeye Salmon is available in our local food market. This is the beginning of fresh "wild", not frozen, salmon that runs sporadically through October. We watch for fresh "wild" salmon to go on sale in order to stock our freezer for the times when it is not available.
I sometimes like to cook fresh wild salmon on a cedar plank. We buy a 6 pack of cedar planks for what I believe is a reasonable price, alternatively, you can purchase a 1x8 board of untreated cedar (ensure it is untreated), then cut it to the lengths you like. The benefit to buying your own board, is a 1" thick piece of cedar can generate a ton of smoke, but I find the thin boards we buy from Costco do just nicely.
Ingredients (for ~4 servings):
wild salmon filet
butter or olive oil
The first step is to soak the cedar plank in water for a minimum of 4 hours. Submerge the plank completely in water, then I use a glass full of water to keep the plank submerged.
Safety Note: Do Not cook with an unsoaked cedar plank or you will have a nasty fire on your hands very quickly. Ensure you have a fire extinguisher handy.
Lay the salmon filet on the soaked board, then you can either add a few dollops of butter (if you can find organic grass fed butter), or spread a thin layer of olive oil across the salmon. Then salt and pepper to taste.
|Preheat your grill, then turn to medium heat and place the plank directly on the grill.
(Alternately, if the cedar plank is well soaked, put the cedar plank onto the grill first, wait a few minutes for it to start smoking, then place the salmon onto the cedar plank while it is still on the grill)
|Depending on how thick the salmon is, the temperature of the grill, and how well done you like your salmon, the cooking time should be between 7 and 12 minutes.
Test for doneness at the thickest part of the salmon by depressing the salmon with your finger. As the salmon cooks, it will start to get firmer, and you will see a slight color change. After a few tries, you will learn how firm you like your salmon. As the salmon is cooked, you will see a white substance coming from the salmon, this is the fat, and a pretty good indication the salmon is cooked. Remember, if you lick your finger after testing the salmon, wash your hands before testing again, or make sure no one is looking!
|Be careful removing the plank after the salmon is cooked as the plank is basically on fire. I have a cookie sheet that I keep by my barbecue for this purpose. I also do not take the plank into the house as it will still be smoking, so I remove the salmon to a separate platter while still outside, then I douse the plank in water so there are no worries about starting a fire.|
The last step is to pair the salmon with your favorite foods. Leftover salmon also makes for some great meals including salmon salad.