Cooking Salmon on a Cedar Plank – Much easier than I thought!

I’ve always been fascinated with this method for cooking salmon.

The resulting fillets are just so moist, so tender and so deliciously fragrant, all infused with that delicate sweet and smoky aroma.

However, for some reason, I imagined that it was extremely complicated to do this at home, with the soaking of the planks and what not, so I sort of always left it to others to take care of it for me.

Cedar Plank Salmon | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Others as in professional chefs, I mean.

But there came a day in the life of this foodie when she really craved a piece of salmon cooked on a cedar plank and she just couldn’t be bothered to go out and sit in restaurant and spend an hour eating all by her lonesome…

So she started reading up on the subject and soon came to realize that there really wasn’t much to it.

Cedar Plank Salmon | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

It basically all comes down to this:

First, head out to your favorite hardware or even grocery store and buy wooden planks of the desired essence (they have several available now, such as cedar, maple, birch, oak, cherry, apple or even hickory).

If you want to cook individual fillets like I did, cut your wooden planks to desired size. I cut my 12” x 7” planks into 2 pieces of 6” x 7”.

Cedar Plank | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Soak said wooden planks for at least 2 hours prior to “grilling” your fish. You can soak them in plain water, fruit juice, white or red wine, cider, sake or even tea. Some people also like to add fresh herbs, spices, a splash of vinegar, a few slices of lemon / lime / orange or other flavouring components to their soaking liquid. Feel free to use whatever you want, so long as it’s humid! I chose to use plain tap water.

Preheat your grill to medium heat (about 350F).

Cedar Plank Salmon | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

While this is happening, prep and season your salmon fillet. If you want individual fillets, now is the time to cut it into pieces of approximately 225 grams. Do not remove the skin. Just sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper and rub it all over the entire surface of the fish. Yes, on the skin side too.

Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s near you, know that their Flower Pepper works wonderfully with this!

Take your planks out of the water and place your fish onto them, skin side down. I decided to add a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme on top of my fish.

Cedar Plank Salmon | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Place the planks on the grill, close the lid and cook for 12-15 minutes, depending on size and thickness of your fish. Make sure to check for doneness from time to time. The fish is done when it’s uniformly pink and no longer translucent in the center (although I like mine to retain just a little hint of translucence)

Cedar Plank Salmon | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

I chose to serve my salmon directly on the cedar plank, with a side of multi-colored carrots. A handful of chopped parsley made them all nice and pretty (and quite tasty too!)

Cedar Plank Salmon | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Multi-Colored Carrots | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

If you prefer, you can also remove your fish from the plank and place it directly in a serving plate.

The easiest way to do that is to run a spatula between the flesh and the skin. The skin should stick to the plank and you’ll be able to lift your filet without breaking it.

Cedar Plank Salmon | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

If you want more of a smoky flavor, you can also place the planks directly on the preheated grill for 2 minutes, turning them once after one minute. When the planks start crackling, they are ready to use. At this point, just place your fish directly on the planks as you did with the previous method.

I am so trying that next time!

Oh, and it might be a good idea to keep a spray bottle filled with water handy in order to extinguish flames in the event that the planks start to burn…

Cedar Plank Salmon | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

After grilling, wash the planks in soapy water and let dry for future use. Most planks can be used 3-4 times before they become unusable.

A neat trick is to soak them and place them in plastic bags in the freezer, that way they are ready to use the next time you get a sudden craving for cedar plank salmon!

Need I tell you that I did just that? There’s just no saying when the craving will hit again!

 

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Comments

  1. Ann says

    So, funny story about the first time I tried plank grilling. I have an under-mounted sink. Filled up one compartment half-way to soak the planks. Went to a movie. Came home. Sink was no longer attached to the counter. Yummy dinner was cancelled so an emergency trip to Home Depot could be made. I don’t even remember if we ended up doing anything with the planks. But I haven’t attempted sense.

  2. pluvk says

    Thank you! I’ve been wondering about this cooking method, and you make it look so simple! Maybe I’ll have to pick up some cedar planks next time I’m in Home Depot. ;-)

  3. Eha says

    Sugar, when I look at the marvel and fun of this and wonder as to the difference in taste, I cannot imagine how I have lived in such a cocoon! Drat!!! Well, if you can buy such planks in most stores in Canada, it is I who is backward and surely not Oz?! When shopping next week . . . This seriously sounds easy and looks yum and I just have to try!

    • says

      I’m sure you can find the planks there too, Eha. Just make sure you don’t buy wood that’s been treated with chemicals… Here, they’re all over the place. You can even find them in grocery stores in the fish and seafood department. I hope you find a decent plank and give the method a try. Then you HAVE to tell me how you liked it! :D

  4. says

    This is a wonderfully juicy and tender salmon. I am not a huge salmon fan (well, I love the smoked one), but I would love to try that fish form the pics :-). And I have a cedar plank that I used once and I was not sure if I could use it again. Now I know I can! Great recipe. Thanks, Sonia!

    • says

      Hehe, pleasure is all mine, Elana! Now get that plank out and grill yourself some salmon, will you? As for me, I will get some smoked salmon out of the freezer ‘cuz you just gave my brain a craving for the stuff. Smoked salmon, cucumber and Greek yogurt. Oh yeah, that will be happening soon! :)

  5. says

    That’s honestly the only way I can make salmon. Cedar planks with a good seasoning and lemon slices all over it. The flavor is delicious – even my 4 year old gobbles it up.

    • says

      Check it out here. If you have access to it, you should definitely give it a try.

      Sadly, I have a bottle that was given to me by a good friend of mine but it’s almost empty now and I can’t get more. Well, not until I get to pay a visit to the States, that is…

      Guess I’ll have to try and make my own in the meatime. ;)

  6. says

    Hi Sonia! This is THE ONLY way that I barbeque my salmon… it is so easy and the salmon is so delish and moist! The trick is to make sure that one soaks the plank long enough – the longer the better! (you mentioned 2 hours and that is a good length of time). I too love my salmon a wee bit on the translucent side – probably a bit more underdone than most people like it unless they are sushimi fans… I have to say I really dislike overdone salmon and my experience in restaurants is that most over cook it and it comes out very dry. YUCK! Thanks for sharing this :)
    Cath

    • says

      Totally agree with you Cathy! Most restaurants cook their salmon a wee bit too much for my taste. That’s why I’m so glad that I can now make my own!

      Have you tried keeping your planks in the freezer? If so, do you find that it keep the planks moist enough?

      I so can’t wait to give this another go! I’ve got 2 planks in the freezer, just waiting to get warmed up! ;)

  7. Carolyn says

    I enjoyed your post on cedar plank salmon as I recently tried it myself and got rave reviews from the fam. In fact, my dad won’t stop talking about it. I cooked it a little different than you did and thought I would share. My method kind-of turns the grill into a temporary smoker which lends to a smokier flavor on the fish.

    When ready to cook, place the soaked plank on the hot grate and leave it until there is a smell of smoke, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the plank over and place the fish on top. Cover the grill and cook until the fish is cooked through. If the edges of the plank start to catch fire, mist with water, or move the plank to a cooler part of the grill (I moved to a cooler part of the grill).

    • says

      Oh my! Thank you so much Lisa… I am totally flushed! That is just so incredibly nice of you to say. You totally rock! Thanks! :D

      Hope you try the cedar plank technique. It really is worth the extra trouble!

  8. says

    Salmon is my favorite food!! Thanks for such a great post on how to use the plank. I have one at home that I need to try.

  9. William Yusep says

    I have never used the plank method (oh, bye the way,not so sure it would be a good idea to use soap to wash a board your going to reuse, the wood will absorb the soap, even if you rince it).But I do have an excellent way to cook salmon that I like: Heat up your BBQ real hot, add mesquite chips to get some good smoke going, throw a filet of salmon (skin on) on the grill, slathered with your fav nice chunky salsa sauce, med spicy, mixed with a good amount of butter and garlic (warmed up on the stove).Then cook the salmon lid down, 10 min per inch of thickness. When done (take a peek,its done when you can just flake it with a fork) then,take a spatula, and gently lift the salmon off the skin on to your fav salmon plater, and voila, the best salmon you will ever have tasted. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

    • says

      I don’t know about that, William… I wash my wooden cutting board with soap all the time, I don’t see what else I could wash it with… Cedar planks are no different, are they? ;)

      I like your method, however I would definitely leave the garlic butter out. Salsa? Maybe. Might be a little too overpowering for my taste. But I love the idea of adding the wood chips to create some sort of a “smoker” effect. Thanks much for the inspiration. I shall definitely give that a try! :)

      • says

        Oh my goodness!! This is too funny! William (Bill) is my brother (younger) who lives way up in the NWT and we rarely get to see each other with my husband and I living in Calgary. We both obviously have good taste in food blogs to follow! Bill and I used to have cook-offs in our family kitchen back in Edmonton or at the lake cottage as he and I were the siblings most interested, at that time, in cooking. He always won in the fish department!

        Oh and I do use a cedar plank for my salmon and have used it and saved it many times (although it’s getting a bit too burned so I may have to pick another one up for our next salmon I’m thinkin’)… and have never washed it… ever! The cedar plank does have a much rougher surface and it would be tougher to get rid of the soap – yucky taste! The high heat of the barbeque will get rid of any nasties anyway, I reckon!
        :)
        Cath

      • says

        That is so funny indeed! What were the odds, really? I feel really honoured that you would both follow my blog and take the time to interact! :D

        Judging by the description of his fish dish, I can totally see why he would always win the fish cook-offs. It does sound absolutely delicious! I’m sure if I’d had the dish in front of me, I wouldn’t have been able to resist having a taste, despite the garlic butter!

        And for the time being, I don’t have a problem with using soap to wash my cedar planks, since I’ve only used them once. Who knows, I might change my mind after the next time I use them! ;) I’ll keep you posted! :D

  10. says

    AAH! I love salmon! The only wild salmon I’ve found here is this terrible mushy stuff that they feed to sled dogs it’s so bad. I rarely get the farmed stuff, but it’s SO SO good. I wish I could find a delicious piece of salmon like that! And these pictures are incredible. Especially the pictures of the cooked salmon. Such a pretty color and the lighting is amazing. :)

    • says

      Thanks so much Erin. I have to admit that I particularly like these pictures myself. They make my own mouth water and they never fail to make me crave a piece of salmon. I get the feeling that I wouldn’t really like living in Germany. The food there doesn’t seem to be in line with what I like to eat. And no grills… seriously! ;)

  11. Lexie says

    Um, you’re never suppose to wash cedar planks with soap because the wood absorbs the soap. The same way the cedar absorbs the flavors of what its soaked with. A by-product of this could be salmon that tastes like soap, or worse….

    • says

      Still… I think I prefer to give my planks a quick wash in hot water with a little bit of dishwasing liquid. I don’t let them soak in it. Just wash and rinse. I don’t think that the soap would have much time to absorb… I sort of feel that without the soap, there would be too big a risk of bacteria developping, and I’d like to avoid that! :)

  12. lacey says

    Great post! Thanks for sharing! For those concerned about washing plank in soap, I did hear others recommend rinsing board with coarse salt, lemon and vinegar….hope that helps!

  13. D says

    This may be a silly question, but, is it dangerous to leave cedar planks on a grill like that? Can they catch on fire? This recipe sounds so good, I really want to try it but i’m nervous.

    • says

      It can happen… that’s why you want to soak your cedar planks nice and good before using them, as well as keep a spray bottle handy. And if you use the indirect heat method, there is a lot less chance of your planks catching fire. Still, you need to keep a close eye on them! ;)

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