“This should be the first recipe every new planker starts with; it’s simple, impressive and delicious.” – Ted Reader
Cedar-planked salmon is one of my family’s favorite dishes. When I first starting making this dish my wife said, "I didn’t know I liked salmon". Since then we’ve made this every chance we get. It turns out extremely moist, flavorful and planked dishes create an excellent presentation of the grilled fish. You’ll also find wood planking is an easy way to add smoked flavor on your charcoal or gas grill. The flavor from the plank transfers best when it’s grilled over direct heat, but I’ve even found planks to be a great way to cook fish even on a pellet smoker since it keeps it from falling apart on your grates and adds a little flavor. The salmon above was planked on a kamado grill and as you can see it makes for a great centerpiece.
This recipe is one of the fantastic recipes from Everyday Gourmet Plank Grilling by chef Ted Reader. This is an amazing 300 page cookbook that is a best-seller commonly referred to as “the definitive guide to plank grilling”. The great hardback copy Teddy sent me has wonderful full-page photos of every recipe and covers everything from the Original Cedar-Planked Salmon (this recipe), to chicken paper wraps, hickory-planked sirloin burgers, planked venison tenderloin with a raspberry glaze, chicken, pizza and even delectable desserts. Literally, this book covers anything you’d want to try with plank grilling and probably more. This would even make a great coffee table book if you can keep it out of your kitchen!
Why Cedar Planks
Cedar was traditionally used by the Pacific Northwest Indians to cook salmon and other types of fish in their smokehouses and fire pits. They would tack the tails of the fish to the large planks and stick them in the ground like stakes around the fire pits. Cedar was used by the Indians due to it’s prevalence, but nearly any hardwood can be used for plank grilling. Alder and Maple are also favorites of mine, but you can find nearly any type of wood at good barbecuing stores or online from companies on Amazon. If you’re just looking for cedar planks you can usually find those in most grocery and home improvement stores where they sell grills.
Choosing a Plank
Planks come in a wide array of shapes and sizes with the most common being roughly 13 x 7 inches. This large rectangle is a good all-purpose size, but you can also get cross-cut rounds and ovals which warp less. You can even get custom-shaped planks and grilling wraps.
You can find some more recommendations and tips for cooking with planks on my plank grilling page.
Yield: Serves 4
Prep time: 1 hours
Cooking time: 15 minutes
1 wood plank soaked in water (Cedar, Alder, etc)
1 large skinless salmon filet, cut
2 tbsp Bone Dust BBQ Seasoning / Salmon Rub (below)
Asparagus/Dill Topping (below)
2 tbsp Plank Seasoning (below)
1 bunch asparagus, steamed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup chopped shallots
2 tbsp olive oil
fresh dill, chopped
sea salt, to taste
NOTE: these next two rubs should provide enough for several planking sessions
Seafood Plank Seasoning
This spice blend can be used by itself with salmon, cheese, steaks, tuna or burgers. For this recipe it adds flavor to the asparagus/dill topping.
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup coarse ground black pepper
1/4 cup kosher or coarsely ground sea salt
3 tbsp granulated onion
2 tbsp mustard seeds, cracked
1 tbsp dried dill weed
1 tbsp dill seed
1 tbsp coriander seed, cracked
1 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
2 tsp granulated garlic
Bone Dust BBQ Seasoning / Salmon Rub
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tbsp salt
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp mild Indian curry powder
2 tbsp dry hot mustard powder (like Keen's or Coleman's)
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1) Presoak your planks in water for 1-4 hours before using. Place a bowl/plate on top to submerge.
2) When I first made this we were out of green onions and dill so I substituted steamed asparagus tips and it has stuck ever since. Even now when I make it I like to cut back on the 1 cup of chopped dill and use just a couple of sprigs of dill so I can still use the asparagus. If you want to do the asparagus you’ll need to steam it first and then chop up the tips and the dark green portion of the spears.
3) Mix all the ingredients for the topping. Use the juice from 1 lemon now and reserve the other lemon for squeezing over the filets just before serving.
4) Preheat the grill to 400°F or medium-high. Season the planks with a little sea salt. Then place the empty wood planks on the grill for 3 to 5 minutes, until it starts to smoke and crackle. This is called “seasoning the plank”. This helps draw out a little flavor from the wood.
5) Cut the salmon into serving-size filets (about 6oz each). This will ensure help in cooking and serving. Liberally rub the salmon filets with the Bone Dust seasoning and place them on the plank so they don’t hang over.
6) Grill for 12 to 15 minutes over direct heat or for 20 to 30 minutes over indirect heat. Keep a water spray bottle next to the grill to spritz the edges if they flame up. It’s completely normal for the plank to char or even catch a little flame. Just a quick spray will put it out.
7) Cook until the the filets register 135°F internal temp on your thermometer or until the salmon flakes slightly when pressed. When using a thermometer take a reading from the thickest part of the salmon.
8) Remove the plank from the grill and let cool for 1 minute. Squeeze the remaining lemon over the planked salmon before serving. Transfer to a fresh plank or place it on a top of a tile to protect your table.