What’s in the kitchen- Cedar Plank Salmon

This is a favorite of our family and friends. It’s really easy to do and it tastes fantastic for all ages.

The recipe actually starts in the shop, well at least for me. As the title reveals, we are going to need cedar planks. Byerly’s sells 4 medium sized planks for about $16. And if you don’t have the resources, buying the cedar planks is your best option. But I’ve got a few resources at my disposal, so I make my own.

Cedar Planks

Since I’ve done my share of decks, I always have left over cedar in the shop. I keep the bigger scraps to use in my fire pit and for occasions just like this. I use a cedar 6×6 and my table saw. I set the width at around 3/8” and take 2 passes to cut all the way through. (Note: a band saw would be much easier to use if you have one. Also, take care not to overheat your table saw. This type of cutting puts a lot of strain on even the best table saw.) After ripping to width, I trim the planks to fit the fish and to fit my grill. Once the planks are ready, soak the planks in water for at least an hour prior to use, the longer the better.

The Sauce

The sauce recipe is courtesy Guy Fieri & Food Network with a couple of modifications:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 jalapenos, cut into rings
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • (4) 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • Salt & pepper to taste

I have made this recipe at least five times and have used varying preserves/ jams: Orange marmalade, raspberry, blackberry, jalapeno marmalade, apricot. To be honest, there is not a discernible difference in the finished product, so use what ever you have in your pantry. I also use jarred jalapenos because I like more of a heat kick to my sauce.

In a small pan over medium heat, heat the oil. When hot, add jalapenos and saute until caramelized. Add garlic and before it begins to brown, deglaze pan with white wine. Next, add mustard and preserves and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes and let completely cool before using.

Grilling

Prep your grill of choice to hot. I use charcoal, but this will work on a gas grill nicely as well.  Remove the planks from soaking in water. The Food Network recipe calls for skinned salmon fillets. I prefer to use skin on fillets for two reasons: 1) The skin adds a layer of flavor; 2) the skin acts as a buffer to the cedar plank. The skin will stick to the plank making it really easy to serve the fish skin free. Salt & pepper the salmon to taste.

Place the fish on the planks, trimming off any salmon that will be hanging over the edge. (I use the trimmings on another plank and serve as a little appetizer.) Liberally apply the cooled sauce to the fish. Any extra sauce can be used as additional sauce during cooking or at table. Just be sure not to cross-contaminate the raw fish into the cooled sauce.

Place the planks on the grill grate, directly over hot coals. The first couple minutes of cooking will be fairly smoky as you are burning wet wood. The planks themselves will be very scorched on the bottom and on the top edges up to the fish. Cooking time will depend on the grill temperature, thickness of the fillet, and desired doneness. Typically, I cook mine for 20-25 minutes. I find that it would take a lot to over cook the fish using this method. The moisture in the cedar plank, in a addition to the skin keep the fish moist.

Presentation

I leave the fish on the burnt plank and put that directly on the table. It’s quite a nice presentation just like that. I use a spatula to skim just above the skin and cleanly pull off the fillet, leaving the skin stuck to the plank. Serve with a side of lemon wedges.

Enjoy.

Good Luck.

Jason Myrlie- J Carsten Homes & Remodeling

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