Cedar Planked Salmon
Cooking on planks may be traced back to ancient aboriginal tribes. Fish was lashed to a plank and leaned near an open fire where it basked in the heat and smoke until cooked. In the mid-1800's, early American cookbook authors penned recipes for planked fish and chicken that had adapted the process to the indoor oven. Meanwhile hotel chefs in the Pacific Northwest began showcasing plank cooking in their restaurants as a way to promote indigenous cuisine. And now, this unique method of cooking comes to your kitchen or outdoor grill. Be sure to purchase only food-grade, non-treated cedar planks, and soak them thoroughly before using. For a truly authentic touch, serve the salmon directly on the plank!
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus additional for garnish
Food-grade (non-treated) cedar planks soaked in cool water for at least 2 hours, and up to 12 hours. (Note: The number of planks required will be determined by the size of the planks and the size of your oven or grill.)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
- Whisk the brown sugar and balsamic together in a small sauce pan until the sugar has dissolved. Place over medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer. Mix the cornstarch and soy sauce together in a small bowl. Add the soy/cornstarch mixture to the balsamic, and whisk to combine. Bring back to the simmer, and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.
- Arrange the soaked planks in a single layer on a baking sheet (or sheets); place in the oven to preheat for 15 minutes before cooking the salmon.
- Rinse the salmon with cool water. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels; season well with salt and pepper. Coat the top of each fillet with mustard, dividing it evenly. Coat each fillet with some of the balsamic mixture.
- Carefully remove the hot planks from the oven; brush the planks lightly with oil. Scatter the rosemary sprigs on the planks, and arrange the salmon, glaze-side up, on top of the rosemary.
- Place in the oven, and roast until the salmon flakes easily and reaches an internal temperature of 135°F, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve directly on the planks, or transfer the fillets to warmed serving plates. Drizzle any remaining balsamic glaze over the fish, or use it to decorate the plate, if desired. Garnish each with a fresh rosemary sprig, and serve immediately.
Tips & Techniques
To cook on an outdoor grill, set up the grill for indirect cooking and preheat to medium-high. Place the planks over the unlit portion of the grill; cover the grill, and preheat for 15 minutes. Glaze the salmon as described in the recipe above. Place the rosemary sprigs and salmon on the heated planks, cover the grill and cook until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 135°F, about 25 minutes.
Variation: For a more pronounced smoke flavor, preheat the broiler, and place the soaked planks on a baking sheet under the broiler until very lightly charred. (Note: The planks may make a popping sound as they char. Watch carefully and do not leave unattended!). Carefully remove the hot planks from the oven. Change the oven setting to bake, and set the temperature to 375°F. Glaze the salmon as described in the recipe above. Turn the planks charred-side down, and place the rosemary sprigs and salmon on the planks. Place the planks on a rack set in the center of the oven, and proceed with the recipe as described above. If cooking outdoors, place the soaked planks over the lit portion of the grill until lightly charred, then move the planks to the unlit portion of the grill. Place the rosemary sprigs and salmon on the planks, and proceed as described in the recipe above.