Planked Salmon on the grill is one of the easiest and most flavourful ways to cook it. Although cedar planks are used frequently, I also like to plank salmon on alder. I love the crisp woodsy, smoky flavour that it gives to the planked salmon, which, for us, is wild sockeye from right here in beautiful BC. But, whatever salmon is fresh and available to you will work in this recipe, and you can plank on applewood, too, and many other woods.
Although the process is very simple and not at all difficult, the planking experience has several important steps:
Your wood planks can be cedar, alder, maple, or any other wood that is able to withstand some high heat. I have used apple wood, and you can use any orchard wood. Each wood will add it's own subtle flavour to your fish, which is a bonus of the planking method. Just be sure that your cooking planks are untreated natural wood. Cooking planks that are intended just for this purpose are inexpensive and easy to find.
And, you can often get more than one or two uses from your planks, as long as you wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and allow to dry completely after using. Keep in mind that wood is porous, and the flavour of the salmon will have permeated it while cooking. The high heat will have cooked off any bacteria, but the flavour of the salmon may be cooked into the plank. For that reason, it's best to only reuse your planks with salmon.
Your planks need to be soaked. Completely submerge them in water for at least 2 hours before cooking, but 6-8 hours works best to make sure they are thoroughly saturated. Add a ton of salt to the soaking water (think sea, where the salmon came from) and some herbs from the garden (rosemary, thyme, etc, depending on what you are cooking, you can also add wine, vinegar, beer, or whatever subtle flavour you want to infuse your fish with). You can soak your planks in the kitchen sink, using a heavy object, such as a cutting board or a large pot filled with water, set on top of them to keep them submerged. I like to start off with hot water to soften the wood and allow any flavourings to infuse before the water cools.
Preparing the Grill
Turn your grill on to high, and let it heat while you prep your salmon. Have a spray bottle filled with water on hand for any flare ups.
Preparing the Salmon
Remove your plank from it's soaking water. Pat the salmon fillet dry with paper towels. Rub the fillet all over with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Old Bay seasoning or whatever other seasonings you like. Fresh chopped dill is really nice for this recipe, and you can top the fillet with lemon slices for another layer of flavour. Place the fillet, skin side down, on the soaked plank.
Turn the grill heat down to medium. Put the plank with the fish on the grill and close the lid. Let the wood plank first steam, then smoke and and finally infuse the fish with its wonderful smokey flavour. Depending on your grill, and the thickness of your salmon fillet, it should take around 20 minutes. When done, the salmon should flake easily but still be juicy. Serve it up right away, perhaps with this simple and delicious lemon dill aoli.
Pretty simple, right? Enjoy, and I love hearing from you, so please let me know in the comments how your planking turned out!
Lemon Dill Aioli
- 3/4 cup real mayonnaise
- zest of one lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon (Cut the other half into wedges for serving)
- 2 TBS fresh drill, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
Whisk all ingredients together and serve with Alder Planked Salmon.
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