De-mystifying Cedar Plank Salmon
Although Cedar Plank Salmon sounds and tastes like a fancy schmancy dish served at your local fancy schmancy restaurant, it’s really easy to prepare. But shhhh, don’t tell your dinner guests, let them rave about your culinary skills while you smile sweetly.
First, you can get a cedar plank at a fancy kitchen store or even a department store, but you can also get one at a lumber store. Yes, really! Make sure to check, and double check that it’s untreated wood. Ask an orange apron if you have to. You’ll pay a fraction of what you’d pay at one of those fancy schmancy kitchen or department stores.
Once you’ve got your plank you’ll need to soak it for long enough to prevent it from burning. Just put the plank in a tray of water for a couple of hours and put some cans of soup on top to weigh it down to make sure the wood is completely covered.
1 cedar plank (6 by 14 inches or big enough to hold your fish)
2 salmon fillets (1 1/2 pounds total)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons brown sugar
Remove skin from salmon fillet. Remove any remaining bones. Rinse the salmon under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season the
salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay the salmon (on what was
skin-side down) on the cedar plank and carefully spread the mustard
over the top and sides. Place the brown sugar in a bowl and crumble
between your fingers, then sprinkle over the mustard.
Set grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium-high. Place the
cedar plank in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat. Cover
the grill and cook until cooked through, around 20 to 30 minutes. The
internal temperature should read 135 degrees F. Transfer the salmon and
plank to a platter and serve right off the plank.
For baking in the oven, place the plank in a roasting pan and pre-soak
it in water, wine or cider for at least an hour. You should monitor
the liquid level often during baking to ensure at least one-quarter
inch of liquid is present at all times.
Serve with a big green salad and some wine and revel in the adoration of your appreciative dinner guests.
So, after I wrote this article I was plagued with journalistic guilt. The article above was fiction. I’ve never cooked cedar plank salmon. I felt like a fraud. So on the way home from work I go to Home Depot and directly to the lumber department. Feeling very intimidated, small and very very female, I found cedar fencing. Then I had to find an orange apron. “Is this untreated?” “yes, are you going to be walking on it?” “no, I’m going to be cooking with it, is it untreated?” “yes” “ ok, great, can you cut it in to 10 inch pieces for me?” “you don’t have a saw?”
Please. Do I look like a woman who owns a saw?
“no” “really? You don’t own a saw?, ok, then, follow me” So he takes me to a station set up with a place to hold a 5 foot piece of lumber and a manual saw, puts the lumber in the sawing thing and just as I’m drawing breath to thank him for his gallantry, he hands me the saw. Not wanting to seem too girly I put down my flowery, sparkly purse on the floor and take the saw. He’s grinning at me. Undaunted I start sawing. Apparently my technique is lacking. Imagine that. “slower, take longer strokes, let the saw do the work” I adjust my technique. “oh, you’re killing me. Here, let me.” So he takes over and saws the rest of the cut and puts the saw down. But now I have a 10” piece of lumber and a 4’2” piece of lumber. So, I go ahead and measure the next piece and start cutting. He starts walking away. “oh my god” and he stomps back, takes the saw out of my hand and continues sawing for me until I have 4 different length pieces of untreated cedar.
It’s still soaking. I’ll let you know how it turns out.