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How to Plank-Grill Salmon

How to Plank-Grill Salmon

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Grill planks lend smoky, woody flavors to salmon. Follow these instructions on preparing your plank and grilling for a delicious dinner.

Smoky Salmon

You can cook everything from tuna to tenderloin on a wood plank, but salmon gains the most from this extra smoky infusion; you simply can't miss it. Follow these instructions and you can't go wrong!

1. Soak the Plank

You’ll need to soak the plank before using it to help keep the fish moist. A soaked plank also produces maximum smoke and is less likely to burn. Submerge it in water for at least 1 hour. Use the soaked plank right away since the wood will start to dry out.

2. Grill the Plank

Preheat the grill, and place the plank on the grill rack. Grill the plank for 3 minutes or until lightly charred.

3. Place Fish on Charred Side of the Plank

Carefully turn the plank over using long-handled tongs. Food that touches the wood takes on more flavor, so arrange the fish on the plank in a single layer on the charred side.

4. Close the Grill

After placing the food on the plank, immediately close the grill so that the smoke surrounds the food, and grill until the fish are done.

Cedar-Plank Salmon

Photo by Caleb Adams, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell

The salmon takes on a light, smoky woodiness from grilling on a cedar plank, for a lovely pairing of earth and ocean.

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1. Planking Salmon - Lay the salmon filet out on a flat surface and run your finger along the filet, from head to tail, to check for pin bones. If you feel any hard points, remove them with a clean pair of fish tweezers.

2. Prepare the grill for direct, low heat grilling (about 350F). Place a few chunks of cherry wood (if extra smoke is desired) on top of the coals and close the lid.

3. Wait for the smoke to start pouring out of the grill and the grill reaches about 350F.

4. Char one side of your presoaked plank for about 5-7 min directly on the grate over the coals. You will hear some cracking and popping at the 5-7 minute mark which is give the plank some char, this does a great job in adding smoke flavor to the salmon. Flip the plank so that the char side is up and place the salmon on the plank. Season the salmon with desired seasonings, then top with dill springs and the sliced lemons.

5. Place the plank with the salmon in the center of the grill over direct heat. Close the lid and roast the salmon for about 30 minutes. Check the filet after 20 minutes with an iGrill thermometer. When the filet reaches 135F in the thickest part of the filet, remove it from the grill. For best aroma and presentation, keep the salmon on the plank when serving.

How to cedar plank salmon on the grill

1. Soak the plank

Submerge the cedar plank under water for at least an hour before charring on the grill. A heavy beer or wine bottle helps to keep the wood from floating to the top. The water that’s absorbed helps the plank smolder and not catch fire.

2. Char the plank separately

Preheat the grill to medium-high, about 400 to 450°F (204 to 232ºC). Place the water-soaked plank on the grill grates close the lid. When the plank begins to smoke and lightly char, about 7 to10 minutes, flip over and remove from the grill to begin salmon preparation. This charring step allows the wood to transfer more smokey flavor before the salmon starts to cook.

3. Planking the Salmon

Season the fillet first, then place it salmon skin side down on the charred side of the wood plank. Grill on medium-high heat with the lid closed until the salmon is just opaque in the center and begins to brown slightly around the edges, about 15 minutes per pound of fish. This salmon does not need to be flipped!

4. Check for doneness

Place an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the fish. Salmon will reach an internal temperature of about 140ºF (60ºC) for medium doneness. Be careful as the grill can be much hotter than your oven, so keep checking every few minutes, so the fish does not dry out. You can also use a fork to separate the center of the flesh to see if it can easily flake apart.

Begin by making the marinade: combine the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper in a dish large enough to hold the salmon. Add the salmon to the dish and turn to coat evenly. Let the salmon marinate for at least 30 minutes or until ready to grill.

Meanwhile, soak the cedar plank in a sink or bowl of water for at least one hour, otherwise, it will be more prone to catch fire on the grill. Then, pat dry and place the marinated salmon on the plank.

Grill over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the salmon is done to your liking.

Serve the salmon right off the plank with lemon wedges. Enjoy!

How to Plank-Grill Salmon - Recipes

Wood + heat = smoke. In this case, it&rsquos fragrant cedar smoke, which cures the outside of the salmon, locking in moisture and flavor. Follow the directions below to get perfectly grilled wild Alaska salmon every time.

Soak the cedar plank for 1 hour. Weigh it down with something heavy to keep it submerged. If you are feeling adventurous, soak your cedar planks in wine, beer, juice or stock.

Preheat grill to medium heat, 350°-400°F (177°-205°C).

Rub the salmon with freshly minced garlic, and then coat the top with brown sugar. The brown sugar will caramelize the fish and help maintain the color. Use salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.

Do not use oil on the plank. Adding oil will create flames, excess heat, and will prevent the skin from sticking to the plank. Place one salmon portion on each cedar plank, skin side down, then place the plank in the grill. Cook with the lid closed to allow the smoke to flavor the salmon. Cook until the salmon flakes easily with a fork, or the internal temperature reaches 145°F, approximately 10 minutes or less for a 1&rdquo salmon. When the salmon is finished cooking, simply slide a spatula between the salmon and the skin for easy removal, garnish with fresh herbs and lemon and enjoy!

Are cedar planks reusable?

If the grilling plank is in good shape after the initial use it may be reused, although it&rsquos not recommended. Keep in mind that it will take on the flavor of whatever was grilled on it, and most of the oils from the wood will be gone after the first round of grilling. If the plank is charred, it should not be reused.

Can cedar planks be used in the oven?

Yes, using cedar planks in the oven will infuse the salmon with steam, keeping it moist and adding the flavor of the wood. Unlike using the cedar plank on the grill, it will not smoke.

What Makes Cedar Plank Salmon So Great?

  1. Cedar planks provide a solid surface area that prevents food from falling into a fire or through your grill grates. This is especially beneficial for fish and seafood which tend to be delicate meat and prone to falling through your grill grates.
  2. Cooking with a plank adds a beautiful smoky and savory flavor to your food – the flavor profile of cedar also happens to pair really nicely with salmon, fish, seafood, and chicken to name a few.

Planks are soaked before they’re placed on the grill, so to a degree your food will also steam a little bit on the grill when cooked with this technique. Because of this, veggies are also a great choice for grilling on cedar.

It’s also possible to plate salmon with the plank and all for some really cool presentation if you really want to wow your guests.

When I received a package of cedar grilling planks from Fire & Flavor, I couldn’t wait to get grilling—but the weather had other ideas. Outdoor grilling was officially rained out. How could I put that sweet, smoky, robust cedar flavor into salmon without a grill? Simple! You can make cedar plank oven salmon, using the same Fire & Flavor Cedar Grilling Planks.

Fire & Flavor Cedar Grilling Planks

One of the reasons I like to use Fire & Flavor Grilling Planks is that they’re sustainably sourced. They’re also all natural, HACCP Food Safe Verified, and perfect for fish, chicken, beef, pork, seafood, lamb, or veggies. When you combine a Fire & Flavor Cedar Grilling Plank with a great piece of salmon and some Fire & Flavor Salmon Rub, you’ve got a recipe for perfection. (Be sure to check out this recipe for how to use cedar grilling wraps.)

Here are some pro tips for making cedar plank oven salmon.

Soaking the Cedar Planks

Cedar planks should be soaked in water for at least 1 hour before cooking. It’s the steam that rises from the soaked wood that imparts the flavor of the cedar.

Cedar plank soaking in water

Brining the Salmon Before Oven Baking

If you’d like to see less of the white protein that naturally appears on the surface of the cooked salmon, you can reduce it by brining the salmon in a solution of water and salt. Combine 2 tablespoons of salt with 2 cups of water and submerge the salmon fillets for 10 minutes, then pat dry. The saltwater will gently break down some of the external muscle fibers, preventing them from squeezing out protein as the salmon contracts during the cooking process.

Fresh salmon fillets, ready to brine

Adding the Salmon Rub

After the planks are soaked and the salmon has been brined and patted to remove excess water, you can coat the fillets with salmon rub. Fire & Flavor Salmon Rub is a no-fuss, no-muss seasoning blend that combines a variety of savory spices plus ancho chili pepper, salt, and brown sugar. It’s also Non GMO Project Certified and gluten free.

Seasoned salmon, ready to bake

Preheating the Soaked Cedar Plank

When everything is ready to go, you’ll briefly preheat the soaked cedar plank in the hot oven before adding the brined and seasoned salmon, ensuring that the wood is hot enough to begin cooking the salmon evenly.

Fire & Flavor Cedar Planks and Salmon Rub

Be sure to use the Fire & Flavor store locator to find their products near you, or shop online here.

The Different Woods Used for Plank Grilling

The most common type of grilling plank is cedar. Alder and hickory are also fairly easy to find. Cherry, maple, and red oak are also good choices and sometimes you can find a variety pack of planks in various flavors.

The key, however, is to make sure you are buying grilling planks and not just pieces of plywood. Construction wood is treated will all kinds of substances that make it good for building, but when burned, those substances will release unwanted flavors and possibly toxins. Even though you can find untreated wood at the hardware store, but to be certain, make sure yours is specifically made for grilling.

The thicker the plank, the better, but try to use ones that are at least half an inch thick. Also, make sure the plank is large enough so that whatever food you're cooking will fit with at least an inch of exposed board all around.

Compound butter, also called flavored butter, is one of the easiest ways to upgrade any recipe. You can make a big batch of flavored compound butter and freeze it, so you always have some on hand. For today we made just enough garlic herb butter for this recipe and it’s listed in the recipe card below.

Or top your fish, chicken or vegetables with any variety of our compound butters for delicious results.

Compound Butter with Garlic and Herbs