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Cedar Plank Salmon: A Smoky and Flavorful Grilled Delight

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Cedar plank salmon is a beloved dish that combines the rich, buttery flavor of salmon with the smoky aroma imparted by grilling on a cedar plank. This cooking method not only enhances the natural flavors of the fish but also infuses it with a subtle woodsy essence, making it a favorite for outdoor grilling enthusiasts. In this article, we’ll explore the appeal of cedar plank salmon, discuss essential ingredients and techniques for preparing and grilling it, and provide a step-by-step recipe to create this delicious dish at home.

The Appeal of Cedar Plank Salmon

Cedar plank salmon is celebrated for its tender, flaky texture and complex flavors. Grilling salmon on a cedar plank adds a unique smokiness and depth that complements the natural sweetness of the fish. This method of cooking also helps to keep the salmon moist and prevents it from sticking to the grill, making it an ideal choice for summer cookouts or any occasion when you want to impress with a gourmet grilled dish.

Ingredients for Cedar Plank Salmon

To prepare cedar plank salmon, gather the following ingredients:

For the Salmon:

  • 4 salmon fillets, skin-on (about 6-8 ounces each)
  • 1 cedar plank, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh lemon wedges, for serving

For the Marinade (Optional):

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • Fresh chopped herbs (such as dill or parsley), for garnish

Preparation Steps

1. Preparing the Cedar Plank:

  • Place the cedar plank in a large baking dish or pan and cover it completely with water. Allow the plank to soak for at least 1 hour, ensuring it is fully submerged.

2. Preparing the Salmon:

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (about 400°F / 200°C).
  • Remove the cedar plank from the water and pat it dry with paper towels. Brush one side of the plank lightly with olive oil.
  • Place the salmon fillets, skin-side down, on the oiled side of the cedar plank. Brush the top of the salmon fillets with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. If using a marinade, brush it over the salmon fillets.

3. Grilling Cedar Plank Salmon:

  • Carefully place the cedar plank with the salmon fillets on the preheated grill. Close the grill lid and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through and easily flakes with a fork. The cedar plank will smolder and release a fragrant smoke that flavors the salmon.
  • Check for doneness by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the salmon. It should flake easily and appear opaque throughout.

4. Serving Cedar Plank Salmon:

  • Carefully remove the cedar plank with the salmon from the grill using heatproof gloves or mitts. Place it on a heatproof surface or serving platter.
  • Garnish the cedar plank salmon with fresh chopped herbs and serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the fish.

Tips for Grilling and Serving

  • Choosing the Cedar Plank: Use untreated cedar planks specifically sold for cooking, as they are safe for food and impart a pleasant woodsy flavor. Ensure the plank is large enough to accommodate the salmon fillets without overcrowding.
  • Grill Temperature: Maintain medium-high heat to ensure the cedar plank smokes and cooks the salmon evenly without burning.
  • Flavor Variations: Experiment with different marinades or dry rubs to customize the flavor of your cedar plank salmon. Consider adding smoked paprika, herbs, or citrus zest to enhance the taste.

Serving Suggestions

Cedar plank salmon pairs beautifully with a variety of side dishes, such as grilled vegetables, wild rice pilaf, or a fresh green salad. Serve with chilled white wine or a light-bodied red wine to complement the smoky flavors of the salmon.

Conclusion

Cedar plank salmon is a gourmet yet straightforward dish that elevates any outdoor grilling experience with its smoky flavor and tender texture. By following this recipe and mastering the art of grilling on cedar planks, you can recreate this restaurant-quality dish in the comfort of your own backyard. Share this delightful grilled salmon with family and friends, celebrating its robust flavors and aromatic appeal as a highlight of your next barbecue or summer gathering.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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