Cedar plank grilling is one of my favorite methods of salmon preparation. I first encountered it at a little restaurant I worked for in Michigan years ago. We had dozens of cedar planks soaking in a bucket and the scent when they hit the flames was intoxicating. Since that summer if there is a cedar plank salmon on the menu chances are good that’s what I’m ordering. Up until recently I was reticent to try cooking salmon this way at home, but since we moved into a house and have a full sized grill at our disposal this is no longer a restaurant only treat. This easy to execute recipe is courtesy of Gina Knox founder of Fire and Flavor.
4 (6 ounce) Salmon filets, skin removed
3 tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon Orange Zest
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon Chives, minced
Special Equipment Needed: 1 large or 4 small Cedar Planks
A few hours before you plan on cooking, submerge your cedar plank(s) in water. Weigh it down so the entire plank is soaking.
Mix together the maple syrup, mustard, balsamic vinegar and orange zest for the glaze. Set it aside.
Heat your grill, the internal temperature should be about 350°F to cook the salmon, but it’s okay if it starts closer to 400°F as the dampness of the plank will drop the temperature a bit (it will drop it more with a charcoal grill than with a gas grill).
While the grill is heating you are going to want to pull the plank out of the water and allow the excess water to drain off. Season both sides of your salmon with salt and pepper and place on a platter you can use to transport to your grill. Cover the salmon evenly with the glaze and allow it to marinade for a few minutes on the counter. You are going to want to make sure your “presentation side” is facing up. The presentation side is going to be the side of the salmon that did not have the skin.
When the grill is hot, place the cedar plank(s) directly on the grate and let it “toast” for about 3 minutes. Flip the plank over and using tongs place the salmon (presentation side up) on the plank. Make sure you cover the salmon with every bit of the glaze, even what pooled on the platter, to get as much flavor as possible. Close the lid of the grill and let it cook between 12 and 18 minutes (depending on how well done you like your salmon).
While your salmon is cooking, mince your chives and toast your sesame seeds. To toast the seeds, heat a skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes and then add the seeds into the dry pan. Shake the pan continually to get the seeds evenly colored. When they begin to smell nutty remove them from a pan and set aside. You can also zest a little more orange to garnish if you would like.
Pull the cedar plank off the grill when your salmon is done. Sprinkle each salmon filet with a little bit of the toasted sesame seeds and the minced chives. You can either serve the salmon on or off the plank depending on the look you are going for. Try pairing the salmon with Horseradish Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes, they go together very well. Now you have an easy and impressive salmon dish that is perfect to do for company, your friends are sure to be impressed with your cooking skills!
Tips and Tricks:
Cedar planks for food preparation can be found at most gourmet grocery stores and I have even seen them at discount home goods stores. You cannot simple pick up any cedar plank from a hardware store as many are treated with chemicals.
Another great recipe for cedar plank salmon (courtesy of Real Simple Magazine) is to make a paste from
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Spread the paste on the salmon filet like you would the glaze and cook it in the same method.
If you have to remove the skin yourself, it’s really not a daunting of a task as it may seem. The key is having a sharp knife. With the salmon skin-side up, work the knife between the skin and the flesh so that you have a corner peeled away (but don’t cut the skin away from the other skin). Flip the salmon skin-side down on a cutting board and holding your knife so the blade is facing away from you and is angled slightly toward the cutting board. Hold the loose corner of skin to keep it taut and work the knife with with a wiggling motion between the flesh and the skin, checking occasionally to make sure you are not removing the flesh as well (if so, angle your knife more toward the cutting board).