If you’ve never had salmon that’s been slow cooked to soft, tender perfection on a cedar plank, the weekends are a perfect time to try it! I tried it for myself for the first time not too long ago, and it was truly some of the best salmon I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. You can pick up cedar planks for cooking at many big grocery stores in the seafood section, and they are reusable too as long as they’re not overly charred and they’re clean.
Soaking the Planks
The only step you need to really make sure you’ve done prior to cooking the salmon is soaking your planks. Your cedar plank(s) should soak for at least 2 hours, but anywhere up to 12 hours is fine and preferable, even. I usually soak my cedar planks in a baking sheet filled with diluted white wine for about 4 hours.
You want the plank thoroughly soaked before you put it on the grill or in the oven. The fish will cook slowly in the heat, absorbing the flavors of the cedar and whatever liquid you choose to soak the plank in. Water is fine to use of course, but you might want to experiment with cider, wine, or sake-soaked planks too!
Preparing the Salmon
For the salmon, you’ll usually want to use a filet of salmon with the skin left on. The method works best this way, as the skin helps keep the salmon moist and juicy, but you can experiment as you see fit. You can use any of your favorite seasonings for salmon here, as simple as a touch of olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, and dill or a complex spice rub or glaze.
For my salmon pictured, I combined a number of spices, dill, soy sauce, olive oil, and enough crushed hazelnuts to create a paste that I brushed over my salmon filets. I didn’t use a recipe, but I’ll provide a very basic, tasty, and simple salmon recipe for you to start with!
From there, the directions for making cedar plank salmon are fairly ordinary. Preheat your oven or grill to 325°F. Place your salmon on the plank, skin side down on the plank, apply your seasonings to the salmon, and pop the salmon into the oven or the grill. Grill or bake your salmon until the flesh fully opaque and the flesh can be flaked apart with a fork. Depending on the thickness of your salmon, this can take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes.