Cedar Plank Salmon Fillets on the Grill

Salmon is a favorite fish in my family and I like to cook it a number of ways.  On the grill I usually wrap it in foil with some lemon and different seasonings or recently I tried plank cooking.  Years ago I tried cedar planks to grill some salmon  for Gene  but I seem to recall that I was not that successful.  This time I did some research, looked at a number of recipes/instructions and was better prepared to grill my salmon fillet.

Plank cooking originated in the Pacific Northwest where salmon was the original partner for the plank.  This does not surprise me at all as having visited Seattle and Pikes Market the size and quantity of salmon available was beyond words.  Of course you can grill any fish, chicken, beef, pork or vegetables as well on planks.

Plank cooking flavors the entrée with the sap of the particular wood that you are using.  The untreated planks are available in cedar, alder, maple, cherry, apple and oak.  I bought planks from Weber’s Grill, Sur la table (with a neat tray I especially liked) and Ace Hardware GrillMark.  Ace had 3 sizes in cedar; 5-1/2×6-inches, 5-1/2×9-inches and 5-1/2×15-inches which I thought was very convenient as you do not always need such a long board.  They were all about 1/2-inch thick.  The two smaller planks fit inside Sur la table’s metal tray.

Of course you can buy a huge board at Lowes or any home improvement store that sells lumber and cut the board into small planks.  You do need a skillful husband however; and I know Gene would have loved the challenge.

First, I  soaked the plank in water overnight and  weighed it down with a glass full of water so the plank stayed submerged.  The next day I replaced the water with apple juice.  Do not ask me why I did not use apple juice in the first place???  You could use wine or any juice of your liking, orange juice would add some nice flavor.  Anyways, I made sure the plank was soaked, probably 24 hours is a little too much.  The recipes I looked at ranged in soaking the planks from 1 to 12 hours.  There is always a danger of the board catching fire so you need to have a quirt bottle handy.  The board was charred pretty good but never did smoke or catch fire.  The Sur la table tray made it very easy to handle.

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I coated one side with olive oil; if you are not using a tray coat both sides (you can see the oil beading up in the picture below).  I heated both the tray and board for 15 minutes on high, then I added my seasoned salmon fillet, turned the heat down to medium and closed the lid.  I did check every now and then to be sure it was cooking good for about 30 minutes.  It was mentioned in a few recipes that when ever you are cooking on planks the grilling time needs to be doubled.


The recipe is very simple which I adapted from Whole Foods.   Use your favorite seasonings for your salmon. I have included a Blackberry Sauce at the end of the post if you would like something different to serve with it.

Cedar Plank Salmon Fillets on the Grill

  • equal portions of maple syrup and apple juice or cider (I soaked my plank in apple juice), white wine would be good too
  • enough oil to brush both sides of the plank with olive oil (unless you use a tray)
  • salmon fillets
  • fresh thyme leaves and/or rosemary, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • lemon zest (optional)
  • fresh  lemon juice
  • garnish with fresh parsley, minced

Brush the salmon with the syrup/juice mixture and sprinkle with thyme leaves and black pepper (optional lemon zest);  rub it in well.  Squeeze a little lemon juice on top if desired.

For me this size of fillet took 30 minutes; you have to base the time on the thickness of your fish and how you like your salmon cooked and also that you need to double the cooking time because you are using a plank.

Different sources suggested 120°F at the lowest and 150°F for well done.  I have never tested my salmon with a thermometer, I always check to see if the meat is white and not translucent.  I like it cooked – no pink, so I like my salmon on the upper temperature range but not to the extent it is dry.  Maybe from now on I will check with a thermometer especially when it is a thick piece of fish.  Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.

The salmon was cooked perfectly and was very tender and moist.  I am not so sure I tasted any woodsy flavor but I believe the apple juice did impart some flavor.  It was some of the best salmon I have cooked on the grill or in the oven/stovetop.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com 

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To extend the planks life, wash in soapy water and let dry.  They   can be reused until they become overly charred, cracked or begin to crumble.

Blackberry Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 2 tbsp. white wine
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chipotle hot pepper sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Combine the first six ingredients and process until blended.  Stir in the shallots and garlic.  Serve with salmon.

Recipe by cookingwithauntjuju.com 

2 thoughts on “Cedar Plank Salmon Fillets on the Grill

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