A cedar plank with a salmon fillet on topA cedar plank with a salmon fillet on top

If you’re looking for a new and flavorful way to prepare salmon, using a cedar plank to cook it on the grill or in the oven is a popular and simple method. Not only does this create a smoky and rich flavor, but it also helps keep the fish moist as it cooks. But before you start grilling or preheating your oven, there are some important things you’ll need to know to get the best result possible. Read on to learn how to cook salmon using a cedar plank.

Why use a cedar plank for cooking salmon?

You may be wondering why anyone would want to cook salmon on a wooden plank in the first place. The answer lies in the unique flavor it imparts. Using a cedar plank gives the salmon a smoky and slightly sweet flavor that is hard to achieve with other methods of cooking. Plus, it’s an easy and foolproof way to cook salmon, as it helps to keep the fish moist and prevents it from sticking to the grill or pan.

Another benefit of using a cedar plank for cooking salmon is that it adds a natural aroma to the dish. The wood releases oils and fragrances as it heats up, which infuses the salmon with a delicious scent that will make your mouth water. Additionally, cooking salmon on a cedar plank is a healthier option than frying or sautéing it, as it doesn’t require any added oils or fats.

When choosing a cedar plank for cooking salmon, it’s important to select one that is untreated and food-safe. You can find cedar planks at most grocery stores or online retailers, and they are typically sold in packs of two or three. Before using the plank, soak it in water for at least an hour to prevent it from catching fire on the grill or in the oven. Once it’s soaked, place the salmon on the plank and cook it according to your preferred method.

Choosing the right cedar plank for your salmon

Not all cedar planks are created equal, and choosing the right one for your salmon can make all the difference. Look for planks that are made specifically for cooking, as they are usually untreated and free of chemicals or additives. The planks should also be at least 1 inch thick to prevent them from burning when exposed to high heat. Usually, cedar planks can be found in the grilling or baking sections of most grocery stores or specialty cooking shops.

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When selecting a cedar plank, it’s important to consider the size of your salmon fillet. The plank should be large enough to accommodate the entire fillet without any overhang. This will ensure that the salmon cooks evenly and doesn’t dry out on the edges. Additionally, you may want to soak the cedar plank in water for at least an hour before grilling to prevent it from catching fire and to infuse the salmon with a subtle smoky flavor.

Another factor to consider when choosing a cedar plank is the origin of the wood. Cedar planks from different regions can have distinct flavors and aromas. For example, planks from the Pacific Northwest are known for their strong, earthy flavor, while planks from the Northeast have a milder, sweeter taste. Experiment with different types of cedar planks to find the one that best complements your salmon and personal taste preferences.

Preparing the cedar plank for cooking

Before you use a cedar plank for cooking salmon, it needs to be soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This not only helps to prevent the plank from catching fire and burning, but it also creates steam as the plank heats up, which helps to keep the fish moist. Fill a container or sink with enough water to fully submerge the plank and let it soak while you prepare the salmon.

It’s important to note that you should only use untreated cedar planks for cooking. Treated planks can contain chemicals that are harmful when heated. You can find untreated cedar planks at most grocery stores or online retailers. Once you’ve soaked the plank, you can place it on the grill or in the oven and let it heat up for a few minutes before adding the salmon. This will help to create a smoky flavor and a crispy exterior on the fish.

Seasoning the salmon for cedar plank cooking

The seasoning you use for your salmon depends on your preference, but a simple combination of salt, pepper, and olive oil will work well. You can also experiment with different herbs and spices to add more flavor. Just be sure to coat both sides of the salmon fillet evenly with seasonings before placing it on the plank.

It’s important to note that when seasoning your salmon for cedar plank cooking, you should avoid using too much salt. The cedar plank will naturally infuse the salmon with a smoky flavor, and too much salt can overpower this taste. Additionally, if you’re using a pre-soaked cedar plank, you can add even more flavor to your salmon by placing fresh herbs or citrus slices on the plank before cooking.

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The best cooking methods for cedar plank salmon

There are two main cooking methods for cedar plank salmon: grilling and baking. When grilling, preheat the grill to medium-high heat, then place the soaked plank on the grill and close the lid. Wait for the plank to start smoking before placing the salmon on top. If baking, preheat the oven to 400°F and place the soaked plank on a baking sheet. Put the sheet in the oven and wait for the plank to start smoking before placing the salmon on top. Both methods generally take around 15-20 minutes to cook the salmon through, but this can vary depending on the thickness of the fillet.

Another important factor to consider when cooking cedar plank salmon is the seasoning. While the natural flavor of the salmon is delicious on its own, adding some herbs and spices can enhance the taste even further. Some popular options include dill, lemon pepper, garlic, and paprika. Simply sprinkle the seasoning on top of the salmon before cooking, or mix it with some olive oil and brush it onto the fillet.

It’s also worth noting that cedar planks can be reused multiple times, as long as they are properly cleaned and stored. After cooking, remove any remaining food particles from the plank and rinse it with water. You can also use a mild soap if necessary. Let the plank dry completely before storing it in a cool, dry place. With proper care, a cedar plank can last for several uses, making it a cost-effective and eco-friendly cooking option.

Cedar plank salmon in the oven: Step-by-step guide

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to cook salmon on a cedar plank in the oven:

  1. Place the soaked cedar plank on a baking sheet
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  3. Season the salmon fillet with salt, pepper, and olive oil or other seasonings of your choice
  4. Place the salmon fillet on the cedar plank skin down
  5. Put the sheet in the oven and wait for the plank to start smoking before closing the oven door
  6. Cook for around 15-20 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through and registered 145°F on a meat thermometer
  7. Remove from oven and let the salmon rest for a few minutes before serving

Cedar plank salmon is not only delicious, but it also has some health benefits. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function and heart health. Cooking salmon on a cedar plank adds a unique smoky flavor to the fish, without the need for additional oils or fats. Additionally, cooking on a cedar plank can help prevent the fish from sticking to the grill or pan, making it easier to cook and serve.

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Adding flavor to your cedar plank salmon with herbs and spices

As mentioned earlier, the flavor possibilities for cedar plank salmon are endless. Here are some additional herbs and spices you can use to add more depth to your cedar plank salmon:

  • Lemon slices
  • Fresh dill
  • Garlic
  • Paprika
  • Thyme
  • Red pepper flakes

Another great way to add flavor to your cedar plank salmon is by using a marinade. A simple marinade can be made by mixing olive oil, soy sauce, honey, and minced ginger. Let the salmon marinate for at least 30 minutes before placing it on the cedar plank. This will infuse the salmon with a sweet and savory flavor that pairs perfectly with the smoky cedar taste.

How long should you cook cedar plank salmon?

As a general rule, cedar plank salmon takes around 15-20 minutes to cook, depending on the thickness of the fillet. However, the best way to know when your salmon is done is to use a meat thermometer to ensure it registers 145°F.

Testing for doneness: How to know when your cedar plank salmon is cooked perfectly

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, there are other ways to test for doneness. One way is to insert a fork into the thickest part of the salmon and gently twist it. If the fish flakes easily and is opaque throughout, it’s done. Another way is to check the color of the salmon. The flesh should be a light pink color and no longer have any translucency. Just be sure to not overcook the salmon, as it can become dry and tough.

Tips and tricks for perfecting your cedar plank salmon recipe

Here are some additional tips and tricks to help you perfect your cedar plank salmon recipe:

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different seasonings and herbs to create new and unique flavor combinations
  • If grilling, make sure to keep an eye on the plank to ensure it doesn’t catch fire
  • Let the salmon rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute
  • Pair your cedar plank salmon with sides that complement the flavor, such as grilled vegetables or a refreshing salad

Health benefits of eating grilled or oven-baked cedar plank salmon

In addition to being a delicious way to prepare salmon, cooking it on a cedar plank also has health benefits. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to promote heart health and reduce inflammation. Using a cedar plank to cook the salmon eliminates the need for additional oil or butter, making it a healthier way to enjoy this flavorful fish.

Frequently asked questions about cooking with a cedar plank

Here are some commonly asked questions about cooking salmon on a cedar plank:

  • Do I need to soak the cedar plank for a certain amount of time? Yes, it’s recommended to soak the plank for at least 30 minutes to an hour before using it
  • Can I reuse the cedar plank? Generally, no. The plank will start to break down and lose its flavor after one use.
  • Can I use other types of wood to cook salmon? Yes, other types of wood, such as alder or hickory, can also be used to cook salmon.

Now that you know all the ins and outs of cooking salmon on a cedar plank, it’s time to give it a try for yourself. The delicious results are sure to impress your family and friends at your next cookout or dinner party.

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