This method of cooking salmon on planks of wood set on a grill has come to mean "planked salmon" in many circles. True planked salmon - a tradition in the Pacific Northwest - is a tad more dramatic: Whole salmon filets are threaded onto cedar sticks and then set at a dramatic angle over a fire that is, in my experience with it, best described as a bonfire. The result is tender, flavorful, lightly smoked salmon, and that's the effect we're going for when we cook salmon laid on cedar planks. It's easy, delicious, and more or less foolproof.
Obviously, this recipe easily doubles, etc. for larger groups. Most people set one salmon filet on each plank, but that's pure aesthetics so when you serve it each person has their own plank to use as a plate (a scoop of mashed potatoes, potato gratin, and/or steamed vegetables can be added to the plank once it's taken off the grill if you sally forth with this approach).
To save space, however, you can certainly cook however many fillets sit on a plank, then transfer the fish to plates when the filets are ready to serve.
Feel free to add herbs, butter, or other condiments/glazes to the salmon when you cook it. This is more a method for cooking salmon then it is a set-in-stone recipe.
- 4 6- to 8-ounce skin-on salmon filets (or a 1 1/2- to 2-pound filet)
- Dash of sea salt
- Optional: freshly ground black pepper
- Soak cedar planks in water for about 15 minutes (this isn't absolutely necessary, but it helps keep the planks from charring too much and makes it easier to use them multiple times).
- Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat (you should be able to hold your hand about 1 inch over the cooking grate for 3 to 4 seconds before pulling it away).
- Rinse the salmon and pat it dry. Use tweezers to pull out any pin bones in the filet (run your index finger up and down the thickest part of the filet to feel for them - they tend to be quite transluscent, so you need to feel rather than see them). Sprinkle the filet(s) with salt and pepper, if you like. Set the salmon filets on the plank(s), skin side down.
- Set the planks on the grill, cover, and cook until the salmon flesh flakes in the middle, about 15 minutes.
Serve the salmon hot or warm. A spritz of lemon never hurt.