Cedar plank salmon

It is officially grilling season in our house.  We are letting our oven take a little rest, while we move the cooking outside.

I love to grill.  However it has only been in the past few years that I’ve become comfortable playing around on the grill without JonPaul.  Previously it was only something I did when he was around.  I’m not sure why.  I just always left “grilling” to him.  But not anymore.

I had no idea how much I was missing out.  It is has been so fun to play around and try some new techniques.   One of my favorites new has been using cedar planks to grill salmon (clearly not new – just new to me ;).

Although I love salmon on the stove top, there is something really special about salmon cooked on the grill, especially with cedar planks.  It creates and light smoky flavor.  But what really stands out for me is the texture.  I cook the salmon using indirect heat, so it cooks the fish a little slower and keeps it really tender and delicate.

If you’ve never used cedar planks before, they take a little planning because you need to soak them.  Not a lot of work, just a little foresight.  You want to submerge the entire plank in water (I do it in a baking dish) for at least an hour, but can soak it up to 4 hours.  Then when you go to grill the salmon, heat the plank first (without the fish on it).  Heat it for a few minutes, then flip the plank over, and place your salmon directly on the now hot plank (don’t make the mistake of walking outside carrying your salmon on a plank that hasn’t been pre-heated).

Grilling with indirect heat is fairly easily as well, you just need to play around with it to find what works best depending on your particular grill.  The idea is that your heat source is on the opposite side of the food your cooking.  So if your fish/meat is on the right side of your grill, you only use the burners on the left to actually heat the grill.  You want your grill to be around 400 degrees.  So for me that means keeping two burners on medium/high heat, with the third burner off.  Watch your thermometer (and more importantly how your cedar plank and salmon are doing) and adjust your burners accordingly.  For this dish, when in doubt lower the heat.  There is nothing worse than overcooked salmon and a charred plank.

I also let the salmon marinate for a few hours in a combination of soy, garlic, rosemary, honey and dijon.  The combination of the soy and honey creates a beautiful crust.   Salty, sweet and sticky.  But if you have a favorite marinade, use it.  Or you can always just use salt, pepper and a little olive oil.  The cedar plank imparts a great smoky flavor, so the marinating is just an extra flavor step.  Play around and have some fun.  You can also save a few tablespoons of the marinade to drizzle over the salmon after it’s been cooked (just make sure you separate it out BEFORE you pour it over your salmon.)

To serve this, I like to plate it family style over a bed of rice.  I used an heirloom forbidden rice on this particular day and it was so pretty.  The rice is a really dark purple and was such a beautiful contrast against the pink salmon.  But use whatever rice you like.  I find that the cedar planks aren’t always that “attractive” after coming off the grill, so I like to transfer the fish to another dish.

I love to serve family style whenever I can. Even things like fish.  I usually never make four/five separate pieces (way too much work for this momma).  Instead I make one large piece of fish and break it up at the table.  Let this feel a little more rustic by breaking the fish up into “portions” and let people help themselves.  My family loves to gather around a dig into this one.  I hope your family will too.

Cedar plank salmon
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-5 servings
  • 1- 1½ pound filet of wild caught salmon
  • 1 cedar plank, soaked for at least one hour, up to four
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 2 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. of dijon mustard
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 rosemary sprigs, chopped
  1. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, honey, olive oil, mustard, garlic and rosemary. Whisk to combine.
  2. Place salmon in a baking dish, and pour marinade over fish. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours (let salmon come to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking).
  3. Heat grill to 400 degrees. When grill is hot, turn off one section of burners. Place the pre-soaked cedar plank on the section of the grill that is "off". Let the plank heat up for 2-3 minutes, then turn the plank over and place salmon on the hot side of the plank.
  4. Cook the salmon over indirect heat for 25-30 minutes.
  5. Remove the plank/salmon from the grill and allow the fish to rest for 5-10 minutes. Carefully transfer the fish to your serving dish, and/or plate over a bed of rice.



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