One of my favorite cooking methods is grilling on a cedar plank. It makes everything taste delicious by adding a smoky flavor. Baby octopus, bacon, chicken, (any) red meat… almost anything can be cooked atop a wooden plank.
Salmon is probably the most common ingredient cooked this way. Plank-grilling fish is said to have started in the Pacific Northwest by the Haida, and it certainly hasn’t lost its popularity. Cedar plank salmon is found on menus throughout Canada and is a favorite at weekend barbecues. In camp, it’s a surefire way to present an impressive dinner, with minimal ingredients and practically zero dishes!
- Filet of salmon
- 1 cup 100% pure maple syrup (or substitute with brown sugar)
- 5 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- Salt & pepper to taste
Cut a cedar plank (or untreated wood of your choice) to fit your fire or bbq. The thickness of the plank will depend on how long your food needs to cook. I use a one-inch plank for all my meats (partly because I’m using leftover cedar from completed construction projects), but you can cut planks closer to 3/4 inch thick if you want your fish to cook faster.
Soak your plank before cooking on it. I soak mine in the river overnight by stacking a few rocks on it so it doesn’t float away. A bathtub is a great alternative if you need somewhere to accommodate the plank’s length. Be sure to soak it for a minimum of two hours.
Mix the syrup, mustard, salt and pepper together and then slather onto the salmon. Let marinade for an hour.
To achieve maximum smoke flavor, place your board above the fire until the plank starts to smoke (around 10 minutes). I admit that on lazy days I put the salmon onto the plank without waiting for it to pre-heat — it still gets a beautiful smokey taste.
You’ll want the fire to be high enough to tickle the bottom of the plank, but not high enough to light the plank on fire. Have a spray bottle handy just in case.
Let the salmon cook for 30 to 45 minutes. The one-inch plank takes closer to 45 minutes. Cover with tinfoil to expedite the process.
Remove from flames, serve, and toss the plank into the fire so the bears don’t get it.