Cedar Plank Salmon on the Big Green Egg

Planked Salmon on the GrillOne of the first dishes I tried on a charcoal grill is cedar plank salmon.  Despite its simplicity it was a huge success and an immediate favorite. I’m not sure where I found this recipe so please let me know if it’s yours.

Last night was my wife’s birthday and great weather for a BBQ so I went with this this faithful treat.  I also did some potatoes (with onions, butter, salt, and pepper), broccoli, and grilled cheese sandwiches in case the kids weren’t in the mood for fish…although I ended up eating the sandwiches.

Potatoes with onionsHere’s what you’ll need:

  • Salmon (as much as you need)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Cedar Plank
  • Pieces of the last Cedar Plank you used

This is a forgiving recipe so you can modify and still get great results.  Here are the basic steps:

  1. Salmon Grilling on the Big Gree EggSoak you cedar plank in water.  This is optional – I’ve skipped this step everything turned out just fine.
  2. Soak the pieces of the last cedar plank you used in different water.  I typically split the old plank into ½ inch strips by using the claws of a hammer as an axe.  Splitting down the grain is easy on these dried out prices of lumber.  It may also be a good idea to break the strips in half.  Soaking these pieces is not an optional step.  Burning the wet wood release a lot of moisture which the Big Green Egg is excellent at maintaining.  Using dry wood directly on the coals will also cause the wood to burn up in a matter of seconds so you won’t get an extended smoke.
  3. Light your Big Green Egg and heat to about 300 degrees.  Last night I actually lit it 1.5 hours before I started cooking.  I tossed a few potatoes on low heat while I finished work and picked up the kids.  By the time I was back the potatoes were cooked and the Big Green Egg was ready for the salmon.
  4. 300 Degrees on the Big Green EggPrepare the board by removing it from the water, sprinkling some sea salt on it and placing it on the grill.  When the sea salt begins to pop it’s ready for fish.  This step is designed to get your board smoking before you start cooking the fish.  Since I use extra cedar directly on the coals this step is less important to follow.
  5. Mix 3 parts soy sauce with 1 part sesame oil.  I typically don’t measure this and it always tastes good as long as your proportions are close.  Be sure to mix them well.  I usually shake them.
  6. Rinse and wipe the salmon.  Drying the fish will allow the soy sauce/sesame oil mixture to get some traction.
  7. Add your pieces of cedar directly to the coals.  This will throw up some great smoke and really take the fish to the next level.  Check out the video below to see what I’m talking about.
  8. Place the salmon on the cedar plank and brush it with the soy sauce/sesame oil mixture.  Don’t do this too early or the fish will become mushy.
  9.  Sprinkle some red pepper flakes over the fish.  Skip this step to make this a child friendly recipe.
  10. Cook for about 15-20 minutes.  You’ll know the fish is done when it flakes all the way through.  I follow two rules when cooking salmon.  First, never overcook it.  Salmon can go from perfect to dust in about a minute so be careful.  Second, if I’m not sure if it’s done – then it’s definitely done.

Checking Salmon for DonenessWhen your salmon is ready you can pull it off the grill and serve it on the plank.  Be sure the put it on some kind of dish or baking sheet (not fancy but it works) because the bottom will be a charred mess.  The plank will give off an aroma so heavenly your neighbors may show up.  Enjoy!

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