On The Grill: Cedar Plank Blackened Salmon

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Grilling salmon on a cedar plank is a super fun way to introduce some smokey wood flavor into your fish! Due to the quick cook time, normal wood chunks don’t impart too much smokey flavor into your salmon. Placing your salmon in direct contact with a smoking wood plank therefore makes it much easier to drive that distinct flavor and smell into your fish! Another advantage of using a cedar plank is that you don’t have to worry about having your fish stick to the grill due to inefficient oiling, too little cooking, etc! Now I never worked on a real pirate ship, but I can say it’s probably much funner cooking with a plank than walking on one!

Salmon with blackened seasoning go really well with the smoky wood flavor you get from the plank! Blackened seasoning is a bold, Cajun-like seasoning that adds an awesome darker color that offers a nice layer of crispy-ness on the outside of your fish. Definitely one of my favorites!

Ingredients (for 4 servings)
-Four salmon filets (I used skin-less, boneless Atlantic salmon in the pictures)
-Blackened Seasoning Mix/Rub (I used Kinder’s Cali Blackened for this recipe).

Useful Equipment
-Weber Kettle
-2 cook-ready Cedar Wood planks (15 inch)
-Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes
-Spray bottle with water (for safety)
-Heat resistant gloves or oven mitts

Preparing Cedar Wood Planks
1) Soak your wood planks in water at least an hour prior to cooking. It’s helpful to fill a baking pan with water, then placing your wood into the baking pan. Add some weight on top of the planks to completely submerge them in water, as they may float
NOTE: Do NOT skip this step if you are cooking with wood planks. If you do not pre-soak, your planks have a high risk of catching fire, and can burn your salmon, and quite possibly cause a fire. Please execute proper safety and precaution!

Salmon Preparation
1) Prepare your charcoal or gas grill, and configure it to a one zone fire for direct, medium heat (temperature 350-400°F)
2) Season salmon filet generously on all sides with Blackened Rub, no more than 30 minutes before cooking

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Salmon with rub on all sides. Do it just prior to grilling, at max 30 minutes

3) When grill is prepared, add your soaked wood planks on direct heat and allow to pre-heat for 5-10 minutes, and you start seeing smoke from the plank.

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Soaked planks directly on top of coals. Get ready to hear some crackling!

4) After 5-10 minutes, flip the planks over and add salmon directly onto the plate. Cover grill with lid and cook for approx 20-25 minutes, or until salmon is done.

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Planks flipped over, and salmon placed directly on top

5) After salmon is done cooking, remove the entire wooden plank with salmon on top from the grill and let cool. You can serve directly on the wood plank or transfer to another plate. Serve with rice, salad, or other sides of your choosing!

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How do you tell if your salmon is done? You have a couple ways to do it!
a)The most surefire way is to use a temperature probe and see if the thickest portion registers 145°F. I recommend taking the salmon off at 135°F or 140°F and allowing carryover cooking to bring it up to temperature. When using real fresh Atlantic salmon, it’s fine to slightly under-cook it as opposed to overcooking it and drying it out! However, if you are using a older, not-as-fresh salmon; it is best to cook through to 145°F to ensure food safety.
b) No temperature probe? You can physically see that it’s done cooking if the salmon color is a more opaque, pinkish color. Cooked salmon is also really easy to flake with a fork.
-When you are cooking with the planks, it is normal to hear a cracking sound coming from your plank as it heats up. Don’t be scared! There are worst things to be scared of, such as property taxes, or accidentally forgetting to soak the plank. Don’t forget to soak the plank.
-Do not put rub on your salmon too soon! While seasoning beef, chicken and pork early is advantageous for adding moisture and flavor; adding seasoning to your salmon too early can be very counter-intuitive. Fish absorbs the salts very quickly and easily, and can negatively draw out moisture and discolor the fish. Season right before cooking, 30 minutes max!
-Make sure your salmon is thawed thoroughly prior to cooking! I had one filet that was wasn’t completely thawed, which resorted in overcooking the outside in order to fully cook the inside
-Salmon has a good amount of protein known as albumin that is liquid form at room temperature. This protein tends to coagulate into a white semi-solid “gel” when the salmon reaches 140-150°F. If you see a ton of solid albumin forming on your salmon, it is an indicator that you may have overcooked your salmon. Try to avoid this!

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