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Cedar Plank Grilled Great Lakes Salmon

Updated: Aug 3

(Total prep time: 15-minutes / total cook time: 20-minutes)

Our signature dish and definitely a crowd pleaser, cedar planked salmon is by far one of the most incredible lunch and dinner recipes. Chef's secret, we filet off the skin and remove the mud line. The next trick is waiting for your cedar plank to heat up enough to simmer the olive oil you've spread over it and permeate the air with those cedar oils. Once the plank is smoldering on the bottom it is finally hot enough to lay down your salmon, close the lid and stand downwind. What you end up with is one of the most delectable tastes and textures you will ever get out of a salmon filet.



INGREDIENTS (serves 4 adults)

  • 4 6oz center cut filets of salmon (King or Coho)

  • Olive Oil

  • 2 tbsp fine ground sea salt (Kosher will also do)

  • 2 tbsp fine or medium course ground black pepper (tri-blend will also do)

  • 1 tsp of Smoked Paprika

  • 2 sprigs of Rosemary

  • 2 sprigs of Thyme

  • 2 1/8" thick cedar planks

PREPERATION

For this dish, remove the skin from the salmon filet and wedge out the mud line. The mud line is what gives fish that "fishy" taste and makes for that unappetizing brown color you find when you cut into a filet of salmon at a restaurant. This is a must-do if you want to change the mind of that guest in your household that doesn't know they love salmon, yet!


To do this, use a flexible thin bladed filet knife and "wedge" out the dark colored mud line on the "skin side" of the filet after you remove the skin. The midline travels horizontally along the length of the filet and can vary in width depending on the size of the salmon.

Coat a dish with a light drizzle of olive oil. Add the four center cut filets of salmon to the dish and lightly sprinkle the Salt evenly over the salmon, but don't overdue it. Next, sprinkle the Ground Pepper evenly over the filets. Use a dash of Smoked Paprika to gently add color to the top side of each filet.


Now that your basic seasonings have been applied, it's time to add some fresh herbs - Rosemary and Thyme. Take your sprigs and remove the leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Next, finely chop the leaves and allow them to be blended. Lastly, sprinkle the fresh herbs evenly over the top side of the salmon filets. We always save a sprig to lay over each filet for presence and flavor during the cook process.


Use a glass dish to soak your cedar planks, this will prevent your sink from staining the color emitted from the acids and oils in the cedar wood. Soak the cedar completely submerged for at least 20-minutes.


Ready to grill?


We prefer hardwood lump coal for that touch of mesquite smoke, but use what you have and don't sweat the type of coal if you're down to your last half of original Kingsford. Build a bed of coals on one side of your grill and leave the other side empty for indirect cooking, you'll be grilling the cedar planks somewhere in the middle and eventually off the direct flame.


When the coals are ready, place the cedar plank over the coals and let them dry out and begin to heat up. Add a light coating of olive oil to the cedar planks. CAUTION: oil will flame up if it drips into the bed of flaming coals, so wear a glove if you have one and consider a basting brush to coat the cedar planks with the oil. Allow the oil to heat enough it begins to simmer on top of the cedar planks and for goodness sake, don't let the planks catch on fire. If they catch on fire it's not the end of the world, it adds flavor, but put that darn fire out ASAP.


When the cedar planks are smoldering below and the oil is simmering on top, place your salmon filets over the planks and make sure the planks are direct over the flame and close the lid of your grill. The goal is for the flames and heat from the fire beneath to surround the salmon so it cooks on the sides, which adds texture and flavor. If you've done everything right so far your filets will begin to form a thin "crust" on the bottom - this is the most amazing texture and taste you'll ever experience with fish, period.


Check the filets every five minutes to be sure the fire isn't taking over the wood planks. When you begin to see a white fatty substance escaping from the top-side of the filets, move the cedar planks to indirect heat and close the lid for two or three more minutes.


Use a thin spatula to very carefully and gently remove the salmon filets from the cedar planks and transfer them to a warm baking dish. Cover and bring inside, but discard the cedar planks - one and done use. Once inside, remove the sprig of Rosemary or Thyme as it will appear charred and dried out - discard. Use a fresh sprig for garnish when plating and enjoy!


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