cedar plank, wood, salmon, recipe, meal ideas, bbq, summer, summer entertaining

All About Planking

Chef Ali Hunter teaches us how to modernize this traditional cooking method for your next dinner party or event.

Lets talk planking! Formerly known as the funny trend that your teenaged kids post about online, and no its not a yoga move. I am referring to a good old cedar plank salmon. This method of cooking has been around for longer than our country has existed, the first recipe of cedar plank salmon was published over one hundred years ago. Due to the historical reliability of this cooking method, there is no better foolproof or classic summer recipe to have in your collection.

The cooking method of planking originated from the Pacific Northwest, when fisherman would come back with the days catch. The salmon would be hung on cedar planks to dry and be cooked over open flame. Cooking by cedar offers some unique benefits as opposed to baking or grilling your salmon on a regular baking tray. The indirect heat source works perfectly for fish, the most commonly used cedar being Western Red Cedar, and it seasons food perfectly leaving your salmon with an amazing aroma, not to mention the perfect subtle smokey flavour. Now that we are in the throws of summer and the grills have been fired up night after night, its time to head to your butcher or favourite local grocer to pick up some salmon and a cedar plank.

Cedar plank salmon is super versatile and great for any type of cook, adventurous or not. You can keep it simple by sticking to the basics by simply soaking the cedar in water and letting the wood work its magic with not much finesse. Or, you can tap into your inner chef and use different marinades, or even wine (yes wine!)  to create a meal that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. There are a few simple rules to keep in mind when cooking with a cedar plank. Avoid putting the plank in the oven or on the grill dry, as you may as well break out the s’mores and start roasting on the cedar campfire you will have created! Soak your plank in water or a flavourful liquid such as wine or dark beer for a minimum of one hour. Heat your grill to approximately 400F (a medium heat) and let the plank heat up to room temperature before adding any food items to it. Add your salmon to the pre-heated plank and smell the magic happening.

Wild Alaskan salmon fillet on a cedar plank that is ready to be grilled. It’s seasoned with garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Here is a trick that will keep your guests coming back for more, get an extra large piece of cedar and use half for the salmon and the other half for for well-oiled, seasoned vegetables of your choice.

Check out my recipe for Chimichurrii Cedar Plank Salmon, don’t let the fancy word discourage you, its very simple and the ingredients are likely growing in your herb garden now.


Ali Hunter

Ali Hunter

Hi, my name is Ali. I am a trained chef, a skier, a wife, a mom, and now a food blogger! My life takes me back and forth between Collingwood and Muskoka – two perfect places where I have enjoyed the outdoors and the unique offerings of food! I apply three key life rules to my cooking that make my dishes a success: Simplicity, quality and pure satisfaction. I love keeping things simple, I love buying and working with quality ingredients, and I believe these two principles combined should leave you totally satisfied too!

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