Plank It Up

Sockeye is in season and if you haven’t yet discovered the ease and piquant flavour of cooking fish on a cedar plank, now is the time.

Planks infuse a wonderful woodsy taste to fish as well as minimizing the mess in cleaning up.

Following are two recipes, a really easy one and a more challenging one to give you some practice in “planking the fish”.

Maple-Glazed Cedar Salmon (Easy)


1 cedar plank (approximately a 17- by 8-inch plank)

1 salmon fillet (about 1½ pounds, skin on)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons maple syrup

¼ cup green onions, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Additional fresh lemon juice


Presoak the cedar plank in cold water for at least one hour.

In a small bowl, mix together the oil, garlic, mustard, maple syrup, green onions and salt and pepper.

Spread this mixture overtop of the salmon (skin should be placed down; you want the marinade on the reddish side of the salmon).

Light the barbecue.

Place the cedar plank inside the hot barbecue, sprinkle the plank with a bit of salt and close the lid for about two minutes to allow plank to preheat. Watch carefully.

Carefully place the salmon fillet (skin side down) onto the salted, heated plank.

Brush half of the remaining marinade onto the fish.

Close the lid and let the fish cook at 325F for 10 minutes.

Lift the lid and apply any remaining marinade onto the fish.

Close the lid and cook an additional eight to 10 minutes until the salmon flakes: the time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish. The general rule is to cook fish 10 minutes per inch of thickness and not to overcook.

Remove the plank with the cooked fish and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice.

Serve and enjoy.

Barbecue-Seasoned Planked Salmon (Challenging)


1 salmon fillet (about 1 and ½ pounds, skin on)

1 cedar plank (approximately a 17- by 8-inch plank)

1 tablespoon barbecue seasoning

½ cup fresh dill, chopped or use 1 tablespoon dried dill weed

½ cup shallots or green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Dry Rub (recipe to follow)

Salt and pepper


Season salmon with barbecue seasoning and set aside (refrigerate).

Have the cedar plank soaking in cold water.

Light the barbecue.

Mix together the dill, shallots, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and “Fish Spice”.

Spread this over the fish fillet.

Season the soaked plank with salt, place on the grill and close the lid. Allow the plank to heat up for about two minutes. Watch carefully.

Open the lid and carefully place the prepared salmon fillet (skin side down) onto the plank.

Close the lid and grill for about 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish: 10 minutes cooking for each inch of fish).

Check fish: the flesh will flake when it is cooked.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the fish and serve.

Pat McKenna has a B.Sc in Food Science, Bachelor of Education and is a Red Seal Inter-Provincial Chef. She teaches the FEAST Program at F.H. Collins Secondary School.

Tips for planking the fish …

You can re-use cedar planks. Scrub the used plank well to remove any fish residue, let it drip dry and then wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in a bag. Store it in the freezer.

You can usually get two or three uses out of one plank.

Keep a spritzer or bowl of water handy to douse any little flames on the plank if you get the heat too high.

Dry Rub

This is a basic dry rub that is useful for fish and other wild meats.

Mix together and store in a glass jar. Then rub onto uncooked meat or fish before cooking.


¼ cup brown or demerara sugar

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon mustard seeds, cracked (use a mortar and pestle)

2 teaspoons dry dill weed

1 teaspoon ground coriander seed

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

2 tablespoons dry or granulated onion

1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder or flakes

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