Cedar plank barbecuing is becoming all the rage … for some very tasty reasons.
This is an ancient method of cooking used along the Pacific North-West Coast among First Nations for some time. During a recent pre-ride cookout at Yukon Horsepacking Adventures, our expert chef, Naomi, demonstrated how it is properly done.
As when smoking fish or meat with wood chips, you can use different types of wood planks to barbecue a veritable plethora of grillables.
White or red cedar, alder and hickory are just a few of the varieties of planks on the market but, for Naomi this time, it was cedar to complement the sockeye salmon fillets on her menu.
It is possible to purchase either single use or reusable planks. Your average barbecue plank might measure approximately 24″ by 8″ by 1″, but the size of your ‘cue and the size of your fillet ultimately decide the size of your planks.
You may want to customize the size of your planks and, though I know this would not scare Yukoners, ensure your cooking planks are not roof shakes that have been treated with fire retardant.
I somehow always gravitate toward discussing setting stuff on fire, and barbecue planks are just what the doctor ordered.
Always keep a squirt bottle or glass of water nearby to put out small fires when you are plank cooking and expect to experience some crackling sounds and heavy smoke.
Fire is a huge part of the appeal connected to the whole plank enterprise so it is a good idea to give it the old college try to keep it under control.
Before being utilized for cooking, planks must be soaked in water for a good while, overnight, 12 hours or less depending on your recipe. Lightly oil the surface of the plank before use and, if you like, sprinkle a little salt on there as well.
Place your uncooked salmon fillet on the plank skin side down. You may put absolutely nothing on your fillet, or you might just squeeze on the juice of a chunk of lemon and sprinkle on some fresh ground pepper, dill or garlic before cooking.
Boards duly soaked, oiled and laden with salmon are then placed on the preheated barbecue and cooked – with the hood closed – at about 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of your fillets.
DO NOT flip the fillets: they are cooked from beginning to end skin side down until the fish begins to flake.
While grilling, you may want to baste your fillets using any combination of Soya sauce, garlic, lemon juice, virgin olive oil, onion, pepper and other favourite ingredients. Be aware that sugary recipes tend to burn, causing “black stuff” on your fish.
As soon as the fillets are cooked, remove them from the planks. Thanks to the light oil coating you remembered to put on before cooking, the fish will slide off onto your spatula. As mouth-watering as they are on their own, you may want to add chopped Spanish onion and lemon wedges for garnish.
Naomi complemented her superb planked salmon with a light Caesar salad, foil-baked potatoes with sour cream and green onion and a large bowl of fresh summer berries.
Although the iced tea was a nice addition, the word on the street is that a sassy little chardonnay would polish things off nicely.
Remember to buy locally when in season.