Why You Should Be Cooking Your Salmon on Wood

Cedar plank salmon is a simple and delicious grilling method that prevents fish from sticking to the grill. The cedar infuses the salmon with a subtle smoky flavor.

Why You Should Be Cooking Your Salmon on Wood
A raw salmon fillet, seasoned with herbs and lemon, rests on a water-soaked cedar plank.

Okay foodies, we need to have a heart-to-heart. We've all been there – watching with bated breath as our beautifully seasoned salmon performs a death-defying escape act from the grill. One second it's picture-perfect, the next it's a mangled mess, half of it sacrificed to the grill gods. It's tragic, I tell you.

But then, I stumbled upon this cool hack called cedar plank salmon. At first, the idea of cooking my fish on a literal slab of wood gave me pause. Isn't that where beavers hang out? Turns out, culinary adventures have their own logic. Enter: the cedar plank method.

Why Your Salmon Wants to be Cooked on Cedar

Look, grilling directly on those metal bars is risky business. Indirect heat is where it's at, folks. That cedar plank isn't just a fancy coaster – it's a flavor infuser and a gentle cooking vessel all in one. Here's the breakdown:

  • Moisture Master: Ever had salmon that tastes like savory cardboard? Well, say goodbye to those days. The plank acts like a little steam room, giving you perfectly moist, flaky salmon every time.
  • Smokey Sweetness: The plank gives a lovely, subtle smokiness to the salmon that traditional grilling just can't replicate. Plus, a hint of cedar? Exquisite.
  • Foolproof: That's right, this method is as close to cooking on autopilot as you can get. You basically can't screw this up.
Cedar plank with cooked salmon on a barbecue grill, emitting a delicate smoke.
A cedar plank with perfectly cooked salmon rests on a grill grate, with wisps of smoke curling around it.

It's Easier Than Mastering TikTok Dances

Cedar plank cooking gives us the perfect amount – sizzling planks releasing fragrant smoke, tender salmon imbued with rich flavor, and an air of sophistication reserved for those 'in the know' about this ancient cooking method. But beyond the allure, does cedar plank salmon live up to the hype? Spoiler alert: yes, and it's surprisingly easy:

The Ritual of the Soak

Step one: It's a plank, not a speedboat. Don't toss those planks in the grill like you're trying to scorch them! Soaking your cedar for a few hours (2-6 is recommended) is like infusing it with a magical potion that releases smoky flavors later. It also prevents your dinner from going up in flames, a definite bonus.

Your Grill or Oven is the Stage

Get your heat source to a steady 350ºF – 400ºF. We're not searing steaks here; consider it to be a warm hug for your salmon and plank. Bonus points if you close your eyes and envision a crackling campfire at this stage.

Plank Placement and Salmon Zen

Your plank gets a few solo minutes on the heated grill (or in the oven) to unleash its inner campfire spirit. Then, your salmon—carefully patted dry—makes its grand entrance, sitting directly on the plank. This is where things get personal: herbs, spices, a splash of citrus—whatever makes your salmon sing.

The Art of Not Looking

Close that grill lid! This is where the magic happens, unseen but definitely smelled. You want those smoky cedar vibes working their way into your fish. Now, a short wait—12-20 minutes of glorious anticipation depending on the size of your salmon. Resist the temptation to peek too often. Your oven won't judge, but that plank might give you a little attitude if you lose its smoky momentum.

Serving with Flair

Presentation is key! Serve it right on that rustic-looking plank if you feel adventurous. Garnish with some fresh herbs to make your inner food stylist grin. Or, go rogue and slide the salmon onto a fancy plate (we won't tell). Don't discard that plank if it's still got life left, a quick scrub, and it's back in business.

Pro Tip: The internet is flooded with plank-tastic recipes to suit your mood, from simple salt and pepper to more involved sauce concoctions. Get creative, people! So, are you ready to give this delicious technique a spin? Trust me, once you go cedar, you'll never look at your grill grates the same way again.