The secret to an excellent salmon dinner is the same as any recipe: FRESH ingredients. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have landed a Salmon very recently, if not, there is no shame in picking up a fresh cut of WILD caught Salmon from a specialty fish market. There are a myriad of ways to cook Salmon, and to call one way “the best” would be a discredit to all of the other wonderful methods. This recipe happens to be my favorite way to prepare Salmon, by grilling it on a cedar plank. All you will need are the following:
An untreated cedar plank, about one quarter inch in thickness.
A charcoal grill.
A spray bottle.
A container large enough to submerge your cedar plank.
Something to weigh your plank down. (I use a 1 gallon container of water.)
1-2 lb ultra fresh cut of wild Salmon
2 tbsp Butter
½ a fresh chopped Shalot
2-3 cloves of fresh minced Garlic
½ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Ground Pepper
1 tsp Dill
Preparation: The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a cedar plank. They sell planks specifically for grilling, but are almost always marked up to astronomical prices. You can buy them in bulk online for much cheaper, or even better you can pick up some UNTREATED pieces of cedar from the hardware store. It is incredibly important that they are untreated, you could end up killing somebody, even worse the Salmon would be ruined. If you’re not sure just get the ones sold specifically for grilling.
Next you’ll want to soak your cedar plank in beer, water, or a combination of both. I use beer exclusively. No need to get too fancy with it, PBR will do just fine. Lay the plank flat in a container and pour in enough beer for the plank to be submerged. Now take the “weight” and place it on the plank so that it will be pinned under the beer. Leave it like that for 6-12 hours. If you do it in the morning, you’ll be golden by dinner time.
Once the plank is good and ready it’s time to start prepping the grill. I know some of you will think I’m a snob for saying this, but, charcoal imparts a classic flavor synonymous with what BBQ is all about. That being said, you could use a gas grill, just don’t tell me about it. If you have a chimney for your charcoal grill, use it. Lighter fluid can add a chemical flavor to your fish if you don’t allow it to burn off completely, might as well use that time to fire up the chimney, and get the coals going the good ol’ fashoned way.
While the coals are getting nice and hot, you can start preparing your fish. I listed precise amounts for each of the ingredients above for those who like cooking like that. Personally, I feel you’ll produce a better meal if you just let it flow and adjust the amounts based on what you like. You’ll begin by removing your plank from it’s beer bath, where you’ll be engulfed by the first of many wonderful smells; the smell of beer infused with cedar. I have always wanted to drink it, but never have. I do know for sure I would try a cedar beer. (Someone please make a cedar beer.) Rinse that plank under cold water for a few seconds, then place your cut of Salmon on it skin side down. Cut the butter into a couple of squares and place them on top of the fish. If you would like something a little healthier, you could replace the butter with olive oil. Now squeeze half the lemon over the fish and sprinkle the garlic and shallots evenly over it as well. Be careful not to leave any seeds behind. The rest of the lemon can be cut into smaller sections and served with the finished product. Finally season the fish with the salt, pepper, and dill. I sometimes add some zest from the squeezed half of the lemon as well.
Grilling: Now that it is time to get the Salmon on the grill, disperse the coals evenly in the bottom. Close the vents on your grill so they are about 2/3 of the way shut. Pop your salmon on the grill and put the lid on. The temperature should get up to around 350°. It will only need to cook for about 8-10 minutes depending on how well done you prefer it. At about 5 minutes take the lid off. Keep a close eye on it the whole time, if the plank flares up use the spray bottle to take care of it. It’s best to use the squirt setting rather than the mist setting.
Once the Salmon is done to your preference it’s ready to enjoy. I like to serve it with sides like sauteed vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, and wild rice. The recipe also works incredibly will with fillets of trout. I hope you and your family will like this recipe as much as my family and I do.