Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Right On ‘Que! Getting The Most Out Of Summer Grilling

I am evangelical about grilling in the summer! Any time of year for that matter, but there’s just something about cooking dinner outside, over an open flame on those sultry summer nights that speaks to me. That said I'm always interested in recipes and methods that not only make grilling easier, but more delicious.

In the last couple of years I’ve become quite a fan of grilling on natural red cedar planks. The method produces in the salmon an intoxicating aroma, beautiful texture and a smoky flavor from the cedar that subtly perfumes the fish. While I admit I’m not charting any new territory here, it’s a method that’s been around forever and one that most people have heard of, it’s surprising to me just how many people haven’t actually tried grilling on cedar for themselves. I’m on a mission to change that! If you find yourself hesitant or think the technique requires some sort of grilling super powers, let me assure you it’s no more difficult a proposition than getting yourselves some cedar planks, giving them a good soak in water for a few hours before grilling and whipping up a sweet-hot and deliciously sticky glaze that shellacs the outside of the salmon beautifully while maintaining its meltingly coral pinkiness on the inside.

The cedar planks themselves are inexpensive and easily found at any well-stocked grocery store, hardware stores and of course online. Amazon has several options available that can be delivered right to your door.

A few easy tips for successful plank grilling:

▪ Weigh the planks down while they’re soaking using something like a can or two from the pantry. The planks are buoyant and you want to ensure they’re good and water logged.

▪ Keep a spray bottle of water near the grill to extinguish any flare ups.

▪ What ever you do, don’t overcook the fish! Perfectly cooked salmon should still have a bit of a pink trail running through the middle of it. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees F. on an instant read thermometer.

▪ Let the salmon rest for 5 minutes or so loosely tented under some aluminum foil before digging in.

▪ Don’t even bother with a serving platter. The cedar plank makes a rustic and easy presentation without any extra clean up.

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon with Sweet-Hot & Sticky Glaze

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon tobasco sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 pound side of boneless, skin-on salmon filet (Wild if possible)
1 cedar plank, about 10 x 16 x ½-inch thick, soaked in water for 3 hours.
2 tablespoons olive oil

To make the glaze, sauté the ginger in the oil for about 30 seconds in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the orange juice, honey, tobacco, brown sugar, orange and lemon zests and pepper. Let the glaze simmer and reduce over low heat until it 2/3 evaporated and takes on thick, syrupy consistency. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the cilantro.

Preheat the grill to high.

Oil the skin side of the salmon and generously season with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay the salmon skin side down on the cedar plank. Place the plank with the salmon onto the grill and close the lid. Let cook for about 5 minutes before painting the salmon with the glaze. Continue to baste every 5 minutes or so until the salmon is done, about 18 to 24 minutes total, depending on the thickness of the filet. The internal temperature should read 135 degrees F. Transfer the salmon and plank to a platter and serve right off the plank.

Print Recipe


  1. Hi, wow - I'm not normally a salmon girl, but this sounds amazing! Turns out, cedar isn't just for closets anymore!

  2. I've been looking for a good grilled Salmon recipe, I can't wait to try it. Thanks, it looks awesome!

  3. David, your glaze recipe looks awesome. I'll try it and report back. Great photos too!