Posts Tagged ‘alder plank’


Hello there (relative caught) Alaska salmon!

Did the usual soaking of cedar planks in apple juice.  And did the usual light amounts of salt, pepper, garlic and brown sugar. One difference from past attempts: I did cook the salmon a little hotter than before. Bluntly, the heat got away from me while I was busy doing dishes. Hit 325 at one point. But the result: Perfect as usual.  Planking your fish not only tastes great, but it seems to double a decent heat shield.  Seems kind of hard to screw up your salmon on a plank, as long as you don’t over cook.

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Alder Plank Barbecue Salmon

King salmon filet

When you move to the Pacific Northwest you learn two things. First, never to wait for a sunny day to do things, or else you’ll never do anything. Second, just how good fresh king salmon can be.  Which is why tonight I barbecued salmon, and did so in the pouring rain. 

When my 9yo daughter made barfy face over the idea of salmon for dinner, I lectured her. Where I grew up, salmon was something that came in a can, right between the little cat-food-looking tins of deviled ham and the Bumble Bee tuna. Blech.

I think those days are over in most parts of the country, but still, here in Seattle, you really can find ‘it was swimming this morning’ salmon, and I think we’re pretty lucky.

The lecture didn’t work. So I made my daughter grilled cheese instead, which ironically, wasn’t grilled.

First: What kind of salmon should you barbecue?

Well, sadly, flavor isn’t everything.  I’ve always thought farmed salmon tasted better than wild salmon.  The farmed salmon is fattier, more full of fat, and furthermore, it’s a lot fattier.  Yum.

But I don’t use it.

There’s this small matter of high levels of PCBs that apparently are prevalent in farmed salmon.  Ugh.  Plus farmed salmon tends to be dyed, Easter egg style, which is ridiculous. (Why? Seriously, why?) And rumor has it that farmed salmon also has cooties.

To be fair: The American Heart Association will tell you the health benefits of eating salmon, even farmed, far outweigh the risks. Sounds reasonable. But the fact is, wild salmon is delicious, so for a few dollars more it’s easy enough to avoid the extra carcinogens.

Meanwhile, there are lots of different kinds of salmon: Silver, King, Coho, and so on.  I don’t really have an opinion on what’s best or what you should buy.  However, I will say the single best bite of salmon I’ve ever had was a King salmon.

How can I be so sure? Because I’m talking about the salmon I had tonight

The Recipe:

The salmon we ate tonight really might have been the best salmon I’ve ever cooked. No lie. And it was easy.

It was the first time I tried cooking fish on an alder plank.  I followed a recipe recommended by Seattle’s best seafood shop (Mutual Fish Company).  Their recipe, plus

Alder plank soaking in apple cider and water.

incredibly fresh fish, plus the Kamado, plus the alder plank, plus some hickory on the coals, and Wow!  Incredible results.

Here’s the technique:

  • Starting at least 6 hours before your cook, soak the alder plank in a mix of water and apple cider.  (The cider means it needs to stay in the refrigerator).  I’ve seen instructions that say a 20 minute soak is enough, but every forum listing I read said 6, 12 or even 24 hours.
  • I got the grill to stabilize about 325 degrees. And I put a single handful of wet hickory chips on the coals
  • Prep the fish by rubbing it on both sides with olive oil. On the meat side also apply light salt, pepper and a small amount of minced garlic. Then sprinkle the fish with a few pinches of brown sugar.
  • Take the alder plank out of its bath, place it on the grill, and then put the fish on the plank skin side down. Close the lid.
  • I generally cook a salmon until I see a uniform cooked color on top, and can see the beads of white fat beginning to form on top of the thickest part of the fish. Err on the side of caution though. Over-cooked salmon is a tragedy.
  • I did choose to turn the plank once or twice when I noticed the fish seemed to be cooking faster on the coal side.  However, I really tried to keep the lid closed as much as possible.

I do have another salmon recipe that I really enjoy, but haven’t tried it on the alder plank yet.  I’ll try that next time I cook salmon, and let you know which is best.

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