We have been living in the Pacific Northwest, and specifically, the Puget Sound in Western Washington, since 1980. Yes, we get a little rain here but it is the rain that keeps everything green and beautiful. I am a transplant from California and I am staying here in this beautiful green forested state!
One of the great benefits of living in this area is the seafood which is varied and abundant. Such as salmon, ling cod, halibut, crab, oysters, shrimp and clams. Just to name a few of my favorites. Salmon is at the top of the list and prepared any way, grilled, baked, roasted, fish and chips, even raw as in sushi!
We have a creek in our backyard and the salmon are running as I speak. Sometimes I can see them from my kitchen window leaping and splashing out of the water. To me, that is just another one of the great mysteries of nature that these slippery guys know how to get back to where they started. Each year we begin looking for them in mid to late November, but, they are not edible as by the time they make it up the creek this far they are pretty beat up and sad looking.
Today I am preparing salmon baked on a cedar plank. This recipe is from my Ivar’s Seafood Cookbook and if you have ever been to Seattle you probably have heard, or visited the famous Ivar’s Fish Bar near Pikes Place Market. They really do a great job with their seafood.
For centuries, natives of the Pacific Northwest roasted salmon on planks carved from the same cedars that they used for their canoes. The plank served as a cooking vessel as well as their dinner plate. The twenty-first century finds us with a good many more cooking options than the early natives but it is still fun to try the old ways occasionally
Now-days it is most common to grill your cedar plank salmon on your outdoor BBQ grill but this is Winter time and although we have been having the most beautiful sunny days for the past week it is still 27 degrees in my backyard so no outdoor grilling. I am going to use my oven.
The cedar plank needs a good soak, the longer the better so that it doesn’t char and smoke up the kitchen. I just put my cedar plank in a roasting pan with water and leave it a couple hours. Also, I weight it down with a jar of jam or something so it doesn’t float but stays covered with the water. You could also use white wine or apple cider for the soak rather than the water but I want just the flavor of the fish and the wood.
There is a sweet, smoky flavor derived from the cedar plank and it is a great technique for cooking salmon or any other meat where you want to add a woodsy taste. I am going to serve this drizzled with a lemony-dill vinaigrette with chopped hazelnuts. Enjoy!
You can purchase cedar planks just about any place they sell BBQ grill equipment but you will pay about $8 for two planks of about 5”x12”. Or…. you can go to your local lumber yard and purchase untreated cedar siding board for about $10 and cut a bunch of them yourself.
Cedar-Plank Sockeye Salmon with Hazelnut Vinaigrette
Yield 2 -4
Oven-baked Cedar-Plank Sockeye Salmon with a hazelnut vinaigrette is easy to prepare and delicious to eat. Seasoned with lemon and dill and served with a vinaigrette of toasted hazelnuts.
- 1 pound fresh wild-caught sockeye salmon filet with skin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salmon seasoning or rub
- 1 cedar plank
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1-1/2 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup hazelnut oil
- ¼ cup light olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Immerse the grilling plank in water and soak for 2 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Put the plank into the oven to preheat for 15 minutes. Remove the plank from the oven and
- place it on a baking tray and lay the salmon, skin side down, on top. Brush the salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with the seasoning.
- Transfer the tray with the plank and fish into the oven and cook for15 to 20 minutes. Check for doneness by cutting into the thickest part of the salmon. Remove from the oven when it is firm and barely opaque all the way through (about 140°), transfer to a serving plate, drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.
- To make the vinaigrette:
- Into a food processor or blender, whirl the vinegar, shallots, mustard, honey and lemon juice until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oils, processing until well combined, then transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Whisk in the hazelnuts and dill. Salt and pepper to taste.
With proper care you should be able to reuse your plank several times before tossing it in the woodstove. Just scrub your plank with coarse salt, cold water and lemon juice. This will help to keep it smelling fresh. Do not use soap, as it will leave a trace of flavor.