Cedar Plank Smoked Alaskan Salmon

Dear Salmon,

I am no longer afraid of you… the end!


Cedar Plank Salmon

Dan’s boss went on a wonderful vacation to Alaska and kindly gave us some salmon and yellowfin tuna that he had caught on one of his fishing excursions. Both had been sitting in our freezer for a bit and since I’m doing a huge grocery store challenge (more on that in my next post) – I decided enough is enough. I must cook the salmon.

My friend Paul was up from the bay area for a weekend visit and we are the queen and queen 🙂 of watching our weight, health, etc. since our college days. Always trying our best, not always succeeding… but getting right back to it more often than not.

A healthy, delicious dinner was my plan going into the weekend. I got a gift card from Ace’s Mom for my birthday and decided to buy some cedar planks to cook my salmon. Jenna from EatLiveRun has blogged several times about her boyfriend Adam’s amazing cedar planked smoked salmon, so I thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – different portion size, ingredient substitution, different spice measurements, etc. – but it was very close.

The Ingredients:
For the Marinade
1/4 Cup Chardonnay
1/4 Cup Dill
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 Tablespoon Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Black Pepper

For the Salmon
1 Large Salmon Filet – ours was just about 2 lbs. with the skin on
1 Lemon – sliced thin
2 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary – soaked in water
1 Cedar Plank – soaked in water

Paul and I went to 3 grocery stores looking for fresh dill. WTH? Was it National Fresh Dill Day this past weekend? All stores were sold out. I was not going to hit a 4th store, so I opted to get a tube of dill. I had never used the Gourmet Garden herb blends before. I honestly think the only difference was the texture… Still organic, just a little more “wet” than fresh would have been, but it worked as a successful substitute for sure. Mental note: I really need to start an herb garden.


  1. Soak cedar plank (planks if cooking more than 1 piece of salmon) in hot water (to start) for up to 24 hours. I soaked mine for about 3 hours.
  2. Mix together all marinade ingredients. (1/4 cup chardonnay, 1/4 cup dill, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tablespoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper)
  3. Pour marinade over salmon and refrigerate for an hour – I flipped the salmon a few times during the process.
  4. Heat the grill to 450 degrees F. I honestly have no idea what temp. my grill was set  for – I moved 2 of the knobs to medium and left 2 on high while it heated up – the built in thermometer has never really worked.
  5. After the salmon has marinated, lay fish on the soaked plank and top with lemon slices and rosemary sprigs. Feel free to use less of each, I love a lemony fish, so I went for it. I used a baking sheet to transfer the plank to the grill.
  6. Place plank (with fish) on grill for 20-25 minutes.

I placed the salmon skin side down.

I used potholders to place the plank straight onto the hot grill and set the timer for 20 minutes. We noticed a lot of smoke coming from the BBQ about 10 minutes in, but I didn’t want to open the BBQ. I told Paul and Dan that if for some reason the plank had gone up in flames and our dinner was ruined,  we could always order pizza or eat cereal – ha! ha! I turned the heat down to medium on all knobs and crossed my fingers.

In the end, I had burnt rosemary sprigs (will soak in water next time)… and a totally charred cedar plank (not sure if that’s normal or not, will soak for longer next time)…. but man did the salmon look good! 122, 123, 124 degrees… and then a perfect 125 degrees F., then it stopped…. awesome! Spot on internal temp.

I was easily able to lift the salmon right off the skin… I sliced it into 3 pieces and this is when I noticed that I had failed to remove any of the pin bones. What can I say? I’m a salmon newbie and will be doing this step next time before marinating. Dan had very few bones in his piece, I had 5 or 6 and Paul won the jackpot with just over that. Whoops…. nobody seemed to complain, the taste pretty much cancelled out any negative, OH MY GOD! it was wonderful.

Cedar Planked Salmon

I used my veggie cutter to whip up some zucchini pasta noodles and sauteed those in extra virgin olive oil with garlic, ground sea salt and pepper. I also heated up some fresh bread for our meal. Light and healthy and a wonderful end to a fun day with my BFF. I will definitely be making this and other plank fish throughout the summer. I read a few other recipes where they soaked the planks in wine… thinking my initial temp. was too high, because my plank really charred on the ends, probably a good idea I stay away from soaking them in alcohol. A glass or two with dinner sounds like a better option than burning down our new patio cover.

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    • kapgar on June 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    This is officially bookmarked for later reference.

    • Tina on June 25, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Hi Fu,

    I always soak the planks over night. Then I let them dry, so I dont place my fish on a wet board. You want them to dry a bit, so some of the wood smell, flavor can get into your fish while it cooks. If the board is wet, it wont taste as woody (the fish)..and this is the point.

    If you ever decide to grill salmon on the grill, directly, always put it skin side down. Let it get nice and dark, almost burned and then flip. Flip only once, so you dont destroy the fish.

    I have an amazing Asian marinate for salmo (we are huge fish eaters in my house), which I could share with you if interested.

      • foodiddy on June 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      I would love your Asian marinade recipe and thanks for the tips.

    • Deede on June 26, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Excellent Kath! Way to conquer your fish. That looks amazing, now I’m going to need to try this.

      • foodiddy on June 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Yay, I made fish my beyotch 🙂

    • Amy on June 26, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Looks great, Kath! I am scared to make fish but love it so much. I’ve broiled it before but grilling is my next test! 🙂

    • Laurie on June 27, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Making tonight for dinner. Sounds yummy!

    • Paul on July 23, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Always a treat visiting and cooking with you! Thanks for the great time and the delisch dinner. (Bones were minor and not a dealbreaker.)

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