While beef and chicken are some of the most popular meats cooked on a grill, grilled seafood is also very popular. Salmon is one of the tastiest and has great health benefits.
Besides grilled salmon on planks is especially delicious and is simple to do. You’ll be cooking gourmet food right in your backyard!
Health Benefits of Salmon
Salmon is a high protein, low calorie dish that is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats that are important for adults and children; studies suggest that they can help prevent heart disease and also help with healthy joints. The USDA recommends that adults eat two servings of fish that are high in Omega-3s every week. Salmon has some of the highest Omega-3 content. Beef, chicken, and pork have almost none.
Salmon is also low in calories, with one serving containing only about 200 calories. That’s better than beef or chicken! It’s also rich in a number of vitamins.
Grilled Salmon on Planks
So how do you grill salmon? While you can just throw a fillet of salmon on the grill and grill it, a much more fun, flavorful, and gourmet method is to grill the salmon on a plank of wood. This was originally done by the Indians of the Pacific Northwest who fastened salmon onto planks of cedar and cooked it by placing the planked salmon near the fire. You can use the same method, except with a plank of cedar wood laid down on your grill.
Here’s how to grill salmon on a cedar plank. You’ll need a cedar plank, a fillet of salmon, and some seasonings. You may be able to find cedar planks in your local area that are made for grilling, but you can also get them here.
I like to use a rub on the salmon, but you can just sprinkle it with coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. To try the rub that I used, mix the following in a bowl and rub onto the salmon fillet before you grill:
- 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp coarse salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Soak the cedar plank in water for at least one hour. This helps keep the plank from going up in flames as you grill. To have a bit more flavor, you can add other liquids or seasonings to the water (apple juice and some lemon slices, for example). You can get even more exotic by soaking the plank in wine instead of water.
The planks can run 13-15 inches long, so you’ll need something long enough to hold the plank. I used a cooler, but anything long enough will do. You’ll also need to put something heavy on the plank to hold it down as it soaks.
When you are ready to start cooking, get your grill heated up to 350 degrees. Remove the plank from the water and put it on the grill. If you are using a plank that you purchased, there is generally a smooth side and a rough side. Put the smooth side down. Close the lid to your grill and let the plank heat up. This should take no more than 3 minutes. When it starts to smoke and crack, it’s done. Don’t heat it up too long, or it will start to burn.
Remove the plank with some tongs and flip it over. Brush a light coating of olive oil onto the plank to keep the salmon from sticking. Place the salmon fillet on the plank and return it to the grill. If the salmon is too wide, trim the edges so that it is the width of the plank; you can lay the trimmed pieces on the plank and cook them as well.
Turn down the flame of the burners below the plank to their lowest settings and close the grill cover. Let the salmon cook for 8 minutes. Don’t open the grill cover during that time. The wonderful smoky cedar flavor will start to fill the grill and you want to keep it there!
After 8 minutes, check your salmon and make sure the plank is not burning. If it is, just put the flames out with a spray bottle of water. Continue to grill the salmon until it is flaky, which is usually about 12 -15 minutes. When it’s done, you can cut portions of the salmon right on the plank and serve.
Using cedar planks is a great way to add some additional flavor to your grilling. In addition to salmon, you can use them on your grill to cook other seafood, pork, chicken, steaks, even vegetables. I hope you’ll give it a try!
I’m guest blogging for Angie this month on healthy grilling. In case you missed them, here are the other articles that I’m sharing:
I’m already looking forward to the next article, which is grilled asparagus!
Scott loves to cook outdoors–his motto is “It always tastes better when it’s cooked outdoors!” Check out his Outdoor Cooking Magic Tricks for tips and recipes for cooking delicious meals right in your own backyard.