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How to: salmon fillets on cedar plank

See how cedar can boost smoky flavor and cut fishy mess.

  • Four 4–6 oz. salmon fillets
  • Lemon
  • Salt & pepper
  • Cedar plank
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Servings: 4

Cooking salmon fillets on a cedar plank is a simple way to impart smoky flavor, maintain moisture, and keep fish from sticking on the grates.

  1. 1

    Soak the plank.

  2. Prepare a cedar plank by soaking in water for 2 hours while you light the fire and season your salmon fillets.
  3. 2

    Fire up the grill.

  4. Set up a direct heat, two-zone fire, medium-hot fire. Fire up a full chimney of Kingsford® Original Charcoal, or light a pile of about 100 briquettes. When the coals are ready, replace the top grate and allow it to heat up.
  5. 3

    Prep your salmon.

  6. Rinse each fillet in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Run your fingers over the fish, feeling for bones, and remove them with kitchen tweezers. Season the fish as you like. Keep the fish refrigerated until the coals are ready—you don’t need to bring fish fillets to room temperature before grilling.
  7. 4

    Plank your fillets.

  8. Some cooks like to pre-heat the plank first until it starts to crackle and smoke a bit. You can also simply place the plank with the fish fillets on the cooler side of the grill.
  9. 5

    Grill your fillets.

  10. Cook fillets with the lid on for 13–15 minutes, without flipping. If the edges of the plank start to flare up, spritz the plank, not the coals, with a mister. Cook until the edges of the fish are lightly browned or the fish flakes easily, about 145°F.
  11. 6

    Check for doneness.

  12. Salmon fillets have a very small window of doneness, so don’t walk away from the grill. The time it takes to grill a fish fillet varies greatly with thickness, but a general rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Use a knife to check the center of the fillet when it’s nearing done. For thin fillets, when the meat is consistently opaque and flakes easily, it’s done. For thick fillets, you want to remove it when the middle is just slightly translucent, because thicker fillets will continue to cook for a few minutes after you remove them from the grill.
The larger the fillet, the more moisture it retains throughout the cooking process. So, grill whole fillets first, then cut them into smaller serving portions when they’re done.
Fish skin is much easier to remove after the fish has been cooked.
Pitmaster Secret: For thick fillets, cook it as long as possible on the skin side, then flip it.

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