My local Whole Foods has a display of wooden boards for grilling fish set up in front of their seafood counter. You can choose a cedar, maple, or cherry board and then pair it with a compatible fish. The friendly merchant confessed that she was crazy about the cherry plank, but I chose cedar since it matches up admirably with salmon, the fish I am planning to use.
Whatever your selection, when fish is set atop a wooden plank, then placed on a grill (whether charcoal or gas), the wood imparts a lovely smokiness to the seafood. What, I thought, could be better to grill on this long holiday weekend than marinated salmon fillets on a cedar plank. For my recipe (a favorite I created several years ago) I use a simple, yet distinctive marinade of maple syrup, lime juice, soy sauce, and fresh ginger. The ingredients provide, respectively, sweet, tart, salty, and spicy notes that complement the scent of smoked wood.
While the fish is marinating, I’ll soak the cedar plank in water. Then after preparing the grill, I’ll heat the plank for a few minutes, place the salmon on it, and put down the lid. In about 15 minutes, the cedar will have imparted a smoky scent to the fish, which turns a light mahogany color. I plan to serve the fillets right on the plank, with a garnish of chopped cilantro and green onions sprinkled over each. Corn on the cob and a bracing slaw would make fine sides.
Happy Labor Day weekend to all of you!