This week, this “Grill-More Girl” decided to get a little adventurous and tried her hand at making Cedar Plank Salmon & Asparagus. If you’ve never tried wood plank grilling, don’t be intimidated-it’s is a great and easy way to infuse food with a smoky aromatic flavor.
Salmon and asparagus grilling on a cedar plank
Grilling with a plank is a lot like using a pan. In addition adding extra flavor and moisture to your food, it’s a good method to use when grilling veggies or something delicate like fish fillets because it provides a good, stable surface to put your food on (plus it keeps things like asparagus from rolling off the grill and into the fire!). Basically, it works like this: as you grill your food, the wood plank starts to char from the heat and the smoke from the plank subtly flavors your food. There are different wood planks you can use to give your foods different flavors, like cherry, maple, oak and apple. The most common type of plank, and the one I used for this recipe, is cedar. Grilling planks are no longer regulated to gourmet shops and high-end food stores. You can find them in your local grocery store, or even in big-box hardware stores, in the outdoor aisles. They come in packs ranging from 2 to 8 planks and cost anywhere from $10-20.
Before using your plank, you’ll need to prepare it for grilling by soaking it in water for at least an hour. This is a VERY important step because it prevents the plank from bursting into flames on the grill! I’ve read in some grilling cookbooks that you can also add white wine, apple juice or citrus to the soaking water to accent wood aromas, but I didn’t try it (maybe next time). It’s also a good idea to have a spray bottle filled with water handy in case of any fire, so you can extinguish them quickly and not have your food go up in flames!
Cedar planks impart a sweet and woodsy flavor to seafood and are a perfect compliment to salmon. I made a basic Asian-inspired marinade with Dijon mustard, sweet sake, honey, sesame oil, minced garlic, rice wine vinegar and some spices. I marinated my two salmon filets for 45 minutes before grilling. I also tossed my asparagus in a simple marinade of oil, lemon juice/zest, salt & pepper.
Everything went on the grill at the same time, all on the same plank. The key to cooking here is to keep the grill lid closed as much as possible to maintain the heat and maximize the smoking to infuse the food. Since you don’t have to turn over planked food, keeping the lid closed is fairly easy. Both the salmon and asparagus needed about the same amount of time to cook and in 20 minutes, dinner was served.
The finished dish, YUM!
Cedar Plank Salmon & Asparagus
Prep time: 1 hour, mostly marinating time
Cook time: approximately 20 minutes
Serves: 2 people
Ingredients – Salmon
2 6 – 8 oz salmon filets (skinless or skin on, your preference)
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp stone ground mustard
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
¾ tbsp mirin (sweet sake)
1 tsp honey
½ tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp dried cilantro
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
Ingredients – Asparagus
1 lb asparagus
1 ½ tsbp extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon juiced & zested
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
- Submerge cedar plank in water bath for at least 1 hour before grilling.
- For Salmon – In a large shallow bowl, mix sesame & extra virgin olive oil, mustards, rice wine vinegar, mirin, honey minced garlic, dried cilantro, salt & pepper and whisk until all ingredients are incorporated. It should be the consistency of a medium thick marinade. Place salmon filets into the dish, coat and cover with marinade for at least 45 minutes before grilling.
- For asparagus, trim the tough ends of the asparagus and if they are thick, peel them. Place in a shallow dish and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice & zest, salt and pepper and toss to coat the asparagus completely.
- Turn the grill on to medium-high heat
- When grill has heated up, place cedar plank in the middle of the grill and place salmon filets at one end, the asparagus, in one thin layer, on the other side of the plank.
- Keep grill lid closed as much as possible, checking at 10 minute intervals until done. The salmon is done when it is uniformly pink in the center and asparagus is done when you can pierce stalks easily with a knife.
- Remove from heat, plate and serve.
With just a little bit of planning and preparation there’s always time for a home cooked meal! Make sure that you check out my “Grill-More Girl” Cristina over at centraljerseyworkingmoms.com to see what she cooked up this week as well. But before you hop on over there, don’t forget to link up your yummy grilling recipe below!
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