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08 April 2013


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no one

Coincidentally, we were having our first real spring day yesterday; sun was shining, birds singing...my wife and I jogged some horses to start preparing for racing after a couple months winter lay up (today I have a slight sunburn and sore legs). Any how, I too did up some salmon steaks - in my Coleman smoker. Delicious!

I am curious, what is the theory behind the plank? Is there a type of wood that is preferred? Do you purchase the planks some where or do you make them yourself. Plank cooking is something I've heard about, but never seen or tasted.


no one

Cedar, Alder, Maple, Oak, maybe other wood. Must be untreated. Hardware store or on-line. the plank both steams the fish and flavors it with smoke from slight charring. pl


Do the dimensions of the plank matter?

Also, for indirect flame, are you placing an empty tin in the middle of the grill and pouring the coals on the outer edges?

Maureen Lang

The true Herald of Springtime: getting out the canvas bag of grilling implements...

We had a terribly blustery day here yesterday-definitely not bbq weather- but the next time we do salmon outside I'm trying this method. A friend in San Clemente (looking at you, Panaman) uses cider to soak the planks- delicious results. Have to ask him what kind of wood he uses...smoke smell somewhat obscured by the toasting cider aroma.



Planks usually about a quarter of an inch think. Maureen the cider idea sounds awesome. Some people flavor the soaking water with bourbon. I use a gas grill with a hood and two sets of burners so. I heat the grill with both burners and then turn one off while I cook this way with the hood closed. pl


Thanks. The bourbon and cider ideas do sound fantastic. I'm on a Weber charcoal grill but have been studying indirect techniques. Gathering the courage to do a turkey.

The Twisted Genius

I suggest picking up a bundle of cedar siding shingles from Lowes or any other building supply store for around 20 bucks. At that price you don't have to worry about saving the planks. I share a bundle with my son down in Richmond. They're untreated and are advertised by Lowes as good for the BBQ. The key is soaking them well or they're just kindling. Maureen, that cider soaking sounds marvelous.

Maureen Lang

Great tips for the temperature how-to, Pat, much thanks. The indirect, lower heat makes it almost a salmon smoking process, I guess. Tasty.

Howie (aka Panaman) emailed to say he's been alternating cedar, alder, & maple because using a fancy-pants set of planks from Williams Sonoma that was part of an anniversary gift.

I'll be getting mine at Miners Hardware, probably- they've got cedar.


TTG & Maureen

I like the lumber yard shingle concept. I had the temperature at 350 with the lid closed.

Trent. Easy you put the coals on the sides and the plank in th emiddle. pl

Maureen Lang

Turns out hardware clerk agreed, TTG.
Thanks for the tip- siding shingles it will be.


TTG, by "soaking them well" do you mean overnight?

Pat, one of the benefits of gas grills: the temperature control.

Does anyone recommend a charcoal grill thermometer and a technique for keeping the temps low with the lid on?

Also, anyone want to hazard a ratio of bourbon-to-water for the soak?


in re ratio of bourbon - some. pl

The Twisted Genius


I soak them overnight. It might be overkill, but it's better than having them burst into flames over a charcoal fire. I don't use a thermometer, but I think I'll look for one. Just don't overdo the charcoal. Have a brush and a container of water handy if you're worried about the plank catching fire.


Planked salmon is the best and the springers are starting to run up the Columbia. This website has easy to follow directions for cooking cedar planked salmon.



If you can find Guava wood chips, try them because Adds the best flavor all of I have tried.

Anybody ever go the restaurant near Ft. Lewis where they would lock the Fish or Meat planks pyramid-style over an open fire?

William R. Cumming

Jose! I believe the Coast Tribes of Native Americans did the same!

Leo Scanlon

My uncle's recipe for planked Menhadden:
soak and oil the plank, season the fish appropriately, cook over indirect fire, throw away the fish and eat the plank....

Medicine Man

That picture taunts me. Such delicious looking fish.

William R. Cumming

Are there any Atlantic Salmon left?


that explains a lot, didn't soak the cedar plank and put it in direct flame. charred cedar. LOL

Mark Logan

Don't use sappy or resinous woods, like fir, pine, hemlock, or sugar maple. Pretty much anything else will do. Eastern red (aromatic) cedar might belong on that list, but they make shakes out of Western red cedar, so they should work fine.


Just bought cedar shingles which are soaking now for tomorrow night. As they are quite a bit thinner, should I use two?

The Twisted Genius


If it gives you peace of mind, use two with thick end on one under the thin edge of the other. Use indirect heat whether you use gas or charcoal. If the plank starts flaming, hit with a little water from a spray bottle or paintbrush (unused). Don't spray the fish. Good luck and good eating.


TTG, thanks so much. We cook with charcoal, not out of sectarian conviction, but because of the peer pressure of our transplanted Kansas City neighbors. I will snip the ends of the shingles and use indirect heat.

And, following your lead, I picked up a bundle from Lowes for $8.

Predicted weather of 64 degrees and 26% humidity for those keeping a log.

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