Every year, I like to challenge myself to try new recipes or techniques for outdoor cooking. This year, recipes that use cedar planks or salt blocks are popping up everywhere.
I remember the cedar plank phase the last time it came around (and for some, I am sure, it never left), but I lived in an apartment at the time without access to an outdoor grill, so I never got a chance to give it a try. The same goes for salt blocks. I have experienced them as serving platters, but haven’t tried cooking on them before.
We don’t have any recipes in our landolakes.com collection that use these special pieces of equipment, so I thought I would try adapting two grilled fish recipes to use the new techniques. First up: Salmon Fillets with Orange Basil Butter on a cedar plank.
Cedar planks are pretty easy to come by – check your local hardware or home improvement store, and chances are you will find what you are looking for. It’s important to thoroughly soak the plank before using it because, well, cedar is wood and it is going over fire. I submerged mine in water for about two hours. I placed a heavy measuring cup on top to make sure it stayed under water.
After that, I just followed the recipe as written, but, instead of placing the fish directly on the grill grates, I placed it on the plank and closed the lid. The nice thing about cooking on a plank is that there is no need to flip the fish – just keep the lid closed until it is done. The cedar adds a delicate, smoky flavor that is absolutely delicious. As an added bonus, the cedar plank can be used as a serving dish – no extra dishes to wash!
Finding a salt block or plate might take a little more effort than a cedar plank, but they are available to order online and can be found at most cooking stores. Cooking or serving food on a salt block subtly seasons your food with mineral salt flavor. When grilling on a salt block, it is important to follow the instructions to gently heat the block to prevent cracking.
For the salt block, I used the Halibut with Wasabi Butter recipe. As with the salmon, I followed the instructions in the recipe with one change. I reduced the amount of soy sauce to 1 tablespoon so that it wouldn’t be too salty. Then, instead of placing the fish on the grill, I put it on the salt block. The salt block heats up enough to actually sear the fish, and I flipped it about halfway through the cooking process. This was a really fun cooking technique, and I can’t wait to try it out with other types of food.
Have you tried either of these cooking techniques? Let us know what you thought of your experience in the comments below.