Happy Father's Day!
I always love getting to work with my dad on DIY projects. Usually he's behind the scenes helping me with design, but today we're bringing him on-camera for a post in honor of Father's Day.
It’s hard to do anything with Dunn DIY without thinking about my dad. It’s because of him, and his dad, and his dad, that I’m here, in this world, in this job. And it’s only because of him I know what I’m doing.
I started working at the Express Checkout at Dunn Lumber when I had two other part-time jobs. I needed something to fill the other days in my week. I didn’t plan on staying long. But once I was in, I got hooked. Why? Because of my dad. It was because of the legacy he had built. The community he had created within the company. It was all the people who told me stories of interactions with him that had a lasting impact on them.
And I realized something. I had grown up hearing so much about Dunn Lumber, our customer service, our promise. But it had never hit me before: that was my dad. Those were his values, his passion for customer service, quality, and building trust. Realizing that, I couldn’t leave. I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to do it with him.
May dad is the man I look up to, and the kind of person I want to grow up to be. I want to have people say about me half the wonderful things that have been said about him. My dad is my inspiration. And always, he’s my biggest fan.
How to Make Cedar Plank Salmon
Now, let's get talking about today's tutorial! We're going to be grilling salmon on a cedar plank. This is a technique many people love because of its ease and flavor, not to mention the beautiful presentation. The method we use in today's post is a slow cooking process using indirect heat. The cedar flavor is fairly subtle, but the salmon is incredibly rich and moist.
Some people may be concerned about using cedar from a lumber yard. If you don't feel comfortable with buying a cedar board at the lumber yard, Woodway is a company we work with that sells a cedar plank specifically for grilling. Check it out here!
Step 1: Pick Your Cedar Plank
Start by choosing the perfectly sized plank. The ideal cedar plank should match the size of your fillet almost exactly. If there is too much exposed wood, it is more likely to catch fire and char your salmon. If you're a regular DIYer, you may have some cedar boards lying around. If you have something that fits, save the cost of a new board and use it! Stick to cedar with a nominal thickness of one inch (1" x 6", 1" x 8", etc.) We used a 12" length of 1" x 10" we already had on-hand.
Step 2: Soak Your Cedar Plank Overnight
Next, it's time to soak the cedar plank. Soaking the plank reduces the risk of the plank catching fire. We used another piece of wood and a heavy object to hold the cedar plank in place, as it kept floating to the top of the bucket. The cedar will turn the water orangish-brown, but don't worry: The color is just some of the natural tannins in the wood releasing in the water.
Cedar planks can be soaked ahead of time and then frozen while wet. Don't worry about thawing them before grilling.
Step 3: Prep the Salmon on the Cedar Plank
After your board is sufficiently soaked (1 hour to overnight), remove it from the water and place your fillet of salmon on the plank.
Note: We used a skinless fillet. It turned out beautifully and we didn't have any problems with it sticking to the wood. If you have a skin-on fillet, cedar cooking is a great option because the skin adheres to the wood and the fillet lifts right off of it.
Step 4: Make the Sauce
We made a simple sauce from butter and white wine, which wouldn't overpower the salmon and cedar flavors. Melt a quarter cup of butter in a small bowl and add a splash of your favorite white wine. Then, mix them together.
Step 5: Pre-heat the Grill
Before you start cooking, pre-heat your grill to medium-high heat. We'll cook the salmon using indirect heat.
Indirect heat means no flames will come in contact with the cedar. If you're using an gas grill, only light some of the burners. We lit the outside burners of our grill and placed our salmon in the middle.
Step 6: Baste the Salmon
Now, place your salmon and cedar plank on the grill. Use a brush to baste the salmon with the butter mixture, lower the grill lid, and let the salmon cook. Check on it periodically (we checked every seven minutes over the course of half an hour). When you're about halfway done, baste again with the butter and wine.
Step 7: Cook the Salmon
You'll want to keep a close eye on your salmon so it doesn't catch fire or dry out. Keep a spray bottle of water on hand to deal with any fires. Depending on the size of your salmon, you'll most likely need to cook it for 20-30 minutes.
Knowing When Salmon Is Thoroughly Cooked
Use a fork to lift the grain and check the meat is inside. Because this is really a pretty slow, gentle way to cook salmon, the outside may not look as done as the middle is. If you're not sure about appearance, check the temperature! The FDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 8: Finish by Broiling
Once cooked, broil the top of the fillet to create a nice, crispy finish. You can do this in your grill if it's equipped with the right features, or you can transfer the cedar plank to a cooking sheet and throw it in the oven under the broiler. Brush on another coat of butter before broiling. Broil for just a few minutes, keeping an eye on it, and rotating the salmon if necessary.
Step 9: Enjoy!
Remove from the grill and transfer to a baking sheet. Serve with salt to taste.
Alternative Grilling Option
For stronger cedar notes, the salmon needs to be grilled at a higher temperature. Turn the grill on high and wait for the bottom of the plank to char. This will help bring out the flavor. Wait until the plank catches on fire. Spray it with water and turn down the grill to low, then leave on low for the duration of the grilling.