Perfectly Grilled Salmon on Cedar
Do you like the sound of moist, smoke-flavored salmon off the grill? I’ve been told (by someone who’s eaten fish all their life) that my grilled salmon is the best fish they’ve ever had. If you follow my instructions, your family and friends will hail you as the salmon king!
Disclaimer: there’s a huge drawback to this. Ready? Once you learn how to grill salmon the right way, you’ll never be happy with restaurant salmon again. There, I warned you.
What You Need to Grill Salmon on a Cedar Plank
Pictured below are the items you’ll need to create savory, grilled salmon. It’s an uncomplicated list that you can normally get from any Whole Foods and your own private essential oils collection!
Fresh salmon – For moist, flavorful grilled salmon you need the thickest filets possible! And avoid low cost, farm raised salmon as they’re typically fed bad ingredients – even coloring to make their meat pink. Why isn’t it pink naturally? Because they’re not eating the krill and shrimp wild salmon eat. *Note: some farm raised salmon (sourced from places like Norway and Scotland) is still okay as they’re kept in a sectioned off river and/or fed healthy food.
Cedar Plank – If you’re like me, the thought of using an entire plank of cedar for one grilling sounds a little strange, but you get used to it. I recommend organic cedar planks if you’re wanting to keep it healthy. I get my organic grilling here most of the time: http://www.mainegrillingwoods.com/
Wood Chips – You can stick to just a cedar plank, but mark my words: you’ll have much better salmon if you also use wood chips and a smoker box in your grill. Again, go to the Maine Grilling site above and purchase their White Cedar grilling chips. And get an inexpensive smoker box from Amazon: cast iron smoker box*Note – you’ll be addicted to your smoker box, because it can be used for everything from burgers to steaks to chicken. Just sample some of the other wood chip options from Main Grilling. You’ll never look back – my personal guarantee.
Olive Oil – Self explanatory.
Black Pepper – I love coarse, fresh ground pepper. Have a Trader Joes nearby? Their grinders are cheap and awesome.
Oranges – You need one orange per salmon filet.
Lemon Oil & Black Pepper Oil – Optional. Any citrus you prefer. If you have black pepper, you’ll use that too. If you care about quality, the Young Living Vitality Oils can’t be beat. If you have no oils, you’re totally fine. I just recently tried oils in the mix. Have done it many times without.
Water Bottle – any normal spray bottle filled with water. This is a must.
It’s Time to Grill!
We’ve spent enough time prepping. It’s time to grill your salmon.
1) Soak the wood planks and chips.
You’ll need to soak your cedar planks in water for a minimum of 2 hours. The wood chips, for 30 minutes. *Tip: if the wood planks you ordered are too long for your kitchen sink or a baking pan, throw them in the tub. I set something heavy on top of them to make sure the wood is submerged and really absorbing water.
2) Place Orange Slices on the Cedar Plank
Once the wood has soaked for 2 hours, you’re ready to get your salmon cooking on that cedar! What are the oranges for? To protect your fish from drying out during grilling. One orange should cover a plank as shown below. Aim for around 1/3 inch thick slices.
3) Coat Salmon with Olive Oil/Essential Oil Combo
As mentioned above, grab a citrus oil and black pepper oil. If you don’t have them, then just use olive oil for this step. Coat your salmon filet with olive oil. I used about 10-15 drops of black pepper and a few drops of citrus for mine. Go light when in doubt. *Note: do not use salt on your filet. Salt will dry out the meat.
4) Crack That Pepper
I used both black pepper oil mixed in my olive oil AND actual cracked pepper. There’s no wrong decision here. Also, I typically squeeze any remaining orange juice onto the filet. *Note: the filet pictured below is as thin as you’ll want to go – I really think it’s too thin. As mentioned above, thicker is better. Juicier. Tastier.
5) Wood Chips in the Grill
Take those soaked wood chips and fill up your grill box. Don’t have one? There’s a link above to get one from Amazon for about eight bucks.
6) Heat the Grill to 400 Degrees
This isn’t an exact. Just get it to at least 400 or even 500 degrees. You want the wood chips in the smoker box to heat up and begin smoking. This could take 15 minutes. You need them to be smoking to maximize your flavor.
7) Grill That Salmon!
Once the wood starts smoking in your grill, back the heat down to around 275-300 degrees. Put the salmon in and close her up. Set your timer for 5 minutes, and then grab the spray bottle of water mentioned above, and spray the edges of the wood with a stream (not a wide mist). Keep checking your salmon every few minutes to make sure the wood isn’t burning too much. This will depend on your grill, and the proximity of the flame to the grates. *Note: don’t worry if it catches fire. Just douse it down and keep going!
Grill time is going to depend on your grill, the weather and the thickness of your salmon filet. You’ll need at least 20-25 minutes at 300 degrees for a one inch thick filet. Simply test your salmon with a fork – you’ll see if the meat is still raw. It’s okay to leave salmon a little rare. In fact, error on the side of rare. Do not over cook the filet or you’ll cry bitter tears. Remember, the meat continues to cook when removed from the heat.
8) Luscious Grilled Salmon
Congratulations!!! If you followed my instructions, you’re now a pro. I hope you and your family/friends enjoy many scrumptious meals. *Note: I use tongs and a cutting board to move salmon and cedar together from the grill. Just remember that the bottom of the cedar will be really hot – if not burning embers.
*Note: see the white on the filet above? That’s fat that will rise from the filet, but it depends on the fish. It’s okay if you see it. Notice the area I tested with the fork – it’s still juicy. NICE! If you followed these instructions, let’s hear it in the comments below!