We grill up a lot of Cedar planked salmon around here, but today we want to share our technique about getting the same kind of results from cooking with planks in the oven. Whether you’re an apartment-dweller without an outdoor space or are just trying to stay out of bad weather, this is a great way to get the fresh wood flavor of Cedar in your own kitchen.
There are some factors that should be considered when oven planking to help you get maximum flavor out of your grilling plank.
Smoke Favor vs. Fresh Wood Flavor
There is a distinction between smoke flavor and fresh wood flavor.
Smoke flavor is achieved by food being exposed to the particles produced by the burning of wood, like you would get when using smoking chips.
Fresh wood flavor, which is the characteristic of plank cooking, is achieved via moisture being heated, rising out of the plank and pulling the wood flavors with it.
To get moisture into the plank in the first place, you need to soak the plank in warm water for 15 minutes. Warm water is more effective than cold because it allows for a quicker absorption rate. More moisture absorbed = more fresh wood flavor. Learn about the scientific reason you only need to soak your plank for 15 minutes.
Cooking Salmon on a Cedar Plank in the Oven
When cooking in the oven there is no open flame, so the plank will not produce smoke. If you regularly have smoke and flames in your oven, you are doing something wrong!
Another thing that I have learned when cooking salmon on a plank is that there seems to be an ideal temperature range.
Between 400°F – 450°F provides the perfect amount of heat. Less than 400°F does not heat the moisture quick enough and the level of Cedar flavor that makes it into the food is considerably less. More than 450°F just vaporizes the moisture which reduces the Cedar flavor, and the fish cooks so quickly it does not have enough time to absorb the wood flavor.
This is fairly specific information that is not meant to complicate the way you cook, but to help you achieve the best results you can. After all, how disappointing would it be to cook salmon on a Cedar plank and not be able to taste the Cedar? What would be the point? We don’t all have a grill, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy some of the taste benefits of the grill in our kitchen.
Matt worked his first kitchen job in the country of Malta at the age of 15. He has worked as a restaurant Chef in Arizona, Maine, Spain, the UK, Oregon and finally North Idaho. Now the Executive Chef at Wildwood Grilling, he thoroughly enjoys his day job.