Plank-roasting is an ancient method of cooking among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest. For important feasts known as potlatches, whole salmon fillets were suspended on cedar planks and placed around a fire to cook.
Plank-roasting in your home oven is simple and infuses the salmon with a complex woody flavor, similar to the way oak barrels add flavor to wine. At your local lumberyard or home center, select a piece of 1-by-8-inch or 1-by-6-inch cedar plank just long enough to fit inside your oven. (The salmon fillets will be laid out in a row on this board.) About 20 inches long should work, but measure your oven to be sure. Pine or fir can be substituted, with a little less aromatic flavor; it’s better to spend a few dollars more for the real thing. Make sure that the wood has not been primed or treated with any chemicals.
At Arrows we often use fresh herbs or dry seasonings to add another level of flavor to the plank-roasted fish. Rosemary, with its robust character, is a perfect match for salmon.—Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier
For the rosemary-mustard vinaigrette
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
For the plank-roasted salmon
1 cedar board large enough to hold 6 salmon fillets (see above)
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 skinless salmon fillets, 6 to 7 ounces each
6 rosemary sprigs
Freshly ground black pepper
Make the rosemary-mustard vinaigrette
1. In a medium bowl mix together the Worcestershire, vinegar, soy sauce, mustard sugar, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. The vinaigrette will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Prepare the plank-roasted salmon
1. Brush one side of the board with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and let it sit overnight.
2. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a large rimmed baking sheet underneath the center rack to catch the salmon drippings.
3. Lay the salmon fillets skinned side down on the plank. Tuck a sprig of rosemary under each fillet. Lightly brush the salmon with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Place the board in the oven for 10 minutes. To make sure the fish is cooked properly, lightly squeeze the fillet with your finger; it should feel firm and just start to give way. Carefully remove the board from the oven. With a metal spatula, transfer the salmon fillets to warm plates.
5. Whisk the vinaigrette briefly to recombine and spoon some of it over each fillet. Serve at once.
Recipe © 2003 Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier.All rights reserved.