From Camp Cooking by Charlie Palmer
One great thing about plank cooking is that you get to burn the dishes afterward instead of arguing over whose turn it is to wash them. There are a few ways to go about this cooking, but all of them use some type of indirect heating method. Most planks are make of hickory or alder wood, which adds flavor during the cooking process. Soak your plank for a few hours before cooking on it so that it doesn’t burn right away and introduce soot and ashes into the food. You want to create a nice smolder to flavor the food with the smoke without overcooking it in the process. There is usually a smooth side and a rough side to the plank. The smooth side is the cooking side, but before placing anything on it, I like to give it an even char on the grill to impart as much flavor as possible. Fish cooks fairly quickly—especially the thinner pieces—and I like to get as much flavor out of this short cooking time as possible. You don’t want your plank to get just to the point of smoking well and have the fish already done.
• 1 ½ pounds salmon fillet
• Thinly sliced red onion, for garnish
• Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
• Lime wedges, for garnish
• ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
• ¼ cup water
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce
• 1 to 2 tablespoons chili garlic paste
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
• ½ stalk lemongrass, bruised with the back of a knife and chopped
1. In a bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients and mix well.
2. Score the presentation side of the fish in a crosshatch pattern about ¼ inch deep and 1 inch wide. Place the fish so that it fits comfortably in a sealable container (or cut to fit in large ziplock) and pour the marinade over, making sure that it also coats the underside of the fish. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 6 hours.
3. Place the fish, scored side up, on the pre-charred surface of the plank (see headnote) and place on a medium-temperature part of a covered grill. If using coals, push them toward the outside of the grilling area. If using a gas grill, turn one side up to medium
4. or medium-high and leave the other side off, cooking the fish on the off side. If you feel the fire is a little too hot, or you want a little extra wiggle room, place a piece of aluminum foil on the grilling surface before putting the plank down. The heat should still be sufficient to get the wood smoking.
5. Close the top of the grill and cook until the edges of the fish flake apart easily when gently pressed, 10 to 15 minutes. Every few minutes, pull up the lid just enough to check for flames, which you can extinguish with a small squeeze bottle of water.
6. Top the fish with a scattering of sliced red onions and chopped cilantro. Squeeze the limes over and serve right on the plank. Serves 4.