Quintessentially West Coast, planking pays homage to the First Nations peoples of this region, whose communities have been cooking salmon on wood planks since long before Europeans arrived. It’s an ingenious way to impart earthy, smoky and even floral notes to the dish, depending on the type of wood you use. Although cedar is a classic choice, alder and oak work beautifully with the salmon, too. You can find grilling planks at gourmet retailers, or go the DIY route with untreated wood from the hardware store. Look for 1-inch-thick and 8-inch-wide pieces, and have them cut 8 to 12 inches long. Just be sure to give them a good sanding first to remove splinters, and allow time to soak them before using. For this recipe, you’ll need two planks: one for the fish and one for the nectarines.
1.5 lbs salmon fillet skin-on
1 tbps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 dash Flaky Sea Salt
1 dash black peper
4 sprigs thyme leaves only, plus extra for garnish
4 nectarines or apricots halved
2 tbsp Honey
4 oz fresh whole milk ricotta
1 Garden salad to serve
Soak the cedar plank in water for at least 30 minutes and up to a day before using.
Preheat the grill to medium (about 350°f).
Use paper towels to pat the fish dry.
Rub all over with olive oil, and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the thyme leaves over the salmon (leaving some for the nectarines and for the garnish), and press to adhere.
Put the plank on the grill directly over the flames. Cover the grill and allow the plank to heat until starting to just smoke, about 2 minutes. Turn and repeat on the other side.
Add the fish skin side down to the plank.
Add the nectarines cut side up.
Drizzle the nectarines with honey, sprinkle with most of the remaining thyme leaves, and a little salt.
Cover the grill and cook for 7 to 12 minutes or until fish is almost opaque all the way through and flakes easily and the nectarines are caramelized and tender. (If the plank gets too hot and ignites, spritz it with water from a spray bottle.)
Alternatively, you can grill the salmon directly on an oiled grill grate for 3 to 4 minutes per side, and roast the nectarines in a baking dish in a 400°f oven for 12 minutes.
To serve, add a couple tablespoons of ricotta over each piece of fish, and sprinkle with the almonds. Garnish with thyme. Serve with a garden salad.
As featured in Western Living.
Photo Credit: Kevin Clark Studios