Cooking food on a hunka' wood is a common practice in First Nation and Native American cultures on both the East and West coasts of North America and provides moist, tender and flavorful results.
Last night the Big Guy coated a lovely piece of wild sockeye salmon with pesto, slapped it on a hunk of alder on the charcoal grill and voilà dinner was served. I know I made it sound really easy and believe me it isn't rocket science providing the plank of wood has been prepped properly. If it hasn't been you'll have a fire of gargantuan proportions and be heading off to Sonic for dinner when you could have been dining fine at home.
We're lucky enough to have been "regifted" with a good supply of alder, apple, cedar and maple all of which has been cut, planed, sanded and kiln dried. Soaked for a while in water then slapped on the barbecue, it imparts a nutty woodsy flavor to any food and thanks to inspiration and instructions from "Plank Cooking - The Essence of Natural Wood" by Scott and Tiffany Haugen, the Big Guy's got the method down pat.
We had our pesto topped fish along with assorted steamed vegetables (mini potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and pearl onions) in a creamy tarragon flavored sauce. It was a great combination, ready in about 40 minutes total prep and cooking time, and definitely company worthy. Note - for more instructions in the art of plank cooking, see link below.
Plank Grilled Pesto Topped Salmon (adapted from Plank Cooking)
1 – 1 pound salmon filet with skin on
1-1/2 cups loosely packed basil
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Place basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan in a blender or food processor and process until coarsely chopped. With motor running add olive oil and process until a paste forms. Season with salt and pepper.
Wash and dry fish leaving skin intact. Check for pin bones and remove as required. Season fish with salt and pepper and top with a liberal amount of pesto. Grill on prepared plank for 15 to 20 minutes. Note – may substitute cod, sea bass or halibut for the salmon.
Serves 2 to 3.
See - Plank Grilled Cod here