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Bob Hart’s Cedar Planked Salmon

Article image for Bob Hart’s Cedar Planked Salmon



There is a case for suggesting that cedar planked salmon – a method for cooking skinned, centre fillets of fresh salmon to absolute perfection – is just about the most ingenious barbecue recipe of them all. It certainly gets my vote.


The approach is simple enough: start with slim, centre fillets of fresh salmon – one per person. Skin them, or have your fishmonger do this for you. Buy a cedar plank from your barbecue shop and soak it in water for at least an hour. Oil and season the salmon fillets, position them, crossways, on the plank and place the plank in the centre of any barbecue grill. In a multi-burner grill, turn the burner under the plank to low and the outer burners to high. In a Weber Q, turn the centre burner to low if it has one (the Q 300 series only) and the rest to 3/4. Cook for about 15 minutes in total, placing a disc of dill compound butter on top of each piece of salmon for the last 5 minutes of the process. And that’s about it. Perfection and, I confidently predict, considerable applause.


This is a dish I have been cooking for many years. And one aspect of my version – arrived at by good luck as much as anything – will set it apart from all other versions. And that’s my dill compound butter – an absolute game-changer, which is made as follows:


Bring 125g of unsalted butter to room temperature and mash it with 1tbs Dijon mustard, 2-3 cloves minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon and 2tbs of chopped, fresh dill fronds. The easy way to do this is in a food processor, but if you prefer to make it by hand, it can easily be done. Tip the blended components on to a large square of plastic wrap and twist into a sausage, 4-5cm in diameter, shaping and tying off the ends. Chill to firm it up for about an hour, and then replace the plastic with foil which will keep better. Label it and return it to the freezer until it’s time to finish the salmon.


When that moment arrives, remove the cylinder from the freezer and slice .5cm discs of the frozen compound butter from the cylinder – one for each salmon fillet you plan to cook. Then, simply lift the barbecue lid and place a disc of the butter in the centre of each almost cooked salmon fillet and drop the lid.

In 5 minutes, carefully lift the plank off the grill, transfer each fillet to a serving plate and, well, serve!


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Peter 'Grubby' Stubbs