Plank Cooking

Step one is selecting the plank.:) Most *chefs* prefer alder or cedar, 
but other non-resinous hardwoods such as hickory, maple or oak also
work well. Some chefs are planking with oak staves from old wine
barrels, so that a lingering flavor of wine, usually red, also permeates
itself into the fish.

Avoid resinous woods such as pine; you don't want acrid sap seeping
into the food!!

Naturally, the plank should be clean and unvarnished. It should be at
least an inch thick and large enough to generously accommodate the
fish and its cooking juices. Store-bought cooking planks usually have
an indented cooking area or grooves to keep the juices from spilling
into the oven, and some have steel rods to stabilize the wood and
prevent cracking. Ordinary slabs of alder from a lumber mill are
inexpensive, but they generally have to be replaced after three or four
visits to the oven.

Don't worry about the wood igniting; 350 F isn't even hot enough to
char it. Cooking times will be longer than with a metal or ceramic
baking dish because wood doesn't conduct as much heat to the food.
Any fish suitable for grilling can be planked. Striped bass, trout, pike,
bluefish and even halibut are good examples. Sally McArthur,
executive chef at Anthony's Homeport Restaurants in the Seattle area,
suggests fillets that are at least half an inch thick. Sole would be too
thin and too delicate. The beauty of the planking technique is it's a
great way to cook *thick* fish. A wood plank helps moderate the
oven's temperature and cook the fish evenly. One other word for those
who prefers the sweetness of alder when planking salmon and halibut:
rub both fish and wood with olive oil to help mingle the flavors and
prevent sticking.

Not only does a wood plank add delicious flavor and aroma to the fish,
but it also doubles as an unusual and attractive serving platter. You
can carry the steaming fish to the table right on the plank. With
complements of simple boiled potatoes, caramelized onions and
maybe a few decorative sprigs of herbs, it blossoms as a springtime
feast for the eyes, nose and appetite.


Sources for Planks

Iron Works ~ Mesquite and Cedar Planks.

Lady Marion Seafoods Inc. (In Alaska) Family owned and operated.

Kitchen Kupboard ~ Gourmet Specialties

Totem Smokehouse ~ Cedar Baking Plank Set ~ set includes the
Chinook Cedar Baking Plank (tm), iron serving stand, cookbook,
spatula, and alder wood chips for smoking.