Garam Masala Cedar Plank Salmon

SeaGrub: an occasional series of guest posts from bloggers we admire, celebrating seafood cookery. It’s a wild world underwater, teeming with edible life. Here’s how to cook ‘em up. This week’s post is from Katie Webster from

I wonder if Henry Ford was thinking about grilled salmon when he said, “failure is the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” I wonder this because grilling salmon, though tempting, too often results in a less-than-desirable outcome. Some may call it failure even.

You can’t blame us for trying. I know I have to grill salmon many a time.  Who doesn’t love an excuse to get out of the kitchen to make dinner? You get to be out in the great outdoors, enjoy the evening sunshine, drink a Corona… It’s romantic in an almost mythical way.

But in reality, more often that not, I end up frustrated when the fish sticks to the grill. At first it seems to be going fine, and then it comes time to flip the fish over. Half the time, the fish fiercely clings to the grill grates and then shreds off, leaving half of your dinner behind. Even worse, if you’re like me, you bought the more sustainable option, Alaskan salmon. That means you paid a pretty penny for that soon-to-be charred-onto-the-grill-grate fish. It is enough to make a cook a little gun shy about trying that again.

That’s why I love cooking salmon on a cedar plank. The fish never sticks, and it still gets a nice smoky flavor from the grill. Plus it gets a boost of cedar smokiness from the plank itself. I like that because I am kind of a flavor hound. Even though the ingredients here are simple: fish, spice and sugar.  The technique of grilling on the plank makes it even more flavorful. Plus the dishes, or lack there of, are a snap.

Garam Masala Cedar Plank Salmon (from

Active time: 25 minutes. Total time: 2 hours 25 minutes.

1 food-grade cedar plank, see note*
4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds boneless salmon filet, preferably wild sockeye
¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1.     Soak cedar plank in a large rimmed baking sheet of water 2 to 3 hours, turning once or twice, or according to package instructions. Remove plank from the water and pat dry with a towel.
2.     Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill plank on one side to char slightly, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove to a baking sheet, charred side-up. Plank will be hot. Stir sugar and garam masala together in a small dish. Brush about half of the olive oil over the charred side of the plank. Place the salmon skin-side-down on the plank. Pull pinbones from the salmon with needle-nose-pliers if necessary. Brush the remaining oil over the fish. Sprinkle with salt. Pat the brown sugar mixture over the fish.
3.     Reduce heat to medium and carefully transfer the plank and salmon to the grill. Cover the grill, and cook until the fish is almost opaque all the way through and the sugar mixture is melted and caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes for medium well.

Note* Available at most hardware stores, or online


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