On one of the many visits to Wholefoods during my holiday in Washington DC earlier this summer I was struck by the number of permutations of fish on a plank ready to be BBQed there were for sale at the fish counter, there seemed enough choice to have a different one several times a week for the whole summer.
Of course back home in the UK there is not such a BBQ or grilling culture – you simply cannot rely on the weather for much of the summer and I have never seen grilling planks for sale. When we borrowed Ed’s sister’s house in July, we had two glorious weeks of al fresco living, and BBQed most evenings.
The prevalence of easy to clean, fast to heat and easy to light, gas BBQs means that you do lose some of that lovely woody, smoky taste you get from cooking on charcoal and much of what you BBQ needs just a little bit extra to make it really special.
I’d been given some Canadian red cedar BC grilling planks by the Canadian Tourism Commission and was keen to try them out when we had access to the BBQ. I loosely adapted one of the recipes that came with them, and grilled hake in a sweet maple soy sauce with added lemon, garlic and ginger. The soaked plank slowly chars and releases smoke, the marinated fish was tender, juicy and delicious. An experiment well worth repeating. At the suggestion of our friend Monica we grilled some fennel & patty pan squashes to accompany it. If you can get hold of some grilling planks then I really recommend this method of cooking on the BBQ.
Recipe: Grilled Maple Hake on a Cedar Wood Plank
- 2 tbs maple syrup
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- juice half a lemon
- 1 clove garlic – minced
- 1/2 cm ginger root finely grated
- Place the fish in a gratin dish. Mix all the marinade ingredients together and pour over the fish. Cover and leave to infuse in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight. (I often freeze both fish and meat in a marinade.)
- Soak the plank in water for at least 2 hours, weighing it down so it is submerged. Depending how smoky you would like your fish to be allow the plank to air dry for up to 30 minutes before cooking.
- Place the plank on one side the heated BBQ and turn the burner under it down. Place the fish on the plank and drizzle with a few spoons of marinade. Close the lid of the BBQ – you want to trap all the smoke.
- Keep an eye on it, you want the plank to gently smoulder under the fish, not burn. If needed douse any flames with a spray bottle and turn the burner right down.
- Cooking time will depend on temperature, wetness of plank and thickness of the fish – ours took about 25 minutes.
- Carefully remove the plank and serve the fish.
- Depending how charred it is you should get another use out of the plank.