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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the Week: The Fire Chef's BBQ Salmon on a Plank

Jul 8, 2011

The Fire Chef’s BBQ Salmon on a Plank

Makes 4–6 servings

The late David Veljacic was the father of barbecue in Canada, founding the Canadian National Barbecue Championship in New Westminster back in 1988. David was a firefighter, hence his nickname, “The Fire Chef.” He was diagnosed with cancer several years before he succumbed to it in 2001, and while on medical leave he wrote cookbooks and taught barbecue and grilling to a generation of backyard cooks. This is his most famous recipe, adapted for the plank. 

For the marinade:

1/3 cup | 75 mL finely chopped parsley

3 Tbsp | 45 mL oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1 Tbsp | 15 mL oil from the sun-dried tomatoes

1/3 cup | 75 mL extra virgin olive oil

For the salmon:

1 cedar, alder or hickory plank, soaked overnight

or at least 1 hour

one 21/2 lb | 1.2 kg boned salmon fillet,

skin on

1 tsp | 5 mL kosher salt

1 head roasted garlic (see recipe below), cloves squeezed out of their skins

Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the fillet in a nonreactive dish (a lasagna pan would do). Pour the marinade over the fillet. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.

Score the salmon with 2 long slits along the length of the fillet. Don’t cut all the way through the fish. Mash the salt together with the roasted garlic and spread the mixture over the fillet and into the slits. Re-coat the fillet with the marinade after you’ve spread the garlic paste over it.

Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Place the salmon on the plank and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook it for 15–20 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 135°F | 57°C. Remove the plank and the salmon from the grill and serve it.

Roasted Garlic

Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.