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Crusted with brown sugar and spices then grilled on a wine soaked cedar plank, this garam masala cedar plank salmon is smoky sweet and sure to please.
When it comes to summer I think about sunshine, warm weather, pool parties, and backyard BBQs! Whether at home or at the local park, it’s time to fire up the grill and move the cooking outdoors.
No BBQ is complete without fantastic food and delicious drinks. One of my most favorite recipes for the grill is this garam masala cedar plank salmon. I’ve tweaked the recipe over the years, but the preparation is simple, the flavors are complex, and it involves wine!
You will have to plan ahead with soaking the cedar plank, but it only needs 30 minutes at a minimum. The built in flexibility means you can prep this salmon in advance and enjoy more time with your friends and family and less time in the kitchen.
First things first, you need a cedar plank. I usually find mine in the meat department but I’ve also found them on display where you can purchase grills and grill accessories. These planks come in super handy for creating indirect heat to prevent delicate foods from charring, while infusing the food with subtle smoky flavors.
The planks must be soaked prior to use. Water, cooking stocks, juices, beer, and wine are all good options for imparting flavors into your food, but for this recipe we are using Black Box pinot noir. If you know me well, you know that my first rule of cooking with wine is that you never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t want to drink.
Black Box wines not only come up to my standards for wine drinking, but they have won over 50 Gold Medals for quality. They have also been raked by Wine Enthusiast as a Best Buy 29 times with the 2013 Pinot Noir receiving an 85 point rating. (The 2014 that I’m currently using for this recipe has not yet received a rating.)
The wine comes in a 3 liter box which allows you to easily carry the equivalent of 4 – 750ml bottles with you. Just think: how easy it would be if you didn’t have to lug breakable glass bottles to the next tailgate, potluck, or party in the park? Just don’t break any laws by drinking where you shouldn’t and remember to recycle the box and bag when it’s empty.
The wine inside smells and tastes like a $10 – $12 bottle, which gives you about a 40% savings over purchasing by the bottle allowing you to enjoy more fun while spending less money. Additionally, the wine isn’t exposed to air as you pour so it maintains its fresh flavor for up to 6 weeks giving you plenty of time to enjoy it.
For this garam masala cedar plank salmon we are going to use a combination of 1 part Black Box pinot noir to 2 parts water. Black Box’s Pinot Noir has notes of cherry, strawberry, oak and smoke all of which get soaked up into the cedar plank, turned into smoke on the grill, and absorbed by the salmon. My planks are the right size to soak in a 9″ x 13″ pan. I needed 1 1/4 cup of pinot noir and 2 1/2 cups of water to fully cover the planks. Adjust the liquid amounts as necessary.
You may need a weight to keep the planks submerged. I like to use the measuring cup filled with water, as I was going to have to wash it out anyway. Let the planks soak for anywhere from 30 minutes up to 4 hours.
Once the planks are soaking prepare the salmon. Place the salmon skin side down on a cutting board. Skin-on salmon is best because if it does happen to stick to the plank, you can easily remove the salmon and leave the stuck on skin behind. Check for any bones and gently pull them out.
In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, garam masala, ginger, salt, and pepper. Garam masala is an Indian spice blend that can typically be found in the spice department. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil on the salmon and rub to evenly coat. Add a thick layer of the spice mixture on top.
If you are using less than 1 lb of salmon: you can reduce the spice recipe, you can save any leftover spice mixture in an airtight container at room temperature, or you can layer it on twice as thick.
Place the salmon, uncovered, back into the fridge and let it rest. The oil and liquids from the salmon will combine with the brown sugar to make a crust. The salmon needs to sit at least 20 minutes with the spice blend on top. You can let it rest up to 4 hours or so, depending on your needs. I like to prep the salmon in advance when I’m having a BBQ, knowing I can quickly pull it out and get it on the grill when we it’s time to eat.
Heat the grill to medium – about 350 degrees. Remove the plank from the soaking liquid, pat it dry, and rub down the top side with 1 – 2 tsp of olive oil. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the top side. When the grill is ready, place the whole plank on the grill, cover, and let cook. It will take between 12 – 15 minutes for the internal temperature of the salmon to reach 130 degrees. Remove the salmon from the grill and allow to rest on the plank for 5 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise a bit, leaving you with fish cooked medium to medium rare.
For more information about Black Box wines and for more great entertaining ideas, visit the Simple Entertaining Social Hub.
Don’t forget to PIN this Garam Masala Cedar Plank Salmon recipe for later!
Garam Masala Cedar Plank Salmon
Garam Masala Cedar Plank Salmon
To Soak the Planks:
- pan large enough to hold the planks
- 2 parts water aprox: 2 1/2 cups
- 1 part wine aprox: 1 1/4 cups
For the Salmon:
- 1 - 1 lb salmon fillet skin on
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 TBSP brown sugar
- 1 TBSP garam masala
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
To oil the plank once soaked:
- 1 - 2 tsp olive oil
- Soak the cedar plank in 1 part pinot noir and 2 parts water. Estimate about 1 1/4 cup of pinot noir to 2 1/2 cups of water adjusting so that the planks are fully submerged. Weight planks down with a glass if needed and allow to soak a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Place the salmon skin side down on a cutting board. Check for any bones and gently remove.
- In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, garam masala, ginger, salt, and pepper.
- Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil on the salmon and rub to evenly coat. Sprinkle on a thick layer of the spice mixture.
- Place the salmon, uncovered, back into the fridge and let it rest at least 20 minutes or up to 4 hours.
- Heat the grill to medium - about 350 degrees.
- Remove the plank from the soaking liquid, pat it dry, and rub down the top side with 1 - 2 tsp of olive oil.
- Place the salmon, skin side down, on the top side.
- When the grill is ready, place the whole plank on the grill, cover, and let cook for 12 - 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the salmon should reach 130 degrees.
- Remove the salmon from the grill and allow to rest on the plank for 5 minutes.
- To serve, slice the salmon fillet into 4 portions, approximately 4 ounces each.
- Serve with a glass of Black Box pinot noir.