Because planks smoke and steam as they heat up, they improve grilled dishes by giving them a smoky flavour while still retaining moisture. Even better, planking shortens cleanup time dramatically by eliminating messy grates and stuck-on food. Fish is often served on a plank, but chicken with the skin on does well, too.
This is one of those rare dishes that tastes just as good cold as it does hot. If you decide to serve it cold, cook the fish for 3 minutes less because it continues cooking as it cools.
Ready time: 90 minutes
The last beverage you’re likely to find at a North American barbecue is my first choice for the salmon: sake. Specifically, premium cold-serve sake, such as Ginjo, not the cheap stuff designed to be served warm. Japan’s glorious rice brew is a little bit oily – the perfect texture to match the fish. It’s also refreshing and subtly spicy, yet neutral enough not to wage battle with the aromatic marinade. Alternative: Austrian gruner veltliner, a white variety with the acidity to dance with the lively flavours. –Beppi Crosariol
2-lb salmon fillet, skin on
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice wine
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp wasabi paste
2 tsp chopped ginger
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp pickled ginger, chopped
Soak a plank in water for one hour. Place salmon in a dish. Combine mirin, rice wine, soy sauce, wasabi paste, ginger and sugar. Pour over salmon and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
Preheat grill to high. Place plank on hot grill and let smoke for three to four minutes. Turn over before placing fish on plank.
Remove salmon from marinade, reserving marinade, and season fish with salt and pepper. Place salmon on prepared plank, skin side down, and grill for 15 to 20 minutes or until white juices begin to appear. The salmon should be slightly pink in the centre.
Place reserved marinade in a skillet and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced by half. Stir into mayonnaise along with pickled ginger.