Cedar Planked Salmon – The Cider Decider.

Cedar Plank Salmon (1 of 1)-4I get conflicted. Various people tell me that I should be earning a decent few quid from the blog. The reality is that is not possible. I write what I like, post to my own schedule and if something gets up my nose, I am happy to share my spleen contents with the world. If one is writing for commercial gain, the spleen venting, nose contents descriptions and haphazard scheduling are all no-nos.

So what do I do when a small producer of lovely Irish cider pops a couple of bottles in the front porch? If I write about it, am I entering a ‘commercial arrangement’? If I am, we will go hungry because once the couple of bottle of cider are gone, they’re gone. If I’m not, I should blank out the labels and not give any cred to the gifter? These are the conundrums that occupy a small corner of my mind. Once I have thought things through, my decision is pretty straightforward. Irish small producers need all the support they can get. So, I thought I would try combining the lovely Dan Kelly’s Cider with some organic Irish salmon. I had never cooked Cedar Planked Salmon and I thought I would give it a go combining the smokey cedar with some nice cider flavour. Hence my recipe for Cider Cedar Planked Salmon. The ingredients are very straightforward.

  • 1 food grade cedar plank
  • 1 half side of salmon (organic, I can’t get wild at present)
  • 2 bottles of Dan Kelly’s Cider (or another quality Irish cider)
  • A handful of fresh sage leaves
  • Salt and pepper to season
    The ingredients apart from the board. Though, one doesn't eat the board anyway.

    The ingredients apart from the board. Though, one doesn’t eat the board anyway.

The first thing to do is to soak the board in cider overnight. I did this by putting it in a bag and sealing it. The cider to plank ratio is kept to a minimum this way.

"What a waste of lovely cider." I hear you shout. Trust me, it's worth it.

“What a waste of lovely cider.” I hear you shout. Trust me, it’s worth it.

All that remains to be done is to season the salmon, place it on the cedar plank and then dress with the sage and lemon. Place the plank on a low barbecue. This is easier with gas than I imagine it would be with coals or charcoal.

The salmon starts to take on the lovely cedar and cider flavours straight away.

The salmon starts to take on the lovely cedar and cider flavours straight away.

Close the barbecue lid and let the salmon smoke away for 15 minutes. The salmon should end up looking something like this.Cedar Plank Salmon (1 of 1)-3Serve the salmon with your choice of vegetables or salad.

Cooked to perfection! The cider / cedar aromas drove us to distraction.

Cooked to perfection! The cider / cedar aromas drove us to distraction.

We went for some nice new baby potatoes and spinach. All washed down with the last remaining bottle of Dan Kelly’s. It’s a good thing that they have my address…..

The cider was lovely with this. Then again, why would it be otherwise?

The cider was lovely with this. Then again, why would it be otherwise?

If you find yourself in a shop that sells food grade cedar planks, buy a couple (they are for half nothing) and give this recipe a go. The cider soaked cedar brings some amazing flavours to the party. These work really well with the sage. It all combines to make an extraordinarily tasty meal. The blog may never pay its way around here but, gifts like this lovely cider make it all worthwhile.

 

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  • what sous vide machine do you reccomend.

    Love your recipes.

    regards

    Allan Sayerd

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  • Amazing! Where on earth do you find food-grade wooden planks? I’ve never seen them in my life, but then I’ve never been looking…

    • I got mine in the Butler’s Pantry in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. I had seen them online also but never bothered. It was an impulse purchase, one of the few that I don’t regret.

  • I know what you mean about sponsored posts, but there’s a huge difference between using a generous gift from a local producer and writing about it (I’m assuming you’d have maintained a discreet silence if the cider had been horrible) and selling your soul, or at least your objectivity. Small producers need all the help they can get. And the salmon looks perfect – love the picture with the wisps of smoke.

    • Thanks Linda, I agree 100%. I would have poured the cider down the drain and never spoken the name. However, it is a really excellent tipple. One with which I intend to get cosier.

  • Love your work! Now to find a food grade cider plank and trial ciders available in Oz to patiently find the right one.

    • Hi Amanda,
      Thanks for the kind words. Trialing the ciders would be no trial at all. Let me know if you need any help with that…

  • Excellent salmon!
    I think if you write about something you genuinely like it’s not a commercial arrangement, especially if no money changes hands. I wouldn’t be inclined to write about a food or drink if I didn’t like it and I don’t think I could find good words if I was being paid to review something unpleasant either. If you like something made by a small artesanal producer a good review is doing the world a favour 😉

    • Thanks MD. You put it so much better than I could.

  • If I go back 5-6 years when I first ‘discovered’ blogs most of the ones from which I have since slowly departed are those which have become ‘commercial’, Nought against anyone making a few extra bob – just somehow the posts were no longer the same. This definitely does not belong in the category. Sincerely hope Dan Kelly gets a few more bottles sold and tasted!! Wish I had a glass myself!!! Planks: we do use them here Down Under and after seeing what you have done I surely feel like making a few enquiries!! Looks superb . . .

    • Thanks Eha, I know exactly how you feel. If I were to do something more commercial, it would have to be in a very separate space. And there is no doubt that any commercial arrangement will take the edge off the writing.

  • I don’t see why you shouldn’t publicly endorse a product you enjoy and approve of. You’d be obliged to say so if money changed hands or if you got commission on sales, but they clearly recognise a splendid forum for their product, so congratulations, and what a inspired use for a chunk of wood…

    • Thanks Kate, A commission on future sales might be the way out of it! I could say what I feel and, if the world agrees, I make a fortune and retire to a palm beach somewhere. However, I suspect that when I say what I really feel, my commissions might not be worth writing home about.

  • Connor I like this post a lot. I’ve just been to my first conference with bloggers.
    People put a lot of emphasis on the monetising side of things and I admit to being caught up in it myself a bit lately. I haven’t been down that road yet but certainly doing some investigating,
    Supplementary would be great at least…
    It is a great compliment at least when people say that to you anyway, that you could make a few $.
    The folk that do work at it tirelessly and have a lot of tech nouse too. And luck.

    I’d like to make a distinction between food bloggers and the thing that you and I do.
    Let’s call it a cooking blog.
    I see so many food bloggers with little to no original content, and I feel they really just want to be reviewers of others work.

    Now, excuse my little outpouring there and let’s get to that wonderful fish.
    I have never seen or prepared something cooked on cedar like that. Outstanding.
    I did work in a steak house with a smoke theme last year and cedar was one of the best scents.
    I can imagine it does the salmon a lot of favours and the addition of sage is a bold move, but you need to be bold to match that smoke flavour. Very nice ( without blowing smoke up the proverbial.)
    Maintaining integrity is the key to accepting offers to promote on your blog, and this has done that nicely.
    Ta.

    • Very well said Adam.
      I really would live in fear if I had to depend on the blog to put bread on the table. I hate seeing people who seem to drift into ‘food blogging’ and decide that they can be, amongst other things, a restaurant reviewer. So many find that there is little mileage in saying that everything was fine. So, instead, they like to pick and criticise. I feel that restaurants have enough to contend with without my grumbling about the seams on the tablecloth or the crispiness of the creme brulee crust. There are lots of other thinly disguised blogs promoting commercial products that really do little for the products. There is nothing wrong with a bit of commercialism but, it should be overt. In fact, we all love a good sales pitch. I just feel that one should be upfront about it.
      Rant over.
      Best,
      Conor

      • Good rant! It’s far more important to maintain good consistent content than worry about what marketeers might think. Then you can say what you like and admit some mistakes too. Be yourself. Looking forward to the next post.

  • I can almost smell the smoky aromas and can just imagine the amazing flavors of the salmon! Looks great Conor. My best and be well… ^..^

    • Thanks Barb. I thought you, of all people would like this one. The aromas and flavours were really spectacular. I will be doing this again. Perhaps next time with a nice trout. One of which, I have in the freezer. There’s next weekend’s project.
      Best,
      Conor

      • I really have to try this. I am interested in seeing how sage tastes with salmon. Be well Conor. ^..^

        • Hi Barb,
          I thought of sage purely because apple and sage is a classic combination. Therefore cider and sage should work. They do. It really was lovely and the cedar smoke really added to the whole affair. One of my better ideas, if you will pardon the self congratulation.

          • Sometimes we just have to pat ourselves on the back. Wait until you see my scallop recipe!

  • Looks fab. Completely agree in relation to monetising the blog etc – but I suspect we could chat at length on this one!
    Anyway I’m a massive fan of Dan Kelly’s cider and all things from their farm. If you’re looking for more cedar planks I know that they sell them in Jones at Lissenhall, just off the M1. All the best!

    • Thanks Caitriona,
      I have to admit that if there were a viable way to rake in the cash, I would be on it. Next time I’m up that way, I must pop into Jones’. Anybody selling the cedar planks has to be worth a visit.
      Best,
      Conor

  • This is timely as I was thinking about doing salmon on a plank. Love the idea of the cider.

    • Hi Virginia,
      The cider adds a nice flavour and aroma. Well worth giving it a go.
      Best,
      C

  • A man of conviction! Not only have you won my admiration with your rockin’ roll food C-Boy – your attitude friggin’ rules also!!! Great salmon by the way…you really should be using my Mate Greg”s Cider though…..MacIvors…best in the land oooh arr – oooh arr!

    • We do make some pretty good ciders here. I despair for the category that is ruled by the total confusion of sugary tipples, Magners and Bulmers. It reached its zenith a few years ago when there was a prize of some Bulmers on offer in a Magners League competition on Newstalk.

  • I’ve heard mixed reviews of those wooden planks. Your recommendation means I need to try one. I’ve never thought of pairing salmon with cider and sage, very original.

    Recently I was invited to a musical dinner to review it. The music was very nice but the food wasn’t anything I would normally review. It lacked salt, the white asparagus had not been peeled properly and the bell pepper soup had seeds and pieces of skin, amongst other things. I felt pretty bad about this as I had accepted the freeby on condition of writing a review. I had warned them that I would be reviewing the food, not the music. In the end we agree I would not write a review after all. Apparently they did improve the food for the next performances based on my feedback, so they got something out of it after all. Still this experience has taught me to be very careful about agreeing to review something, as I want to be remain my ability to speak my mind.

  • Huh. I hardly even like salmon, but this sounds delicious and is easy enough that I will try it.

    • Great idea Lisa. My eldest would not be a big salmon fan and she had two helpings.

  • G’day Conor!

    Well, I must say, a ceder plank is an agreeable way to make good use of a gas grill. Some smokey goodness ought to be highly achievable in such ways. And the marriage of the cider with the ceder sounds fantastic, and then from there onto the honeymoon with the salmon, well, needless to say, you’re a bright bloke! I imagine that tasted as amazing as it looked. Nicely done.

    On to the other topic of $. Yes, I am partial to your misery there. The conundrum of it all. We’re getting to that point too, in this interesting ride through the great, big blogosphere. That point where companies are starting to contact us, wanting to send us stuff. Like yourself, I’m still trying to figure out what the best way of going about that is. But I see what you mean. It’s not unlike a baseball player going professional. He gets to the big leagues, and soon loses his love for the game there. Passion gives way to the almighty dollar. And it’s tragic. But eventually, least wise in the movies, he figures out how to rekindle that love, and still make money at the same time. I dunno. I’m with you tho, and if you ever figure it out, let me know.

    Having done a few reviews now, I will say it has been a pleasurable experience by and far. I like helping people. I think the blogosphere is a better place if people are helping each other out. Especially towards the little companies, who are just trying to hang on in the world, and have a good product that your readership would find valuable. They get some cheap advertising. You get a free toy. And if you’ve done it right, hopefully your audience gets something of value. But I wouldn’t do it often. Just occasionally. We tune in after all, to read about your adventures. But once in a while seems tolerable.

    At the end of the day tho, I say do what you must to preserve your passion for the game. Everything else ought to fall into place after that. Well that’s the theory anyhow.

    Cheers Conor!
    PotP

    • Some great wisdom there indeed. It needs to be fun and I live in fear of losing the fun and gaining some stuff. That would be a poor enough trade. I like the baseball analogy but for the fact that there really is so little gain in it anyway. Unless there is a giant food conglomerate reading this and writing a huge cheque at the same time.
      We live in a sort of hope.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Soaking the cedar plank in cider is genius!!

  • Very nice idea. We have cidre de garde coming out of our ears here, and salmon and bay leaves are no problem…..I even have the right sort of barbecue….just need that plank of cedar! Not that I’d know a plank of cedar if I was struck with one….does it mean cutting down a tree…if I knew what a cedar tree looked like. As you can see, a born and bred countryman:)

    • I bought my plank in a shop. Though, the thought of doing something on applewood appeals too. The cidre de garde makes me envious.

  • We smoke salmon or steelhead trout (fresh caught, even, sometimes!) on wood planks! My husband picks up scrap alderwood from a cabinet shop he used to work at for free. We then soak it in water for at least four hours or overnight, then lightly oil one side and set it on the grill. Then we flip it over and lightly oil the other side and then cook the fish on the slightly charred side. That really helps infuse the smoky flavor yet doesn’t overwhelm the fish, either. However, soaking in cider first just puts this over the top! (and p.s. I get asked all the time if I make money or want to make money for my foodie blog. The answer is always a resounding NO, and never will. I do it for myself, my family, and any friends that happen upon it. I have a perfectly good day job. 🙂 ) Outstanding post, Conor!

    • Thanks Kathryn,
      That certainly gives me some good ideas for further planking. I was musing on this last night when I remembered that I have a lovely trout, in the freezer, caught fresh a month ago by a friend who gifted it to me. I think I will honour this lovely fish by giving it the plank treatment. Your approach sounds really very inviting. I’m with you on the money thing. If either of us were doing this for money, we probably would not get to have these conversations. That would be a shame.
      Best,
      Conor

  • The repeated “sponsored post” thing is usually when I drop somebody from my feed. (This does not apply to cider. Especially good local cider. Who could resist???)

    • You hit the nail on the head Michelle. If a post needs to be sponsored, it should be somewhere else, in my humble opinion.

  • Conor, this is a revelation. I had no idea that planking could be so tasty. Or even useful. I am very impressed and will make yet another promise to myself to try it out before I forget all about it while half way down a shop-bought and sinfully over-processed pie.

    The monetising thing is such a hairy subject. People who think bloggers should be making money from successful blogs are usually the same people who think people who work in financial services should retire early to play the stock market despite having precisely zero capital. But I have no problem with bloggers promoting something as long as it’s a) clearly signposted and b) a relatively rare occurrence.

    • The only way forward, as far as I can see, is to demonstrate some expertise through the blog and earn the money somewhere else. Though, the occasional promotion of something worthy is fair game.
      You bring shame on yourself with the pie eating!

      • I agree, on both counts, and have sworn off pies. How’s the book coming?

        • I need to talk to you about that….

          • I am most pathetically available for consultation pretty much any time, Conor…

  • Holy damn Conor. That thing looks tasty tasty!
    I recommend drinking and eating any products you may be gifted with… enjoy the bonus!

  • This sounds great-it’s a new cooking concept for me but I can imagine the flavours work really well together.

    • It was good. If you happen upon a cedar plank, give it a spin.

  • What was the cider like after the soaking? Also, how big was the salmon that peice came from?

    • Never saw the fish but it looked like a medium side. I didn’t bother drinking the bag contents. My bad!

      • Man seriously there’s some serious alcohol fermenting in them there planks.

  • All of my most favourite ingredients, but no gas grill, though more and more, I am considering getting one. Do you prefer it over charcoal? I grew up with charcoal and we built our own stone grill here, but, still, it has it’s disadvantages and advantages.

    I hear your quandary about the commercial side of blogging. I less enjoy my visits to those blogs than those that are not trying to sell something. And if you like a product or a place then by all means, promote it. It is more convincing anyway when it is not endorsed for monetary gain. Anyway, if you did decide to go that route, I would still enjoy my visits here, no doubt…such a personal decision.

    Hope you had a nice Father’s Day and happy summer to you!

    • You are too kind to me. My girls refer to Father’s Day as Hallmark Day and don’t do any of the sloppy stuff. They both love me, I know, and we don’t see any need to go overboard at any stage and show the world that is the case. As you might guess, we are not big on that sort of enforced ‘celebration’.
      The gas grill is incredibly easy to control and very good for most barbecue stuff. However, it does lack that huge heat that some seared dishes require. One can’t have it all!

      • We may not be able to have it ‘all’ but perhaps both gas and charcoal grill is a close second?

        We are the same, except call them ‘commercial holidays’. Defiantly we have made up sisters and brothers day in our house and ignore the other silly gifty days. Don’t even get me talking about V-day! What a farce…so sad for those who only get extra loved up once a year 😉

        • Too true. I am so well looked after here that every day is Father’s Day, Husband’s Day, Son’s Day and Christmas Day all rolled into one. Two grills is a great solution!

  • That Salmon looks delicious Conor. An old splash or two of that cider in an oven-cooked parcel of salmon would be good too I’d imagine.
    I love when unsolicited packages arrive at my door especially new brands. I plug anything I like; big brand, small brand, no-brand & new-brand.That’s the great thing about owning your own publication – you choose and your choices speak for themselves.

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