Summer has officially started, and I know many of us are excited to spend a lot of of it outside grilling! Here in Chicago, we are moving into phase 4 of re-opening, which means restaurants can serve food outdoors. At The Chopping Block, we have been busy teaching virtual classes, including some grilling demonstrations on Sunday afternoons. So far, I've shown you how to make cedar-planked salmon, strip steak, hanger steak, flank steak, sweet potatoes, asparagus, corn and even the occasional veggie burger for my assistant/camera operator who doesn’t eat fish!
I enjoy grilling on our patio at Lincoln Square because just being outdoors is awesome! One of the most common questions I receive in our grilling classes comes up when I discuss the heat zones of a grill: “What do you mean by two different heat environments?” When grilling protein and vegetables on a grill, you want to make sure that you create two different heat environments or a two-zone fire: low heat and high heat. So, what does this mean? It just means to keep one side of your grill at a lower temperature, perhaps the lowest heat setting while the other side is a higher, or medium heat. This is a ground rule for grilling, and it applies to either charcoal or gas grills.
When using a charcoal grill like the Big Green Egg, I would recommend using the plate setter that usually comes with it, which creates indirect heat. If you don’t have a plate setter, the middle of the grill would be your high heat and the outside of the grill is low heat. You could also shift the smoldering coals to one side of the grill to create two different zones. In terms of temperature, your high heat should be between 400º F to 475º F while your low heat should be about 200º F. The most valuable advice I have for you is to develop a relationship with your grill. Learn how it works and how to adapt it to the temperatures you want to achieve.
Now that you know about this important rule, let’s get grilling! Here is a recipe for a delicious grilled cedar planked salmon.
Cedar Planked Salmon
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield 4 servings
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sambal
2 cedar planks
Four 5- to 6-ounce salmon fillets, skinned and boned
- Soak the cedar planks in water for at least 20 minutes. If it is your first time using the planks, toast it over the hotter side of the grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side
- To make the marinade, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, honey and sambal in a baking dish. You can also measure together the ingredients in a zippered plastic bag.
- Place the salmon fillets in the baking dish or the bag, ensuring they are evenly coated with the marinade. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
- Set up your gas or charcoal grill with a two-zone fire: hot on one side and cool on the other.
- Place two marinated salmon fillets on each plank.
- Place the planks in between the two zones on your grill. It is beneficial to allow the plank to smoke a bit from the heat of the grill to release the cedar flavor.
- Close the lid and cook the salmon until just cooked through. An internal doneness of medium is ideal. If the plank begins to burn, move it closer to the cooler side of the grill. Once cooked, remove from the plank and serve.
Make the best out of this summer season, join us for our virtual classes and make sure to check our Chef’s Table Experience. You and up to 3 guests can join us as part of our studio audience for a virtual grilling class. You and your guests get to watch the virtual class, ask questions one-on-one with the chef before and after the class, sample the food and enjoy a beer or some wine, if you like. The next Chef's Table Experience is happening on Sunday, July 19. I hope to see you there!