Cedar plank salmon by itself is a flavorful and easy recipe to make during grilling season. However, the tea based spiced rub is next level stuff flavor-wise.
I know tea and grilled salmon don't sound like a great combo. Actually, tea and any food sound dead wrong. But hey they serve lox during tea time and that's close, right?
Why a tea rub?
I've always been fascinated with spice rubs. Back in the day, friends used to encourage me to start a bbq rub business. They even had my brand campaign worked out - Rub Moop in reference to my nickname. But anyway I've experimented with all types, most recently coffee-based rubs which I've used for both lamb chops and hanger steaks. A Tea rub was sort of an extension of the coffee version. I figured if coffee provided deep, complex flavor to grilled foods, then tea could bring the exotic with a cool jet blackness.
What kind of tea makes a good spice rub?
I know matcha tea is still all the rage with food trends, but I wasn't feeling green. I wanted dark and something that would hold up to a smoky grill. Chinese Lapsang tea was the choice for me. It's a smoky black tea that is from the Fujian mountains. Be impressed that I actually learned this at a proper British tea outing during one of my trips across The Pond. I've since become a tea snob, and only Lapsang and Rooibus teaser good enough for me.
The Lapsang is perfect in this grilled salmon recipe for both its color and taste. Both are quite distinct and will be a hit to your family or guests. Bulk loose-leaf or bagged versions are fine either way however, the bulk variety will be more course and provide a bit more texture depending on preference.
What type of fish works best in this dish?
Admittedly I haven't tested the tea rub with any other fish besides salmon, after all, cedar planked salmon is a common recipe for my house. Occasionally I use trout and this could have easily been a cedar plank trout recipe. Salmon is not my all time favorite, but you can't go wrong with it and it pairs so well with just about anything. So, it was the safe choice, but I'll add it ended up being a spectacular choice.
Can You Reuse Cedar Planks?
Technically, yes but I'd exercise some judgment. Assess the plank's condition after use. If it's heavily warped, burned and lacking any hints of smoky aroma then keep it moving. Do be mindful that the flavor of whatever was cooked previously will be lasting and will/can impart the flavor in the new dish. You can always clean/wash with water to minimize the leftover flavor.
Do cedar planks work in the oven?
Yes, the smoke flavor will not be as intense, but some of the cedar will definitely be imparted.
What other foods work well with cedar planks?
Cedar plank works with everything from chicken to vegetables. I've even cooked tofu for my vegan daughter, which she swears by. I don't eat tofu, so can only take her word for it.
Cedar Plank Salmon Cooking Tips
- Soak the planks in water first so they don't burn on the grill
- Salmon and trout (steelhead) are interchangeable in this recipe. You just want a thicker meatier cut to hold up to the heat and flavors
- Don't cook at too high a temperature. 375 degrees is as high as you want to go. Anything else will cook the salmon too fast which can lead to uneven cooking with perhaps an uncooked center. Also, too fast cooking time prevents maximizing the cedar flavor.
- As with any protein, allow it to reach room temperature before cooking
- Splash the salmon with lime juice just before serving
- Serve with a salad and/or side dish such as lentils.
making tea rubbed cedar plank salmon
If you make this cedar plank grilled salmon dish please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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FOR THE SALMON
- 1 ½ lbs Fresh Salmon
- 1 Cedar Wood Plank
FOR THE TEA RUB
- 2 tbsps Lapsang Tea
- 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 tablespoon Paprika
- ½ tablespoon Black Pepper
- ½ tablespoon Sea Salt or Kosher
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
MAKE THE RUB
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside
MAKE THE SALMON
- Soak the cedar plank in water for a minimum of one hour prior to grilling
- Season the fish with choice of spice rub and let sit for 30 minutes
- Place the fillet skin side down onto the soaked cedar plank.
- Place the planked fish on a hot grill (375 degrees) and close the lid. The plank will begin to smoke.
- Cook to desired doneness (usually 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish)
- Remove and serve straight from the plank. Garnish with lime and cilantro