Plank Salmon as Mark Does It

I am a lover of seafood, be it ocean or creek (or “crick” as we called it growing up.)  And I love to eat, and to cook and eat grilled things (cinnamon toast is grilled bread, after all, sort of)…so there’s a natural intersection.  I recently tweaked one of my favorite meals and wrote out the process for a friend of mine, so I thought I’d make it available here.


  • 2 large fresh salmon filets, as uniform a thickness as you can get
  • 3 fresh lemons
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1 tb. dried taragon
  • 1 pkg thin sliced prosciutto
  • 1 tb. crushed Montreal Seasoning

 Cooking, Prep and Serving Gear:

  • gas or charcoal grill
  • large flat serving platter
  • 12″ cutting board
  • 2 cedar planks (12″)
  • mortar and pestle
  • basting brush
  • big spat to move planks on grill
  • thin serving spat to prep for serving
  • sharp knife to cut portions and trim lemons
  • spray bottle not previously used for solvents or detergents
  • glass of Siren Song Chardonnay or Islay single malt scotch with cold
    whiskey stones
  • Means to play either Herbie Hancock (“Dis Is Da Drum“) or anything Miles Davis within ear shot (CD or Streaming)

The Cooked Salmon

  1. soak the cedar for a couple of hours (they often suggest only 30 min, but they need to be soggy to get the best flavor)
  2. melt a stick of butter and crush dried taragon leaves into it, add lemon juice 1:1
  3. carve the peel from three lemons and slice thinly
  4. separate the strips of prosciutto so they are easy to pick up
  5. dust the plank very lightly with the crushed Montreal
  6. arrange the salmon on the slab so nothing sticks over the edge leaving a 1/2″ margin if you can, you can gather it slightly as the cedar will hold it in place
  7. dust the fish very lightly with the crushed Montreal
  8. fill a spray bottle with apple juice
  9. super heat the grill
With Shittake Mushrooms

With Shittake Mushrooms


  1. plant the planks on the grill and close the lid for 5 min
  2. watch for flames and open the lid only when they light up, spray with apple juice til out
  3. turn the heat down to 250-300 or so (depends on the grill)
  4. at 5 min and periodically another 2-3 times, baste with the butter mix
  5. when the white starts forming on the fish as the juice steams but before a finger push comes back firm, place the strips of prosciutto to cover the fish except for the edges of the fish
  6. with 5 min to go, place 2-3 lemon slices on top of the prosciutto
  7. continue to baste at each step
  8. when the fish is firm to a finger press, go another 5 min and kill the fire


  1. if the boards aren’t too burned, serve plank in place, slice the fish into two inch wide strips cross ways (perpendicular to the spine)
  2. if they are burned too much to serve (or are smoking too much) then slide a thin blade or spat between skin and fish and place on cutting board, slice as above and place on a platter
  3. garnish with fresh lemon slices and a sprinkle of dried taragon or sprigs of fresh taragon

Possible Pairings:

  • Butter Nut Squash Soup drizzled with spicy peanut oil as a first course
  • Warm Greens Salad

    Ceasar salad with whole anchovies or fresh baby spinach with carmelized walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette or a warm salad of arugula, bok choy in an onion vinagrette garnished with fresh mozzarella, greek olives  and compressed watermelon.

  • Pumpkin risotto with Tuscan Kale or Fettucinne Alfredo italian style (no cream)
  • Siren Song “A Night in Madrid” or possibly Siduri Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot  or Reynolds Family Russian River Pinot unless it has to be a cab, and then go for Andrew Geoffey 2005 or Reynolds Family Persistence (any year).


  • Sweet basil or even italian parsley/cilantro can replace the taragon (just remember, famed chef James Beard was heard to say that given enough taragon he could even be a cannibal…)
  • you can sub olive or argan oil for butter or mix them with the butter to raise the smoke point on hotter grills and  for faster cooking
  • sometimes, to crisp the prosciutto, remove the planks, super heat the grill and put them back on for 5

It’s good to eat.


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