Planking is a method of cooking fish that the settlers of the region learned from the Native Americans. A whole fish is tied to a large piece of driftwood and placed vertically next to a fire, where it cooks slowly until done. Today, planking is accomplished by placing a fish fillet on a soaked plank of wood—usually cedar, which gives off a tasty and unique flavor. The fillet is then cooked, plank and all, on a grill over a fire or even by baking in an oven.
The cedar planks used in this preparation are easy to find at a local building supply store. Cedar roof shingles are usually smooth on one side and the perfect shape for a fish fillet of this size. Be sure to purchase the untreated variety, as some shingles come with a chemical fire retardant that leaves an unpleasant after-taste on the fish. The shingles are inexpensive. It is recommended, for sanitary reasons, that they not be reused. The whitefish called for in this Central Plains recipe can be walleye, pike, or yellow perch. However, the procedure yields excellent results with any type of round fish or large flatfish, such as halibut or turbot. Small flatfish, like sole and flounder, should be avoided, as they are too delicate and tend to absorb too much flavor from the wooden planks.
4 Untreated cedar wood planks or shingles, 4 x 6 x 1/2 inch (10 x 15 x 1.2 cm)
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 Egg yolk
2 tablespoons Lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Bread crumbs
1/4 cup Green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons Parsley, chopped
1 Garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
4 Whitefish fillets, skinned and boned
to taste Salt and black pepper
1 Soak the cedar planks in water for at least a few hours before proceeding.
2 Mix the butter, egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, bread crumbs, green onions, parsley, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse for 1 minute to combine into a paste. Roll the paste into a cylinder about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm.
3 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
4 Remove the planks from water, dry, brush with the oil, and place in the oven on a baking sheet for 5 minutes to begin to season the wood.
5 Brush the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper.
6 Remove the paste from the refrigerator and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place 1 to 2 slices on each fillet.
7 Place the fish on the hot plank and return to the oven. Bake the fillets for 8 to 10 minutes (or until opaque and flaky), until the butter has melted into a brown crust.
8 Remove and serve immediately.
American Regional Cuisine
by The Art Institutes
John Wiley & Sons
Recipe reprinted by permission.
Unlike the petri dishes and test tube foods of the mad scientists, the recipes below reflect traditional methods, but ones well worth knowing, especially before deconstructing your next shrimp cocktail. Be sure to read their headnotes, to learn more about the history behind each dish.
Copyright © 2006, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created August 2006
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