Planked fish is fish which has been cooked on a plank of aromatic wood. This preparation technique is commonly used on the grill, although planked fish can also be baked, broiled, or roasted. Many kitchen supply stores sell planks for the purpose of making planked meats, and you can experiment with a number of sauces and marinades for planked fish to enhance the flavor. The plank also makes a handy serving platter, incidentally.
Cedar and alder are popular choices of wood for planked fish, although birch, cherry, and other woods can be used as well. Generally, aromatic woods are used, because the plank will infuse the fish with flavor while it cooks. The plank is soaked in water before the food is prepared so that it will not burn in the hot conditions required to cook the fish; most planks need to soak overnight for the best results. One of the most effective ways to soak a plank is to put it in a garbage bag with a thin layer of water and to twist the garbage bag shut to keep the water inside so that the wood gets moist.
In addition to flavoring the fish, a plank will also provide a stable surface for grilling. This allows cooks to grill fish which are normally too delicate and tender for the grill. Any variety of fish can be prepared on a plank, along with a wide range of meats; remember than when you are grilling planked fish, the cooking time will be longer, since the fish is not in direct contact with the meat. Many people like to cover the grill so that the fish stays moist while it cooks, since a longer cooking time can cause planked fish to dry up.
Planked fish can be marinated or rubbed with a spice mixture before grilling, and it can also be basted while it cooks. Some cooks like to experiment with things like bacon wrapped fish while they grill on the plank; the bacon will baste the fish and keep it moist while it cooks. Other cooks keep the seasoning simple to allow the natural flavors of the fish and the wood to come out.
When you prepare planked fish or other meats, make sure to use a plank which is safe for food use. Some woods are treated with chemicals before sale, because they are intended for construction. Ideally you should purchase a plank from a kitchen supply store, as the staff at a lumber yard may not always know what wood has been treated with, and these chemicals can be harmful.