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Planking Traditions & History


Pork Chops with
Peach Barbeque Sauce

Oven Roasted on
Nature's Cuisine Alder Plank

Planking Traditions & History Plank cooking originates with seasonal rituals of Pacific Northwest native people. Not surprisingly, many of these rituals are integrally linked with annual wild salmon migrations. For millennia, wild salmon flashing silver as they swim from the open sea to birthplace streams far inland have been a visible presence of sustenance and hope for native tribes living in the region. The native people believed that salmon were a gift bestowed by the sacred water of rivers and ocean. At ritual ceremonies, native villagers living beside the Columbia River and its tributaries celebrated the arrival of the first wild salmon swimming home upstream with dances and songs.

Grillling Planks
“Plank cooking is a native Pacific Northwest tradition shared with the world. ”

Pacific Northwest people traditionally cooked salmon by smoking a whole fish or a salmon filet on a wood plank. The planks used most often were aromatic wood from indigenous trees of the Pacific Northwest such as alder and cedar, a tree that was also sacred. To prepare the salmon for cooking, women would tack or wrap the fish with vines to secure it on wood planks and stand the planks vertically on end around a fiercely burning open firepit. Slowly roasting in their own juices, the fish absorbed the smoky aroma and moisture of the cedar or alder plank to gain extra flavor and succulence.

Pacific Northwest natives later shared the plank cooking method for wild salmon with European explorers and settlers. In the 1890s, the method gained popularity when some of the first hotels in the Northwest treated guests to this dramatic local cooking style

Today, chefs and home cooks alike prize the simple, straightforward style of plank roasting that adds complex flavors and moist texture to a range of foods.


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