Though he is no frontier pioneer, Early Show resident chef Bobby Flay has taken to cooking the old way with a spin on plank fish — using lobster tail with smoked chile corn relish.
Cedar-planked fish is a generations-old tradition used by the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. Salmon is the dish most commonly cooked this way. Flay has decided not to use salmon, but rather he's selected lobster tails for his version of the cedar planked dish. Still, he says, no matter the fish desired, plank cooking infuses fish with a smooth smoky flavor.
Cedar planks of different sizes and thickness are available at most cookware stores and over the Internet.
If you are thinking of purchasing cedar planks from the lumber yard, be sure to ask for untreated cedar — avoiding chemical contamination in your food. Flay says baking planks and grilling planks are available in the market.
Baking planks are about an inch thick or more and are designed for use in the oven. Since these planks are most often used at moderate temperatures, they usually don't smoke much. They will darken with use but there's little worry about charring.
The grilling planks are much thinner and are intended for use on charcoal and gas grills. Over a direct flame, they'll smoke and char, lending a more pronounced smoky flavor to the food. A plank soaked in water or white wine will help keep the wood's temperature low. And you should use one new grilling plank after each use (the planks are relatively inexpensive).
Red cedar is the most popular wood, but one may also find planks made from alder. The latter has a cleaner flavor that's smoky, but not peppery, with hints of vanilla.
Flay says baking and grilling planks may be used to cook fish, poultry, meats and vegetables.
Cedar Planked Lobster Tails with Smoked Chile Corn Relish
Smoked Chile Corn Relish
8 ears corn, silks removed and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes
1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chipotle puree
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons canola oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Heat grill to medium high temperature. Remove corn from the water and grill, in the husk, for approximately 15 minutes, and with the top closed (turning the corn every few minutes). Remove the corn from the husk and remove the kernels from the cob using a knife, and place the corn in a medium bowl along with the onions.
Whisk together the chipotle, lime juice and oil in a small bowl then pour over the corn/onion mixture. Fold in the cilantro and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cedar Planked Lobster
4 cedar planks, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
8 lobster tails, par-boiled (run under cold water after boiling to stop the cooking)
salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat grill to medium high. Remove planks from the water and place them on the grill to get hot. Brush lobster flesh with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the tails, flesh side down onto two of the planks. Using tongs, place the two remaining planks on top of the lobster. Place on the grill, close the cover and grill until the lobster is just cooked through (about 12 to 15 minutes). Remove from the grill and serve two tails per person with corn relish on top.