Cedar Cooking Sheets - What a Waste
I was at Williams Sonoma the other day and noticed they had a package of cedar cooking sheets. Figured I'd give them a try since there are only two of us at home, and I'm the only one who eats fish so why do I need a huge plank of wood for a small filet taking up all that space on the grill?
What a waste. First, when I took the first one out of the package, a piece of it split off. That one went in the garbage. I soaked the next one as specified. Put the piece of fish (tilapia - kind of flexible and thin) into it, and went to wrap it up. It barely covered it. It suggested using a piece of scallion or chive to tie it up. They must be nuts. Neither of these were an efficient way to keep it closed. Chive? Ridiculous - too flimsy. Scallion wasn't much better.
Taste? Not much.
I think the only way these will work is with a very thin piece of meat - but then you still have the issue of keeping it closed (tho maybe it would work if it was less stuffed - not that mine was stuffed, the fish was only a few ounces at most).
Has anyone tried these? Had any better luck with them?
I am not even sure what these are supposed to do. Impart a smoky flavor? It would seem that the only way to do that was wet some wood and heat it up until it begins to smoke. These sound somewhat thin and flimsy from what you describe. Were they expensive? It also sounds like these are single use. I get at least three or four uses out of cedar planks on the grill until I decide they are too yucky to use again (they do get a bit messy to handle over time as they blacken, but they work just as well after soaking. Were these meant for the grill or something else? Sorry for the questions and no answer. I am just curious because I've never seen these before.
They aren't really flimsy, but they do crack easily. And they were expensive, 12 to the pack, I think it was like $12 maybe? They impart a smokey flavor but I really didn't taste it. I used to use the planks, I disliked them also. You use them on the grill or the oven. I'm going to try it in the oven next time, see if it works better since it will probably take longer to cook the meat in the oven and the smoke flavor will have longer to impart itself into the meat (hopefully).
I've only seen these at Williams Sonoma and I'm thinking about writing them to complain about them.
I'm glad to have read your post, sivyaleah, because this was something I had recently heard about and had intended to try. I think I'll forget about it now.
Many years ago (15?), I worked in kitchenware store, and a vendor came in with these cedar planks for baking salmon; this dredges up an unpleasant memory. The boss gave them to me to test. Yuck. The part of the salmon that was up against the wood was slimy and undercooked. I gave it thumbs down, and that was the end of the cedar planks for our store.
Recently, I noticed that someone in the Hell's Kitchen show used one of these things for, you guessed, baking salmon. The chef complained bitterly that the salmon was raw.
As I remember, the vendor trying to sell these things claimed that this was how some tribes of American Indian cooked their salmon. Perhaps; but I am reserving my final judgement pending a reliable anthropological report as to exactly how they were used for salmon.
If you put the cedar on a hot grill, put the salmon on top of that and then cover it with a wok dome or something similar, it does hot-smoke the salmon and gives it a wonderfully sweet fragrance. But cedar planks are useless in the oven - they just don't do anything. As far as wrapping fish in thin cedar - that just sounds weird. It'll probably keep away the moths, though.
I suggest taking the package back to Williams Sonoma and asking for your money back. Especially after reading everyone else's responses.
My husband buys bags of wood chunks (they come in different types of wood--mesquite, cherry, etc), soaks a handful in water for an hour or two, throws them on the hot charcoal, and adds the food. Close the Weber kettle, and the fish or chicken or veggies get a nice smokey flavor. Nothing to clean up!
We use a handled flat basket thingy for veggies, fish and burgers: makes it easy to flip, and then we bring the basket into the kitchen to remove the food.
Good luck, p.j.