I was at Trader Joe’s today for a completely unrelated mission (cheap wine) when I browsed their frozen seafood section. I came across a neat-looking item: king salmon already seasoned on a cedar plank. I was just talking about king salmon with a co-worker of mine who is from Alaska. I don’t recall ever having king salmon and I’m just too cash strapped to buy it online. The wild-caught salmon I usually see here in New England is frozen or previously frozen sockeye and coho. It stood out from the pack, and I grabbed it on impulse.
Trader Joe’s Packaging and Price
I don’t shop at Trader Joe’s that much, but I usually like what I get. However, many of their items tend to be on the small side. Their cedar-planked salmon breaks this trend as they come in nice hefty portions over 1 pound, including the plank. They went for 10.99 a pound, which made for a slightly pricey dinner, but no different than if I was grilling up a modest sized steak.
A big selling point for me was that it came with a pre-soaked cedar plank that can be cooked in the oven. It can also be cooked from frozen, which I is how I will be doing it. One concern was how smokey this will make my house and if the fish will be done using the “cook from frozen” directions.
Although the salmon was frozen, you could tell it was a nice-looking piece of fish. Trader Joe’s is famous for not revealing their suppliers, including their seafood. In my gluttony I got two of them and even before putting them in the oven I figured my mother-in-law was going to get an unexpected present later. The seasoning as stated on the label was not much more than salt, pepper and thyme.
Preparing Trader Joe’s Cedar Plank Salmon
I am simply following the instructions as listed on the package since the salmon is already seasoned. As instructed, I placed the planked fish directly on the oven rack and cooked at 375 for about 40 minutes for frozen. I could have thawed them out, but I’m sort of curious about how it will turn out. While it cooked my house had a faint hint of cedar, but no detectable smoke.
After 40 minutes of cooking, the salmon was not even close to being done, but I had a feeling this may happen, so I started them earlier than usual. It took another half an hour for the thickest part of my salon to reach 140F but it was worth the wait.
This was very good and did not suffer from being cooked from a frozen state. Moist, flavorful, just enough flavor from the thyme and the cedar. The fish was pre-seared, which gave a nice crust just like I did it on the grill. I love that distinctive flavor from wild-caught salmon, the flakes close to the skin remind me of grilled mackerel and always takes me back to my childhood.
I’m glad I cooked two of them as one is enough to share but is better as a mini feast. I would definitely buy this again, next time I’ll thaw it first and maybe try it right on the grill. So, thanks Trader Joe’s for a very pleasant surprise!