The Northwest Coast Indians have a long tradition of putting the aromatic imprint of cedar on foods. At Sunset, we've adapted this regional approach through the years by grilling salmon on untreated cedar boards. But Seattle chef John Howie, who also likes to smoke foods, takes cedar cooking a step further: He bakes and serves foods on a thick, rimmed cedar plank. The plank would be inclined to split or warp if not reinforced by long metal screws that can be tightened as needed. Howie reports that with a little care ― washing the boards by hand, coating them with salad oil before and after use, baking on them at 350° or lower, and occasionally rubbing them with fine sandpaper to restore the wood's fragrance ― planks can survive five or more years of restaurant use.
Made by Pacific Northwest Fine Wood Products, a 9- by 12-inch plank costs $29.95, a 91/2- by 16-inch, $37.95. Call (800) 881-1747 or go to Howie's website, www.plankcooking.com.