I love the flavor that the cedar imparts to fish ... I have made this recipe with other whole fish, it's very good with trout too. A word on cedar planks - you can buy them from a specialty store for like $11.99 if you want, OR - you can go to Home Depot and purchase UNTREATED cedar fence pickets for about $2.49 and cut them to length, thereby getting a BUNCH of planks for a fraction of the cost. Fish wider than the picket? Just lay 2 side by side on the grill and proceed! - aargersi —aargersi
Test Kitchen Notes
We'd never grilled a fish on cedar before and what a revelation! The cedar wraps the fish in a sweet smokiness without overwhelming the gentle flavor of the sea bass. And if you're ever looking for a dish that'll be a visual showstopper, this is it -- the fish firms up and turns the color of bronze on the grill, making it look frozen in time. Our 2 1/4-pound fish took 26 minutes to cook through. - A&M —The Editors
A few hours ahead of cooking, soak your plank in water - you will have to weight it to hold it under. I do mine in the sink with a heavy pot. Heat your grill to HIGH when you are ready to get started.
Rinse the fish and pat it dry. Sprinkle the inside with olive oil and kosher salt.
Line the inside of the fish with the basil leaves, then layer the sliced tomato, onion and lemon. How many slices will depend on the size of the fish.
Salt the outside of the fish, then tie it up with kitchen twine - roast style. Lay it on the plank.
Head out to the grill. Make sure it is VERY hot. Lay the plank / fish on the grill and lower the cover. You are going to want to check every couple of minutes JUST in case the plank isn't completely soaked - coals and smoke are GOOD, a flaming plank is BAD. That's where the squirt bottle comes in.
You might want to squirt the bottom part of the plank a couple times in either case to make it smoke up a bit. The smoke adds a TON of great flavor.
When the plank is blackened and the fish is toasty brown on the "up" side, you're done! (see photo) Bring it in and cut the twine away. If you are a wimp (like me) remove the head and serve!
Caution - the fish I cooked did have a lot of bones so I had to pull the meat out carefully. Just depends on your particular fish ...