In case you’re not familiar, planking is cooking food directly on a piece of hardwood. The idea is that the surface of the food touching the wood picks up some of the plank's natural flavors when heated. The culinary eggheads have documentation that the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest pinned their salmon to large driftwood boards, then slow cooked them over burning embers.
I have taken that classic technique and adapted it to Sous Vide. By charring a cedar plank ahead of time either with a blowtorch or an outdoor grill brings out all the lovely Smokey flavor one would find on a live fire. After vacuum sealing the charred plank topped with the walleye it goes straight into the SV1 where the gentle swirling water cooks, while the smoky cedar flavors perfume the fish - all in the bag!
Generally speaking fish is incredibly easy to overcook but the Sous Vide technique is the perfect way to gently cook even the thinnest fillet perfectly. I like to use a mild salt brine when preparing this dish; it’s a great way to improve the flavor and texture of the flesh. The salt in the brine causes the muscle fibers in the fish to swell and retain more water. It’s also a beneficial way to prevent the albumin (the white milky liquid between muscle fibers) to leech out during cooking.
If you happen to be a bit squeamish about cooking a hunk of wood you can forgo the plank and vacuum seal the fish on its own and continue with the recipe - either way Sous Vide is perfectly suited for fish and when you add a fragrant charred cedar plank it takes your food to a whole new level!
• 2 small or one large walleye fillet, boned and trimmed
For the Brine:
• 5 cups water
• 4 tablespoons kosher salt, fine grind
For the Parmesan Crumble:
• 1 cup panko bread crumbs
• 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
• 1/4 cup unsalted "sweet” butter, softened
• 2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed, or to taste
1. Preheat the SV1 to 50°C / 122°F
2. In shallow baking pan or bowl dissolve the salt with the water and add the walleye.
3. Brine the walleye for 30-45 minutes refrigerated.
4. While the walleye is brining, using a blowtorch or outdoor grill, char the cedar plank until fragrant and slightly smoking.
5. Remove the walleye from the brine, and blot dry with paper towel.
6. After the plank has cooled place the walleye fillet skin side down on the center of the charred plank and top with the butter.
8. Gently place the bag in the SV1 and cook the fillet for 30-45 minutes
9. While the fish is cooking place all of the ingredients (for the parmesan crumble) into a medium sized bowl and using your fingertips knead the mixture together until thoroughly blended and crumbly, reserve at room temperature.
10. Gently remove the planked walleye from the bag and sprinkle the parmesan cheese crumble over the top of the fillet.
11. Using a blowtorch gently brown the crumble being careful not to burn the mixture or overcook the fish.
12. Serve immediately on the plank.