George Hirsch’s Cedar Plank Whole Fish

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I have planked for years it's fool proof and quite impressive for entertaining in your home. Over the past twenty years I've introduced the age old art of hot smoking on wood planks in my TV shows and cookbooks. However, this technique of cooking on planks is far from new. The Indians in the Pacific Northwest cooked on cedar and alder, a tradition done for many centuries, as all cooking on an open fire. Once you try it yourself you'll see why. On a recent visit to my home studio kitchen I shared tips and tricks with Restaurant Hunter TV Series for another great day outdoors around the grill. Enjoy!   

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George Hirsch’s Cedar Plank Whole Fish

Makes four servings | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 cedar plank

One 1 1/2 - 2 pound whole sea bass, or branzino, etc. cleaned

Juice of one fresh lemon

6 sprigs fresh thyme

sea salt + fresh ground black pepper

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon, sliced  

Soak plank in water to cover for at least 2 hours; drain.

Pre heat Grill to high.

Rub plank with one-tablespoon olive oil.

Place whole fish on plank; season with sea salt, thyme, black pepper, lemon juice. Top with remaining olive oil. 

Grill 10-14 minutes on a covered grill for optimum smoke or until fish is cooked. The thickness of the fillets will determine final cooking time. 

Grill lemon slices on high heat for two minutes or just until slightly charred. Place grilled lemon slices on top of fish while cooking for added flavor.

Serve with extra fresh grilled lemon slices and top with fresh time leaves.


Soak planks for at least 2 hours or morein cold water before you fire-up the grill.

Make sure the grill is good and hot, this is key! Grilled cedar planked fish takes on a wonderful smoky flavor. The plank will be charred, but the fish will be perfectly cooked. When opening grill if planks should flare up, spray plank with water to dose flame and immediatly close grill cover to reduce oxygen. 

Note: Cedar plank should be untreated non-resin wood, no thicker than 1 inch.

Power Foods

Winter is a good time to literally take inventory of how many of these power foods you have on hand, restock and reminds you to incorporate them into your daily diet. I also take this as a good opportunity to go through non perishables + canned goods to give to my local food pantry.

Almonds: good fiber, protein good for your heart. Go ahead and go nuts!

Apples: Vitamin C and soluble fiber and helps keep the doctor away.

Beets: rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters; save fresh stems for salads for a double bonus.

Blueberries: big plant compounds to prevent chronic diseases. Toss in cereal and yogurt to get your day started right.

Broccoli: missed your O.J. today? Have a glass of broccoli; it’s powerhouse of calcium, potassium, folate, fiber, Vitamins A & C. 

Red Beans: excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, thiamin, and copper, low fat low cal source of protein and fiber. A complete meal with steamed brown rice.

Spinach: Vitamin A and C folate. Good source of riboflavin, vitamin B-6, calcium iron and magnesium. Boost your immune system and keep hair and skin healthy. Seemed to work for Popeye.

Salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids, aids in keeping blood from clotting, good source of protein. Need more reason, just try this tasty recipe for Cedar Planked Salmon.

Sweet Potatoes: high in antioxidant beta-carotene which can slow the aging process. Good fiber, fat free, and under 60 calories per tuber.

Swiss chard: a leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes. Sorry, the DMV still requires an eye test for drivers license even if you eat your Swiss chard.

Pumpkin seeds: the most nutritious part of the pumpkin. Full of magnesium; high levels of the mineral are associated with lower risk for early death. Helpful in the dugout during a Game Day too.

Sardines: high in omega-3’s, loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins. Enough said.

Turmeric: more than just a yellow color to paella, it contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Wheat Germ: great boost to your immune system and cardio health. Go ahead treat yourself to an ice cream topped with wheat germ, you are doing yourself good. 

Vegetable Juice: when choosing, select a low sodium version because it’s filled with lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces risk of heart attack and prostate cancer. 

Source: 'Recipes for a Healthy Active Life', by George Hirsch, Living it UP! TV series companion cookbook