This recipe takes the idea of cedar-plank-cooked fish a step further, using cedar branches and maple leaves to impart a great smoky, woodsy flavor. Grape leaves can be used in place of the maple leaves.
- 1 bunch cedar branches, such as eastern white, mostly greenery, plus very thin strips cedar bark
- 8 to 12 unsprayed striped maple leaves, stems removed
- 8 thin lemon slices
- 4 halibut or other firm whitefish fillets (4 ounces each; 1 1/4 inches thick)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Soak cedar branches and bark in water (weighted with something heavy to keep submerged) for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange 2 or 3 maple leaves on a work surface, overlapping slightly. Top with 2 lemon slices and 1 fish fillet. Season with salt and pepper. Wrap leaves around fish to enclose, and secure with a "string" of cedar bark. (You can also use kitchen twine.) Repeat with remaining leaves, lemon slices, fish fillets, and cedar bark.
Fill the bottom of a large cast-iron skillet with drained cedar branches. Heat over high heat until fragrant and just starting to smoke, about 3 minutes. Arrange fish packets on top of cedar branches, and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven, and cook until fish is firm and the tip of a paring knife inserted into the center comes out hot, about 12 minutes. Serve immediately.