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why does everyone agree that "soaking wood chips does nothing" yet everyone "soaks wood planks" ??

NDGNDG Posts: 922
Just a question . . . 
Columbus, Ohio

Comments

  • AviatorAviator Posts: 1,472

    You do not want to soak chips as you want the oils in the wood to "smoke" and not steam the water from the chips.

    The planks are soaked so it does not char/burn and give an unpleasant taste to the fish.

    ______________________________________________ 

    Large and Small BGE, and a baby black Kub.

    And all the toys to make me look like a Gizmo Chef.

    >:)

    Chattanooga, TN.

     

  • tgklemantgkleman Posts: 199
    I don't soak planks either.  I was under the impression that the reason you use a plank, is to impart the wood's smoke into the fish (in my case) as it starts to char.  Otherwise you are just cooking indirect.
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,417
    You soak softwood planks to give you a little time before they start to smoke.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,690

    You soak softwood planks to give you a little time before they start to smoke.
    Exactly.  Give the fish a head start in cooking.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • NDGNDG Posts: 922
    Thanks.  I did a little research also and found much more info than I wanted on amazingribs.com.  I have heard people knock this site and also heard people praise the site, but below is the link and below is quick summary is right here.  

    Don't Soak Your Wood. This Myth Is Busted.

    Planking: An exception to the rule

    Plank cooking is a method of cooking food on top of a wooden plank. The technique calls for soaking the plank in water for several hours. The theory is that by soaking we prevent the plank from bursting into flame and the steam created on the top surface under the meat helps with cooking. As we know, not much water soaks into the plank, so just dipping it in water for a few minutes is long enough to get the job done.

    http://www.amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/mythbusting_soaking_wood.html

    Columbus, Ohio
  • NDGNDG Posts: 922
    I was confused because you always see bobby flay and other BBQ experts using a large bowl of soaked chips.   
    Columbus, Ohio
  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 5,989
    Cedar/Alder planking is an indirect cook, albeit one where the heat shield provides both natural oil taste, aroma and possibly smoke. The traditional method that I've seen involves the fish to be pegged to a board that is mounted on a slightly off vertical angle, stacked around a wood fire that allows the fish oils to self baste. The plank allows for a slower cook and protects the fish from burning. Most of the plank smoke is drawn off on the non-food side of the plank. 
    We plank salmon more for presentation than actual flavour, IMHO, smoke chips/chunks do a much better job. The Coastal First Nations did not have a kamado cooker like the egg.  
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,690
    NDG said:
    I was confused because you always see bobby flay and other BBQ experts using a large bowl of soaked chips.   
    It doesn't hurt anything to soak chips, it delays the smoke as the surface moisture cooks off.  That said, I don't bother.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,779
    Harold McGee has something to say about this.  I don't think Amazing Ribs has read his book, though.
    The Naked Whiz
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,690

    Harold McGee has something to say about this.  I don't think Amazing Ribs has read his book, though.

    stikestike Posts: 15,597
    Well. I have been preaching this for a while, and i'm late to the party. my logic is based solely on the construction of the egg. being airtight, it's not possible for wood to burst into flame (even at sear temps) because the spare o2 is not available.

    but. I think it's the Naked Whiz who references a good point, and something which Harold McGee concurs on. McGee says that soaked wood (in a regular old briquette environment) will lower the contact temperature and the wood will smoke at a temp where the lignins are burning at temps that produce sweeter compounds. you are basically breaking down wood into it's compounds when you burn it. at a high temp, you get different compounds. I'm way over simplifying, but there's thought that lower temps produce sweeter esters.

    i don't soak, because the wood in an egg doesn't burst into flame anyway.

    but there is some logic to why you might soak in other cookers.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
    stikestike Posts: 15,597
    the wood in a tree doesn't abosrb water really.

    it's a pretty cool dynamic. the leaves evaporate water, and so the surface tension at the leaf is enough to draw water from the twig, which draws it from the branch, etc.

    and thereby, hundreds of gallons of water are drawn up through the roots.

    pretty cool.

    gotta loves them trees.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • boatbumboatbum Posts: 1,273
    NDG said:
    I was confused because you always see bobby flay and other BBQ experts using a large bowl of soaked chips.   


    Somewhat repeating what Stike said above...   When cooking on a non-Egg cooker, soaking chips IS important.  The only control of the burn rate of the chips is the moisture content.

    When cooking on a controlled airflow cooker ( Egg ) - the amount of air available controls the burn rate.

    Look at a weber, all of the charcoal is burning 30-40 minutes in.   Look at an Egg, only the amount of charcoal which is supported by the available air is burning.  More air, larger % of the charcoal is burning, inverse is true.

    The ONLY benefit that I see to soaking chips is if I am using chips to have a low total amount of smoke, and I need 5-7 minutes to put the plate setter in, set the drip pan, rack, load the meat, etc and I do not want a face full of smoke.   In that scenario, I will give the chips 20 minutes of soak purely to delay their smoking.  

    IMO, soaking chips or chunks on an Egg has no impact.   On an unrestricted airflow cooker, soaking does have impact.

    Cookin in Texas
  • NDGNDG Posts: 922
    Good Stuff, and I agree with Stike that you "gotta love them trees" . . took this shot in Ireland last month.
    image
    Columbus, Ohio
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,417
    I'm outa here

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • NDGNDG Posts: 922
    hahaa - make me feel like a complete hippie, cool.
    Columbus, Ohio
  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,779
    Sometimes we burn our fires at higher temps with lots of O2 and we want a burst of smoke.  I soak then.  But not if I do the Dr. BBQ method of putting chips throughout the charcoal for a low and slow.
    The Naked Whiz
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,417
    Just to clarify the old posts that are sandwiched in this thread are not by the OP

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • ParallelParallel Posts: 404
    As I understand it the wood is soaked so as to introduce moisture (humidity) to the cooking chamber which reacts with chemical compounds in the smoke to make that "smoke ring" everyone is looking for, not to make more smoke.

    Every time my elbow bends my mouth flies open.
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,690
    Just to clarify the old posts that are sandwiched in this thread are not by the OP
    Thanks, we don't want Gary to have a stroke :D
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 452
    This is a very timely post for me since I'm planning on doing a cedar plank salmon tonight.  It'll be my first time doing it.  I've been searching through the forum all day looking for tips and recipes, and I've gotta say I'm really confused at this point.  Some people say soak for hours; others say soak for minutes; others say don't soak at all.  Doesn't seem to be any consensus.  I'm also having a hard time parsing through the comments by stike above.  Is the suggestion that the water keeps the temperature of the wood from elevating to a point at which it would give off nasty tasting smoke?
    Southern California
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,690
    edited June 2013
    bicktrav said:
    This is a very timely post for me since I'm planning on doing a cedar plank salmon tonight.  It'll be my first time doing it.  I've been searching through the forum all day looking for tips and recipes, and I've gotta say I'm really confused at this point.  Some people say soak for hours; others say soak for minutes; others say don't soak at all.  Doesn't seem to be any consensus.  I'm also having a hard time parsing through the comments by stike above.  Is the suggestion that the water keeps the temperature of the wood from elevating to a point at which it would give off nasty tasting smoke?
    Stike is talking about smoke wood like chips and chunks.  For the plank, 30 minutes is all you need to soak, it's not going to pick up much more water going longer.  The "idea" with the plank is it eventually starts smoldering and that adds a cedar smoke flavor.  You get limited use before the plank is burnt up with this technique.  Other people use the plank more as a cooking surface and for presentation.  In this case you'd use it on an indirect grate (so it doesn't smolder).  Hope that helps.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 452
    bicktrav said:
    This is a very timely post for me since I'm planning on doing a cedar plank salmon tonight.  It'll be my first time doing it.  I've been searching through the forum all day looking for tips and recipes, and I've gotta say I'm really confused at this point.  Some people say soak for hours; others say soak for minutes; others say don't soak at all.  Doesn't seem to be any consensus.  I'm also having a hard time parsing through the comments by stike above.  Is the suggestion that the water keeps the temperature of the wood from elevating to a point at which it would give off nasty tasting smoke?
    Stike is talking about smoke wood like chips and chunks.  For the plank, 30 minutes is all you need to soak, it's not going to pick up much more water going longer.  The "idea" with the plank is it eventually starts smoldering and that adds a cedar smoke flavor.  You get limited use before the plank is burnt up with this technique.  Other people use the plank more as a cooking surface and for presentation.  In this case you'd use it on an indirect grate (so it doesn't smolder).  Hope that helps.
    Does the smoldering effect add more flavor to the fish?  If not, is it best to avoid smoldering in an effort to lengthen the life of the plank?  Is that the purpose of soaking the plank for 30 minutes--to prevent the smoldering and its eroding effect?  In other words, will you get more life out of the plank if you soak for 30 minutes?  If not, what's the purpose of the soak?  Sorry for the barrage of questions; I'm just a bit confused here.
    Southern California
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,417
    Soaking or wetting the plank increases the period of time before the smoking starts. The egg makes the most of smoke flavour and it is easy to oversmoke. Das it.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • bicktravbicktrav Posts: 452
    Soaking or wetting the plank increases the period of time before the smoking starts. The egg makes the most of smoke flavour and it is easy to oversmoke. Das it.
    Ah, got it.  That makes sense.  I'll soak for 30 minutes tonight.  Appreciate the help.
    Southern California
  • Purpose of the soak is to allow the fish to cook a bit before the plank starts to char and smoke.  You normally will get 2 to 3 cooks per plank.   And yes, it definately adds flavor to the fish.  Cedar is good, but I prefer alder planks with my salmon.

    Damascus, VA.  Friendliest town on the Appalachian Trail.

    LBGE Aug 2012, SBGE Feb 2014

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