Campfire Poached Salmon

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Recipes, Stories
Tags: , , , , , ,

Two summers in Alaska, living in a tent, taught me a few things. First, I like to camp. Second, well, bears. And it also taught me how to cook on a campfire. Pancakes, burgers, bacon, in a cast iron skillet are easy.  But fish, unless you fry, is a bit trickier.

Anyhow, I came back from work one day, after a short day at the cannery – we ran out of fish to process, so  we were getting a couple of days off – and when I walked into camp there was a nearly five foot long King Salmon lying in the sinks, a few large fillets already cut from it, a knife stuck in it and a sign taped to the wall above it “Eat Me”, it read. Turns out another camp resident had caught it for his smoker, and it was simply to damn big for him to smoke it all.

A beer run and a trip to the grocery store later, and I was ready to roll.

Here’s how I cooked it.

Cut two big fillets.  Took some heavy-duty aluminum foil and laid the fish on it, skin side down. Top next with two large tomatoes, sliced thin, covering both fillets like a blanket.  On top of this, same deal with two large lemons. Then a table spoon of butter on each to top it off. No salt, no spices, just that. If you add salt, you will increase the boiling temperature and over-cook your fish.

The next step is key. Folded up the foil lengthwise and crimped it/ folded it over on itself tightly, left one end open, (looked like a foil “Hot Pocket”) and kinda lifted up the  open end.  I cracked a beer, drank half of it, poured the other half in the foil-bag I just made.  Beer number two, same deal with the other fillet.  Then sealed the remaining open end very tightly.  It is key to make the whole package as tightly seal sealed as you can – air tight.

Placed the package in a bed over coals (don’t bury), and waited.  After a while – depends on how hot the fire is – the foil package “poofed” sort of like Jiffy Pop popcorn when the beer and butter and juices reached a boil.  (If you didn’t seal it air tight, this “poof” won’t happen and you may overcook your fish – that moment where is poofs is when its boiling inside, and it means the fish is done.)

Take them out of the fire, unpeel the foil, and feast. Add salt to taste at this point. Since you poured out half of your the beers you’ve opened so far, go ahead and have a full one with the meal.

This also works in the oven – set it to “broil”.

Trust me – this is fantastic.  If you are buying your fish instead of cutting it off a giant King Salmon, I do not recommend farm raised fish – the texture and flavor isn’t right.




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