During the summer salmon season, I work with my partner Michael onboard a small commercial fishing boat in Southcentral Alaska. Tuned into the tides, weather, and ocean currents that pull the fish back to the rivers, we chase the harvest of abundant wild salmon swimming through Alaska’s cold, clean water. The daylight lasts forever and when there is a moment with a break from fishing, you’ll find us with the boat pulled up on some beach starting a fire with driftwood, a slab of fresh salmon on hand. As the fish slows cooks over the coals, fingers burn sampling bites of the brilliant red fillet. The fish flakes apart and melts on your tongue with a salty, smoky flavor.
This time of year, as winter is slowly gaining daylight, we look forward to the upcoming fishing season and a summer of salmon. In anticipation, we head to the coast in the chilly winter air and gather up driftwood for a fire. Getting outside and cooking wild salmon over an open fire is an adventure no matter the season, even in the cold, misty weather of winter.
Campfire Grilled Citrus Salmon
1 lb fillet of Wild Salmon
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons of Orange Zest
1 Teaspoon Crush fennel seeds
3 sprigs fresh fennel fronds
3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
Juice from half an orange
Sea Salt to taste
Sea salt, a squeeze of citrus, and campfire smoke is my favorite way to enjoy wild salmon. This recipe is vibrant with winter citrus, which pairs beautifully with salmon.
1. Make a beachside campfire and wait until you have a nice amount of coals (or fire up your grill on the back deck).
2. Drizzle olive oil over the salmon. Garnish with sea salt, crushed fennel seeds, orange zest and a few sprigs of fresh fennel and lemon thyme.
3. When cooking wild salmon over the fire, the secret is to cook it low and slow. Make sure to be careful your heat source is not too hot. Once your coals are ready (or if you are using a grill - set the heat to low), place your fillet of salmon on the grill grate skin side down.
4. Cook the salmon for about 10 minutes before flipping with skin side up. Cook for 2 minutes until flipping back to skin side down. Squeeze the juice of half an orange over the fish.
5. This last part is delicate timing, you are watching for the salmon to flake apart and depending on your heat source, this timing could vary. Keep a close eye and once you see the fish gently flaking apart, remove from the grill and enjoy.
Recipe from Nelly @driftersfish