1 whole salmon (6 to 8 lb.), book filleted; (see notes)
1 cup rock salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
frame (see instructions below)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
lemon wedges

The tradition of the Indian salmon bake has deep roots in the Northwest.For centuries, Native Americans such as the Makah and S’Klallam have cooked salmon on a wood frame before an open fire. The practice is so widespread that no individual tribe lays claim to the technique, but typically, a straight, strong branch of cedar or ironwood is split lengthwise at one end, then the boned salmon is fitted into the split. To hold the fish flat so it will cook evenly, additional sticks are woven over and under the salmon at right angles to the branch. Notes: Order salmon with head, tail, and back fin trimmed. Also have salmon butterflied from stomach side without separating fillets along the back, then boned (but not skinned). Any white membrane from belly area of fish should be trimmed. (All of this can be done at the market.) This shape is called a book fillet.

1.Rinse salmon and pat dry. Mix rock salt, brown sugar, and white pepper. Spread half of the mixture over bottom of a 12- by 17-inch pan lined with plastic wrap. Lay fish, skin down, on salt mixture. Pat remaining mixture over salmon. Cover and chill 2 to 4 hours. Lift fish from pan, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry. 2. Meanwhile, select site (A, below), work out frame support (B), and start fire (C). 3. Load salmon onto soaked frame (steps 1 through 7 below). 4. When fire is ready, secure salmon at proper angle over the glowing coals with flesh toward the fire and wide end of fish 11/2 to 2 feet from heat (A, below). Check temperature by placing the back of your hand against the fish at the top and the bottom; you should be able to hold your hand in place for only 5 to 6 seconds. Adjust by pushing coals away from fish if too hot, closer if too cool. (To use a gas grill, turn heat to high, tip lid open, position frame over heat, and use your hand to judge cooking temperature. Move fish closer for more heat; turn down gas for less.) 5. Mix butter with lemon juice. Baste fish several times with butter mixture as it cooks. Check heat often. If wood frame starts to smolder, squirt or brush with water. 6. Cook fish until surface turns evenly opaque, 20 to 30 minutes. 7. Handling frame gently (cooked fish breaks up easily), rotate salmon so skin side faces the heat. Secure frame and continue to cook just until fish feels firm to touch, 20 to 30 minutes more, basting several times. 8. Gently lay salmon in frame, skin down, on a large board or platter. Snip wires and gently pull wood frame from fish. Serve salmon hot or cool. Lift fish pieces off the skin and season with juice from lemon wedges. Putting the salmon on the frame Purchase frame parts: At a lumberyard, have wood cut to specific lengths. You will need two pine 1-by-1s (each 6 to 7 ft. long), five pieces of 1/4- by 1/2-inch pine screen mold (each 18 in. long), and 2 feet of 22-gauge (or heavier)wire. Fireproof wood: Soak frame pieces in water at least two hours. If you don’t have a container long enough to immerse the wood, wrap the parts of the long stakes that will be exposed to fire in a thick layer of wet towels, seal with foil or plastic wrap, and saturate towels as needed. 1. To start, gather the soaked frame pieces, salad oil and a brush, wire, wire cutters, pliers, and fish. 2. Lightly brush salad oil onto a 24-inch section of one side of each of the long stakes, starting at one end. Lightly oil one side of each short wood piece. 3. Lay one long stake on a table, oiled side up. Starting about 5 inches from the end of the oiled part of the stake, lay three short pieces, oiled side up, about 5 inches apart across it.4. Center salmon, skin down, on frame, wide end pointed toward middle of stake. Adjust short wood pieces so fish overlaps frame by 2 to 3 inches on each end.5. Lay the two remaining short wood pieces, oiled side down, across the salmon between the short pieces under it–in effect weaving the fish in place.6. Place second long stake, oiled side down, directly over the one beneath the salmon. Wrap wire around top ends of stakes and twist tightly to secure.7. Wrap wire around stakes at the other end of the fish. Twist wire tightly to secure.
The site, frame support, and fire A. Select a site that is protected from the wind. Set frame at a 45° to 60° angle over the fire, sticking stake ends into a hole to hold it (or lean frame against the barbecue). B. Use rocks, concrete building blocks, bricks, or bagged sand to brace frame base securely. C. Build fire (see photo at top of page) in a portable barbecue (20 to 22 in. wide) with a firegrate, vents open: About 21/2 hours before serving time, ignite four or five seasoned, split logs (each 4 to 5 in. wide, 12 to 14 in. long) on firegrate. Let wood burn down to medium glowing coals, 1 to 11/2 hours; a few low flames are fine. Judge heat by holding your hand where fish will be. When you can barely hold your hand in this spot for five to six seconds, the fire’s ready for cooking.
Yield: 12 to 16 servin
Preparation Time: 3 hours

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