Cooked over an open fire, Nordic fire-grilled salmon with potatoes and cream is an elegant and captivating dish for the most special winter gatherings.
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A roaring fire, sending sparks into the air. Burning wood, crackling and spitting with each additional log. And the spittle of juices dripping off a big piece of salmon, falling back onto the coals in a cascade of smoke and flame.
The first time I tasted Nordic fire-grilled salmon was in a Christmas market in Lubeck, where I went during the holiday season two years ago. I began drooling as soon as I saw the massive chunks of fish cooking over the open fire.
I watched in awe as burly men added coals and stirred logs, producing a burst of flames that would send rivulets of juice dribbling down onto the open flames. The smell alone was intoxicating, more appealing to me than any glass of mulled wine.
Served with potatoes and a delicate cream sauce, Nordic fire-grilled salmon was everything I could have wished for on a cold winter day.
For two years, I dreamed of recreating my own Nordic fire-grilled salmon at home. My husband and I brainstormed various ideas on how we could replicate the contraption that enabled the Nordic fire-grilled salmon to cook so expertly on an open flame.
After enough planning, we finally headed down to a local hardware store and purchased the necessary supplies:
- two grilling planks of your choice of wood (this is the cheapest batch of cedar grilling planks I found; if you'd like to purchase less than 12, this is a good option).
- an untreated craft wire;
- Regular coal (avoid briquettes for a more natural, longer burn); and
- barbecue wood chips (optional - it gives the fish an additional smoky taste).
We then purchased some fillets of fish with the skin on - we tried both salmon and trout, and both turned out expertly. And on New Year's Eve, off to work we went on making Nordic fire-grilled salmon.
The next time you are looking for a dish that would engage your guests, turning a simple gathering into a real winter festivity, try my Nordic fire grilled salmon. It's a recipe for special occasions that comes together quickly once you have all the supplies - and that makes quite a show!
Nordic fire-grilled salmon with potatoes and cream
- grill or open campfire
- grilling planks
- craft wire
- 2 large salmon fillets, skin-on trout will also work well
- 8-10 potatoes peeled
- 250 ml cream
- wild garlic or oregano
To prepare salmon:
- Soak grilling planks in water for at least one hour.
- Fire up your charcoal barbecue or campfire, getting it to a high heat and an open flame.
- Pat fish fillets dry.
- Using an electric drill, drill holes along the short edge of two grilling planks. The holes should be about double the diameter of your chosen craft wire. Pass wire through both grilling planks, tying them together - this should look like a spiral-bound notebook.
- Lay one salmon fillet along each grilling plank, facing each other (the two fish should be on the inside of a triangle created by the planks when they stand). Secure each piece of fish to its grilling plank using several rows of craft wire. Turn plank face-side down to ensure fish stays on.
- With red charcoals burning add woodchips, this wil release the aroma of the wood
- Stand grilling planks on top of barbeque or open flame campfire, creating the shape of a triangle. Let fish cook for 10-15 minutes, stoking the fire periodically to maintain a lively, strong flame.
- When fish has cooked to medium-well, remove from flame. Fish will continue cooking as it rests, so take care not to overcook.
To prepare potatoes:
- Boil peeled potatoes in a large pot with salted water, about 20 minutes.
- Slice potatoes into circles. Arrange on a plate. Top with a piece of the Nordic fire grilled salmon. Drizzle generously with cream - it should permeate everything! Sprinkle chopped wild garlic or oregano before serving.