Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How to Cook Salmon

Earlier this month I spent a week sailing the Florida Keys with 14 of my college friends or their S.O.s. in three boats. Two were 32 footers and the one I was on was 25 feet. Three persons in the group knew how to sail, one captain for each boat. There were two couples and myself on my boat, which was captained by Jimmy, my freshman roommate in Sewell Hall at CU in 1970.

(Right: Sunset in the Florida Keys.) Each boat had a low-powered diesel engine that would enable the boat to go about three knots. As a point of reference, in seven days our boat used three gallons of fuel. Jimmy was the best sailor of the lot, although the other two captains, Harrie (Jimmy's older brother) and Todd weren't slouches.

(Left: Jimmy. Behind him directly to the left of his head is the "oven" I used to cook the meal I prepared.) One night it was my turn to cook. Our kitchen was a portable two-burner alcohol stove below deck and a charcoal grill bolted onto the cockpit railing.

After getting the grill going with a layer of charcoal glowing red-hot, I spread out a long piece of aluminum foil on a bench and placed six half-pound salmon fillets on it in three side-by-side rows of top-to-bottom touching salmon steaks. Then I sprinkled it all liberally with McCormick Grill Mates Lemon Pepper with Herbs seasoning. I sliced two green zucchinis and two yellow long-necked summer squash into long thin diagonal slices and laid the raw pieces over the top of the seasoned fish. Closing the foil over the top, I wrapped another long piece of foil around the enclosed package and placed it on top of the grill in the charcoal grill unit, which I then covered and closed the vents on.

(Right: The meal I prepared.) Meanwhile I boiled about 18 small red potatoes on an alcohol burner. I'm a bachelor cook so I don't bother with salads, or appetizers, or anything that is hard to clean up.

Forty minutes later I removed the tightly-closed silver package from the grill, cut the red potatoes into slices and put the pieces on five plates , sprinkled them with squirty butter from a spritzer, put salt and pepper and lemon quarters on the table, poured the red wine (I like red wine, even if it doesn't supposedly go with fish), put a fish fillet, covered with vegetable slices, on each plate and set out the fare. The fish was soft, moist and barely flaky, and the skin stayed on the aluminum sheet as I slid the fillets onto the plates. The vegetables were similarly soft and moist but not overdone.

(Above left: The crew, l-r, Jeffrey, Maddy, Shelly, moi, Jimmy. We're standing next to our boat, Spring Tide.) I cook strictly by an innate sense of timing, and appearance, although I never peeked inside the closed foil rectangle. It was one of my standard meals, although I had never cooked it in a charcoal grill before. (At home I always prepare it the same way, pouring or sprinkling anything handy over the top of the fish, and cook it at 400 degrees in the oven for twenty minutes. With so much fish in the package, and having no clue as to what temperature it was in there, I doubled the time.)

(Right: Sure I can cook. You got any fish?) The other four persons seemed to like the meal and started spreading the word throughout the fleet that I was a gourmet cook. It was actually pretty easy, and it all came together at the end. One of the other boats also cooked salmon steaks a couple of times, but they actually grilled it on the grill each time.


Rainmaker said...

Wait - how come you never come over and cook for me?

I like that you're sporting the GW race shirt - very nice.

Looks like an awesome trip - and sounds like some pretty darn good food if ya ask me.

Black Knight said...

It looks like a wonderful trip and I am sure you used it to spy on the movements of the enemy.
And as the ancient romans said: Navigare est necesse, vivere non est necesse" (we need to sail not to live).
However if you need a sailor call me, I was a Coastie with the licence for the Patrol Vessels.

Just_because_today said...

planning on doing this again anytime soon? A bloggers salmon feast would be appropriate...

Kelly said...

Hmm... unfortunately, I don't like fish. So going on a sailing trip would probably be a bad idea.

But it sounds like you had fun!

Susan said...

Do your talents ever end??? Impressive and enviable, my friend.

DawnB said...

you have such wonderful trips!!

CewTwo said...

I have a friend that is a nurse. She says that the cough is associated with the b/p medicine. She also said that the SOP is to change the medicine and that should erase the deep, hacking cough (see? I know what you mean!) I will have to make an appointment with my Doctor and I'll let you know. My doctor did say that a pulmonary (?) function test will be necessary, then a run to a cough, and the test again!

That cooking story seemed FISHY to me!

Take care, Peter!

Sunshine said...

Hey .. You "don't bother with anything that is hard to clean up!"
That sounds like one super cool policy. I like it.
Vacationing is an art.. I salute you.

Anne said...

I wish I had your innate sense of cook time and confidence. I get scared every time I cook salmon, but perhaps you've unlocked the key to eternal success (key...Keys -- he he).

ShirleyPerly said...

That salmon really sounds good!!

I love fish but really don't know how to cook it (or many other things, to be honest). I actually find meat to be much harder to clean up than salads, lol.

David said...

Life is so debillitating down here in Florida.