The Boy has always said "Never trust a thin chef" and he seems to follow a similar logic for bushmen. Since I got to know him, I know that I've been wrestling with a rather hefty draw for his affections. He totally loves Ray Mears. His logic is that Ray, with his generous waist line, is not simply surviving in the wilderness but properly living.
His high regard for the portly master of the wilderness extends to his cooking skills. Our feeding-of-the-many-people gave him the ideal opportunity to try out some Mear-esque catering. Our lovely friends at Cronkshaw Fold provided us with a mammoth (whale-like) salmon which inspired The Boy to try out a butterfly technique that he’d seen Ray demonstrate.
After removing the fins and scoring around the head, he gently plied the bones away from the flesh and – voila! – a perfectly butterflied salmon. He then laid it out on the barbecue grill until the skin was satisfyingly crispy and the flesh was meltingly soft and juicy. It had taken on a deep smokey flavour which was incredibly moreish. We served it as it was with no accompaniment as a sort of starter before a vat of risotto was dished out.
It was pretty simple so I think this will become a regular dish at summer barbecues when the weather makes up its mind. I don’t know about you but I don’t think of fish when I think of goodies to slap on the grill. Sausages, for sure. Burgers, defo. Halloumi, my goodness yes. I might do a few prawn kebabs but nothing more adventurous than that. There must be good recipes out there! What are your fish recipes for the barbecue?
Butterflied barbecued salmon
You will need:
one whole salmon (ideally gutted and scaled by your fishmonger unless you're hardcore like Ray)
one sharp knfe
- If the fish is fresh from the water, scale it and remove the guts and innards.
- Remove the fins from the belly of the fish.
- Slice just behind the gills; this will help you when you remove the head later.
- Remove the dorsal fin by running the knife along the top of the fish.
- With the fish belly up, run your thumbs along the length of the spine between the skin and the ribs to ease the bones away from the flesh. Do this on both sides and pull out the head, spine and bones in one piece.
- Lay the fish skin side down on a hot barbecue and cook until the skin is charred. If the fish is particularly fleshy and thick, cover it with foil to help cook the otherside.
- Briefly turn the fish over to add some colour to the flesh before serving.