Introduction: Campfire Planked Salmon & Bucket Potatoes
“Cooking and eating food outdoors makes it taste infinitely better than the same meal prepared and consumed indoors.” ― Fennel Hudson
If you are like me you just love camping and being outdoors. There really is nothing better than a delicious meal and a good company by the campfire!
This summer I heard about a unique fish cooking technique that required next to no work and equipment. The old fella who told me this said it is called planked salmon and it originates probably from Scandinavia. This method sees attaching a fish to a plank with wooden nails and slowly cooking it by an open fire. I was a bit sceptical in the beginning but when he demonstrated it to me my mind was blown. The idea was very intriguing and I immediately started generating ideas how to make this method camping-friendly.
The same wise man also told me how he used to cook potatoes with his friends using only a metal bucket. I could not believe how many awesome tricks I was learning from him. I wanted to try out all of them. One evening I, my brother and my cat Nurris decided to go on a little hike to make a campfire and to try out these two meals ourselves.
The result is here!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
As I said there is not much you need to try this out.
For planked salmon, you will need of course salmon (or any other fish that you like), an axe or a bigger knife and a log. The log´s diameter has to be same or bigger than the width of the fish. It can always be bigger but bigger logs are harder to split especially if you only have a knife to use.
You can also make the cooking plank out of a wooden board if you have one lying around. Just drill rows of holes in it and use branches to stick the fish to the board. Use a hand saw to cut a V-shape on one end of the board to stick it to the ground.
For bucket potatoes, you will only need an old metal paint bucket and potatoes. Be sure to make a fire in the bucket before actually use it for cooking. This way the paint and any other chemicals are burned off and you are left with healthy and tasty potatoes. It is also a good idea to give the bucket a light scrub just to be 100% sure.
Of course, some salt and lemon juice for the fish and butter for the potatoes will make the dinner complete.
Step 2: Preparing the Log
Using the axe split the log exactly in the middle. Try to get it as flat as possible and watch out for splinters ;)
When looking for a log try to find one that is freshly cut. Dry wood is much harder to split.
Sharpen one edge so that the log could be pounded in the earth next to the campfire.
Step 3: Nails and Attaching the Fish
Now it is time to start the fire. Put the potatoes in the bucket and flip it upside-down. Build the fire around the bucket.
Using the axe or the knife make around six or so wooden nails from the same log that was left over from the previous step. I found that a sharp axe works really well for this due to the bigger mass. Though, be careful not to cut off your fingers while doing that. I know you are hungry but take your time!
Lay the salmon on the halved log and salt it. Tap the end of your knife into the wood through the fish. This creates a small hole that makes it easier for the nails penetrate into the log. Take the knife out and tap in the nails with the other end of the axe.
Step 4: Wait and Enjoy the Scenery
Tap the log into the ground about 20-30 cm from the fire. Alternatively, you could use other logs or stones to support it when the earth is tougher. You should be able to hold your hand in front of the fish for at least 10 seconds. The idea here is to slowly cook the fish not to grill it.
Now comes the hard part of waiting for the food to be ready. Enjoy the nature and keep an eye on your cat in case she tries to steal a bite from the salmon!
Step 5: Enjoy
A good way to know when the fish is ready is when the meat easily comes off from the skin. The potatoes are ready much faster than the fish. Depending on the size of the fish it takes around 40-80 minutes to cook it. It is better to bit overcook the fish rather than to eat it raw - unless of course, you really want a tapeworm! For the potatoes, it takes around 20 minutes. We messed the potatoes up because we cooked them exactly as long as the fish. Ideally, they should be soft on the inside and the shell should be nice and crispy not completely burnt like ours. But you can not get everything right on the first try, can you?
All in all, I would say that these two methods are super cool and you should definately try them out! I can assure you that the salmon was absolutely luscious. Even my brother said "I usually do not like fish but man, this is tasty".
Let me know if you have any questions!