Edward Tippel III, executive sous chef at Stevenson's Skamania Lodge says roasted potlatch salmon is an ideal dish for large groups because of the volume of fish that can be cooked at one time.
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With the fishing season for summer chinook under way on the Columbia River, it seems fitting to explore how this Pacific Northwest delicacy can be cooked.
Edward Tippel III, executive sous chef at Stevenson's Skamania Lodge, offers a recipe that borrows from a cooking technique used by American Indian tribes.
For large gatherings, the tribes would weave fillets through salt-water soaked planks measuring five feet to six feet that they then placed near a large fire for cooking. Cooked this way, the fish takes on a smoky finish.
Since fires and cooking utensils of that scale aren't practical for most cooks, Tippel uses one-inch thick alder boards drilled with holes so that they can be hung around a metal cone that holds coals vertically.
This creates the same effect as the large fire, but it can be fashioned on top of a standard grill.
The Skamania Lodge dish, Wild Pacific Roasted Potlatch Chinook Salmon, is one of the resort's culinary high points, Tippel said.
"Columbia River chinook is the end all be all. It's the highlight of the season for us."
The cooking technique can be used for all types of salmon, but leaner fillets need to be basted three or four times during the cooking process.
"You need to keep it from becoming like canned tuna," Tippel added.
The planks that hold the salmon should be soaked no less than a half hour, though several hours is best.
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