Campfire Dinner: Aromatic Salmon Pouches


Late summer and early fall are some of the best times to enjoy the great outdoors. There are fewer mosquitoes, the sun is less intense, and the weather is mild. Day are still warm but no longer hot and humid, and nights are cooler and more comfortable, sometimes even a bit chilly. Conditions are perfect for a campfire.

My friend Juliah and I made this dish on a recent camping trip in the California redwoods. It's an easy meal to prepare while camping, either on-site or in advance. Just add the contents to a foil pouch and cook them in the campfire when you're ready for dinner.

We used fresh turmeric (the antioxidant, anti-cancer super spice) because it was available at the Berkley Bowl when we went shopping. If you don't have it, use ground turmeric instead, which is widely available.

Fresh turmeric
Fresh turmeric grated

If your lemon isn't organic, omit the zest.

Cold-pressed coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 wild Alaskan salmon fillet, cut into 3- to 6-ounce portions
1 red bell pepper, cut into long, thin strips
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 3-inch pieces and split lengthwise into halves or quarters
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 3-inch piece of ginger root, cut into long, thin strips
Sea salt
Freshly ground peppercorn
1 organic lemon, zest and juice
1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric or 1/4 tsp ground turmeric

For each pouch, start with a piece of aluminum foil about a foot long and spread some coconut oil in the middle.

Add the aromatics to a medium bowl: red pepper, lemongrass, onion, and ginger. Season them with salt and pepper and toss them together. Divide the mixture in half, and distribute one half evenly among the pieces of foil.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and turmeric with enough salt and pepper to season the whole piece of salmon. Stir in just enough coconut oil or olive oil to make it into a paste. Spread it all over both sides of the salmon pieces and place one piece of salmon on each piece of foil, on top of the aromatics. Divide the remaining aromatic mixture among the pieces of salmon, arranging them on top.

Lengthwise, fold the bottom third of the foil down and the top third up to meet in the middle. Fold the top edges down a centimeter, and then another, to create a seal, then fold the flap down flat.  Fold the right and left sides over the contents and in toward the center. Keep the salmon pouches cold until you're ready to cook them.

When you're ready to eat, prepare red hot coals. Move any active flames aside and place the salmon pouches directly on the hot coals.

Leave them there about 10 minutes, until the salmon is just cooked through. Do not over-cook the salmon. Discard the lemongrass and cool slightly before eating.