Yield: 8 persons
– Fresh bay leaves – 4 packs of 3/4 ounce
– Lemons – 6-7 pieces, sliced into thin rounds
– Salmon fillet with skin – about 3 pounds, centre-cut
– Salt – coarse, kosher
– Olive oil – a few teaspoons, for drizzling only
– Kitchen string
– Fish grilling basket (a large one)
Prepare several pieces of kitchen string with the length of 24 inches. Set them side by side on a flat surface, at about 1 1/2 inches distance from one another. Next, place a layer of bay leaves to match the size of the fish fillet. Place the lemon slices in rows, over the bay leaves.
Next, sprinkle some coarse salt over the fish skin. Add some freshly ground black pepper, as it will give a nice aroma to the fish. Carefully place the fish, skin side down, over the lemon slices. Sprinkle the other side of the fish with salt and pepper and drizzle it with olive oil. Be generous with the oil, as it will help the fish cook nicely. Top it with lemon slices and overlap with bay leaves. Tie the strings as tightly as you can, in order to secure the bay leaves and the lemon slices around the fish. Place the fish into the fish grilling basket. It is possible that the basket doesn’t close completely, but this is not a problem.
You can prepare the fish ahead and let it sit in the fridge for two hours. If you do so, make sure you bring the fish to the room temperature before grilling.
Prepare the barbecue to medium-high heat and grill the fish until firm to touch. Check it with a thermometer. It should register 135 F to be good. When it reaches this temperature, hold the basket sides together and flip it. Grill the fish for about 20 minutes on each side. When done, transfer the fish from the basket to a platter, making sure that the string knots are up. Untie and remove the strings, remove bay leaves and lemons from the top side, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve it hot.
A little bit about Bay Leaves (Laurus nobilis) …
Some herbs are almost useless in their dried state. Such leafy herbs have volatile oils that evaporate rapidly, leaving these herbs depleted of their best flavors. Use them dried and you won’t feel anything else than a dusty and unpleasant texture.
Other herbs, on the contrary, appear to preserve their properties when dried. Bay leaves belong into this category, together with rosemary, oregano and marjoram. Their aromatic compounds are less volatile, due to the fact that these herbs grow in hot climate. These conditions make them retain as much moisture as possible from their environment. You can store bay leaves in a cool, dry place and enjoy their flavor for several good months.
There’s another thing to keep in mind when choosing to use fresh bay leaves versus dried ones.
I love adding a bay leaf to my bechamel sauce. Once I made the mistake to add a fresh leaf instead of a dried one. I though that could only be for the better. In fact, it was a terrible mistake that made my sauce taste like medicine. How can you possibly explain that?
Well, store bought dried bay leaves in this country seem to come from Turkey or from other countries in that area, while fresh bay leaves come from California. The two types of bat leaves are different, hence the difference in taste and flavor. California bay leaves have a much stronger eucalyptus flavor, so they can easily dominate a dish if you don’t pay attention. Turkish bay leaves are less aromatic.
Now if you’d like to order bay leaf plants in Canada, you can clip, dry and store them yourself to easily have on hand when you need them
In closing, you should definitely use bay leaves for this grilled salmon dish. Only use dry leaves. Make sure you store you leaves in the freezer to maintain their flavor.