This post is made in partnership with Kvarøy Arctic Salmon
As the daylight lingers alongside warmer days, we find ourselves inching closer to Midsummer, the summer solstice, which is marked with celebrations across Europe. In Norway, it’s observed on the 23rd June (the eve) and referred to as Sankthans (St. Johns) – a commemoration of both folklore and Christianity, where the old tradition of celebrating the summer solstice blended into the newer tradition of honoring the birth of John the Baptist.
While the name, Sankthans, still reflects the religious view of the day, other elements, such as the Midsummer bonfire to chase away the spirits, have held fast over the years. Bonfires, both small and large, are most prominent along the Norwegian coast and are a sure sign that Midsummer has arrived. There’s just something magical about having a fire as the centerpiece, which you can cook with, and sit around for warmth and good old storytelling.
To mark Midsummer, I’m sharing this recipe for plank salmon “plankelaks” cooked alongside the flames of the fire. This ancient Viking method of cooking fish is incredibly simple and grounding, since you can cook the entire meal using only what nature provides. It’s also a technique that results in a juicy, crispy, and flavorful salmon with all the scenic ambiance that makes you want to sit still and enjoy the natural surroundings as the sun never quite fades away into the evening.
For this recipe, you don’t need anything more than some sea salt because the salmon from Kvarøy Arctic speaks for itself in quality and taste. A side of flatbread, lomper (soft potato flatbreads), or a couple of potatoes and some herb sauce will make this a complete meal. Find yourself a wood plank and some sticks to whittle down for pegs. You can also use clean nails in place of the wooden pegs, if necessary. As always, take caution when cooking with fire and never leave it unattended, always follow proper fire etiquette to ensure an unforgettable experience.
~ Plank Salmon (Plankelaks) ~
Serves 6 to 8
For the plank salmon:
- 1 wood plank (see below)
- Sticks for cooking
- 1 whole Kvarøy Arctic salmon filet
- Sea salt
For the herb sauce:
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons of chopped herbs such as chives, dill, and/or parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
The plank should be around ¾-inch to 1-inch-thick (2 to 2.5 cm) and be large enough for the filet with some space around the edges. Toward the middle of the plank, carve four small holes, the thickness of a little finger, for the wood pegs to hold the fish. The holes should be measured against the fish, with 2 holes across from each other below the top of the fish, 2 holes across each other above the bottom of the fish, and 1 hole, if necessary, toward the bottom of the tail.
Prepare 5 wood pegs by removing the bark from 5 sticks and whittling them down. The pegs need to fit inside the holes in the wood planks, so the bottom of each should be slightly thinner than the thickness of a little finger.
Carefully place the filet, skin side down, onto the wood plank. Attach the filet to the plank by carefully twisting or hammering the pegs into the plank with the back of a knife. Generously season with sea salt. Place the plank upright next to the fire, with the tail side upwards, using large stones for support. Cook for about 30 to 45 minutes then flip the plank vertically to ensure even cooking. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes or until the flesh is bright and pulls off easily.
While the salmon is cooking, prepare the herb sauce. Using a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and season to taste with the salt and pepper.
Serve the salmon straight away with the herb sauce.