Barbecued salmon wrapped in vine leaves
So simple it barely constitutes a recipe. When cooked over glowing embers, the leafy sarcophagus serves a dual purpose, helping to hold the fish together as you turn it on the grill and allowing the flesh to steam gently within. — 1 x 3-3.5kg salmon, scaled and gutted
— 2 unwaxed lemons, thinly sliced — a handful of parsley stalks — approximately 30-35 vine leaves, depending on size (fig leaves work well too) Rinse the salmon and leave it to dry a little, then season the cavity and stuff it with the lemon slices and parsley stalks.
Wash and pat dry the leaves, and snip off the stalks. Soak some butcher’s twine in water.
Roll out a length of greaseproof paper a little longer than the salmon and lay on it an overlapping leaf ‘carpet’ for the fish, long enough to cover its body but leave its head and tail uncovered.
Lay the fish on the leaves and place an overlapping length of leaves on the side facing up.
Fold these leaves underneath, around the fish, and secure with the soaked twine, ensuring there are no gaps. This can be a fiddly task and is best done with two sets of hands, tying a butcher’s knot.
To cook the fish on the barbecue, the trick is low and slow – over white-hot embers, not flames, taking approximately 45-50 minutes and turning once halfway through. Oil the grill bars to prevent the leaves from sticking and remember that slightly undercooked salmon is preferable to overcooked.
The tip of a knife inserted into the thickest part of the fish should feel slightly warm to the touch and will allow you to have a peek to see if the flesh looks opaque.
Once cooked, remove the charred leaves and skin to reveal beautifully pink, moist flesh, and arrange the salmon on a bed of fresh leaves.
This is delicious with the classic French sauce verte (a gently flavoured, herby green mayonnaise) and charred lemon halves.