Alaska Fish & Wildlife News
July 2006

Dishwasher Salmon

By Riley Woodford and ADF&G staff
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The salmon before wrapping. Riley Woodford photo.

It’s odorless, requires no oven, no pots or pans, and it works well for preparing Alaska’s favorite fish. What can it be? Dishwasher cookery! If you think it’s a joke, try it and laugh for joy.

How do you do it? Take one small salmon, or a piece of salmon, wrap it well with aluminum foil (use at least two sheets), find a suitable rack in the dishwasher, insert, close the door and start the machine. There is no reason why you can’t wash your dishes at the same time. Just be sure the salmon is tightly wrapped.

What happens? Depending on the model of the dishwasher and the cycle, the salmon is broiled, steamed and baked.

The results? One moist and tender salmon, ready for eating. Simply remove from the dishwasher, open the foil carefully, place on a platter and serve. There will be no cooking odors at all.

Note: Much depends on the strength of your dishwasher and the cycles you use, as well as the size of the fish. A certain amount of experimenting is necessary. If one full cycle is not enough, simply run it again. Vegetables can be wrapped up and cooked at the same time.

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In the "fish cooker." Riley Woodford photo

Of course, you can use your favorite touches, wrapping the fish with herbs such as dill or thyme, thin-sliced vegetables, lemon slices or special sauces. Salmon cooked in foil with fresh apricots, or oranges is excellent. The true secret, as with all foil cookery, is to make sure that the fish is tightly wrapped and does not leak. And it takes a little faith, like the first time you baked a turkey in a brown paper bag.

Epilogue: I found this recipe in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game cookbook: “Bear soup and Salmon Mousse.” The cookbook was produced in the 1980s and included recipes from many different Fish and Game employees, family members, and other contributors. Although it’s unofficial, former Juneau writer Sheila Nickerson, then the editor of the department’s magazine, is credited with this recipe.

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Salmon: Baked and steamed. Riley Woodford photo

I was intrigued, but the other members of the Alaska Wildlife News team thought this was ridiculous. “You will be wasting a good piece of salmon,” was the general outcry. I grew up eating plenty of meals cooked in foil, hobo dinners, we called them. I know if a well-wrapped entrée can withstand campfire coals, it can take a dishwasher cycle. Besides, why wouldn’t it work?

The ground truthing proved that this does work. I seasoned a one-inch-thick fillet with lemon pepper and wrapped in five layers of foil – I did not want to taste any detergent – and ran it through the standard cycle with a load of dishes The salmon came out rare, which is how most people like it. I prefer it medium, so I’d give it the heavy duty pot scrubber mode next time.

Riley Woodford is the editor of Alaska Wildlife News

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