Foil-Packet Salmon With Lemon, Thyme, and Blueberry
Foil packets are one of the best—and easiest—ways to prepare juicy, flavorful salmon. I created this recipe with Coley Gaffney, my cast mate on “Food Network Star,” as part of a multicourse “dinner and a movie” event at Firelight Camps. We paired this dish with a documentary about wild salmon—”The Breach”—projected on the canvas of our lobby tent. In this dish, tart blueberries and honey are muddled together to create a violet-colored sauce that elevates the toothsome wild salmon. You can also substitute a spoonful of Basil–Sunflower Seed Pesto or Mamma’s Salsa Verde for the blueberry sauce.
Makes 4 servings
- 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus 2 lemons, each cut into 6 thin slices
- Four 6-ounce wild salmon fillets, frozen (see Note)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 thyme sprigs
Prep: In a lidded jar, combine the blueberries, honey, and lemon juice. Use the back of a spoon to gently smash and muddle the blueberries with the honey and lemon juice. Seal the jar tightly and then chill for up to 3 days.
Put four 12-inch-square sheets of aluminum foil on a work surface. Lay 3 lemon slices, with edges overlapping like dominoes, in the center of each foil sheet and top with a frozen salmon fillet. Season the salmon with the salt and lightly dust with pepper. Top each salmon fillet with 2 thyme sprigs.
Fold up two sides of the foil to meet in the middle and fold the edges over each other to seal the top. Then fold the two open ends of the foil to seal the packet. Seal the salmon packets in a ziplock bag and then chill for up to 24 hours.
Cook: Fire the grill to medium heat and position the grill grate 4 inches above the coals.
Using tongs, place the foil packets over direct heat and cook for 8 minutes. Using two forks, open the foil seal along the top, allowing the steam to escape and preventing the salmon from overcooking. Use a thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 140 F. An easier way to check for doneness is with a fork; the salmon should be firm and easily flake apart. (If you see white juice seeping out—a protein called albumin—it’s overcooked. But don’t worry, the blueberry syrup will moisten the fillet.)
Serve the salmon directly from the foil—fewer plates to clean!—and spoon the blueberries over the top. Store leftovers in an airtight container, chilled, for up to 1 day.
Note: Frozen seafood is oftentimes fresher than “fresh” seafood. When handled properly, it has been frozen within hours of harvest, preserving both the quality and flavor of the fish at its peak. Ask your fishmonger where the seafood is from and when it was harvested, or purchase directly from an online buying club such as Wild for Salmon, Alaska Gold, and Vital Choice. Your freezer will be stocked with last-minute meals!
Recipe reprinted with permission from “Feast by Firelight,” text and illustrations copyright 2018 by Emma Frisch. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright 2018 by Christina Holmes.