Loimulohi: glow baked salmon
Loimulohi: glow baked salmon (loimu=glow, lohi=salmon) or glow baked salmon of the Nordic region is another fantastic unique menu item in Finland, it is so natural and relatively easy way to cook a salmon without the need for cooking facilities.
When preparing to cook the Loimulohi in this “Slow-Glow-Method” the basic requirements are; a good size salmon 1-10kg, a sharp knife (relative to the fish size), a clean wooden blank , and 8 x 2inch nails per fillet, or chicken wire netting, big enough to sandwich the open fish fillets inside the netting (approx 1m x 1m).
How to glow bake salmon
Start a reasonable size fire with sufficient firewood to last half hour (relative to the fish size), build the fire to create sufficient amount of hot glowing coals that will radiate heat. If it is a windy day, then you need to use common sense where the fire is placed, some wind protection/shelter is needed so the radiated heat will be focused on the cooking of the fish, e.g. make use of the land contours, boulder, rocks, log etc.
Whether using the chicken wire or the wooden blank, the fish needs to be cleaned, and filleted, and it may be sprinkled with salt and allowed to season for 1-2 hours in a 0-4’C cool area, if so desired. The salmon fillets are then either nailed to the wooden blank, or sandwiched inside the chicken wire, so that the fillets stay flat, the flesh side facing the fire heat.
The distance between the fire and the salmon is very important, cooking a Loimulohi is not meant to be a quick method of cooking. This is a slow method of cooking, and the result is a fantastic golden color of the cooked salmon surface. To get the distance right, make sure the fire has sufficient coals that will continue to radiate heat for 30 min, you may add some wood to the fire, but it’s not the only source of heat. Check the temperature at where the salmon fillets are going to be placed by placing your hand there, and hold it there for about 15 seconds, you should be able to hold it there without burning your hand.
Use a natural boulder/rocks to prop the wood blank/chicken wire frame, place it almost vertical facing towards the fire, make sure it is stable and secure.
So what is so special about Loimulohi?
Firstly it is the experience of catching a fine fresh Salmon fish caught in the wild. Secondly the slow cooking method of Loimulohi works well with a large Salmon filet that has a high fat content, it caramelizes the flesh to a golden color. Thirdly the golden caramelized salmon flesh is absolutely delicious to the taste buds.
The heat will continue to build gradually and caramelize the surface of the Loimulohi fish fillet, after about 1 hr – 1 1/2 hours. Salmon fillet has a lot of fat, it will start to melt, so make sure you turn sides (top-down) occasionally, so the natural fat runs back onto the fillet to moisten and caramelize the flesh.
When the surface of the Loimulohi filet is a golden color, and the aroma is delicious, then is the time to enjoy. There are many combinations that you can serve the Loimulohi or glow baked salmon with, if you are camping at a lake in Lapland, then perhaps you brought some new potatoes along to your camp, if not then enjoy the delicious flavors of the Nordic salmon with some fresh greens, cucumbers, tomato and maybe a splash of olive oil and lemon juice or your favored dressing that you enjoy, with some unleavened potato flat bread (traditional potato Rieska), or some wholesome fresh rye bread.
One of the best traditional wild outdoors cooking methods
The traditional Loimulohi caught and prepared in the heart of the Nordic Nature in Finland is really a fine sample of how food was prepared and enjoyed after it was caught hundreds of years ago, there is no pretense or facade.