For Christmas this past year, my husband and I decided to give experiences instead of gifts. For his dad and his dad’s wife, who love boating and eating salmon, we bought tickets to the Tillicum Village Salmon Bake on Blake Island. We took the 45-minute trip aboard an Argosy Cruise vessel on a sunny Sunday and enjoyed the narration of the history of Tillicum Village, Blake Island, and its native tribes.
Upon arrival, we took the shell-covered and daffodil-lined pathway up to the longhouse where we were given a cupful of steaming clams in nectar. We tossed the shells onto the ground and crushed them with our toes, participating in the village’s sustainable landscaping.
Inside the longhouse, we watched a whole salmon being cooked over an alder-wood fire on cedar stakes in the traditional Northwest Coast Indian style. We were then escorted into an auditorium where we feasted on the salmon and accompanying side dishes like wild rice and mixed greens with blue cheese and dried cranberries.
As we finished the meal, the lights dimmed and we watched a stage show featuring the spirit of the Pacific Northwest’s coastal tribe. While interesting and captivating, being the foodie I am, I was most interested in learning how to prepare the salmon. We were given a demonstration following the show.
The native chef fit the cedar stake over the center of the whole fileted king salmon.
Then laced smaller stakes through the flesh to hold the salmon open and give it the most surface to catch the heat of the alder flames.
This is a technique, if feeling ambitious, my husband and I might be able to handle on a camping trip. Regardless of whether or not we use the preparation, I enjoyed learning a traditional method for cooking salmon.
After the demonstration and a short stroll around the grounds, the four of us headed back to the boat, gliding through the Puget Sound and Elliott Bay returning the Seattle waterfront. All of us truly enjoyed the holiday gift.