Salmon Dinner from the Bathtub | Yankee Classic Article
I will spare you the details of the misunderstanding. Suffice it to say that the project really began in the laundry room of a comfortable, old-fashioned Maine mansion. In the classic deep double sink, embedded like a pair of champagne bottles in outsize buckets of ice, were two large fish. Two very large fish. One of them measured three feet eight inches. The other was longer. Both were commensurably plump.
The monsters were destined to become cold salmon with green mayonnaise for 70 wedding guests. It was my job to cook them. It was not required that I cook them whole. It wasn’t even suggested, but “the devil made me do it. ”
After all, it stands to reason that anyone not actually possessed would have poached the salmon in pieces, then reassembled the parts. With a bit of decor in appropriate places nobody would be the wiser.
But there’s something about the challenge of cooking creatures that size that excites the latent vanity of even a modest chef. When the chef is not any too modest, and when her employer is also a skilled cook and contemplator of challenges, the result is bound to be something like Poached Salmon a la Bathtub.
The fish were served proudly seamless, glistening with aspic in an enormous wreath of nasturtium flowers — a tour de force of no mean proportions for which we garnered much congratulation.
The inspiration came from dimly remembered stories about how the Indians lived. According to the leader of my old Brownie troop, the Indians had cooked large objects in hollowed logs filled with water. They heated the water by dropping hot stones into it.
We did exactly the same thing, lowering rather than dropping the stones in deference to the bathtub, and adding wine and lemons and such, which the Indians did not.
If you acquire a large fish and wish to follow our example, you will need:
1) A bathtub. It has to be a porcelain one, uncracked and unchipped in the business section, both so that you can scrub it clean enough and so that it won’t melt when you put the stones in. It should be small so as to require the smallest amount of water and seasonings. And it should be close to the kitchen for obvious reasons. (Allow me, on the basis of experience, to suggest that a bathtub on the second floor at the top of a narrow flight of rickety stairs is not a good idea.)