Salmon Dinner from the Bathtub | Yankee Classic Article
2) Rocks. These should be cobbles, granite, brick, or other explosion-proof material. They shouldn’t weigh much more than five or six pounds, since you must handle them when they’re hot.
3) A support for the fish. This could be a section of bookshelf wrapped well in tinfoil, a large grille from a barbecue unit, or any big sheet of something rigid that isn’t poison and doesn’t weigh much. You need it to support the fish while it cooks and while it cools. It needn’t be exactly fish length, especially if you wind tight enough with
4) Cheesecloth, lots of cheesecloth.
You will need the seasonings that are commonly used with poached fish — lemons, peppercorns, mustard and/ or coriander seeds, celery, carrots, onions, parsley, and, of course, white wine. You can make a proper court bouillon if you are feeling ambitious, but a big fish means a lot of liquid, and it ‘s not really necessary. You will, however, need at least enough of the seasonings to partially stuff the fish.
Be sure there are plenty of tea towels, potholders, and similar articles on hand. Start thinking about a presentation platter. We were able to use the marble top of a Victorian hall table, but only because someone strong enough to lift it happened to be handy. Having someone strong and long armed to help is a good idea in general. Otherwise, just lowering the supported salmon into its waiting bathtub takes a bit of engineering.
Begin by putting the rocks (enough to pave the tub by about one third) into a cold oven. Turn the heat to 200° and bake for 20 minutes. Raise the heat to 375° and bake at least 1-1/2 hours more.
Heat several large pots of water while you are heating the rocks. Put seasonings in if you’re inclined toward court bouillon. Bathtubs and giant fish vary so much that it’s hard to suggest quantities, but a four-foot fish in a five-foot tub will require about 10 to 15 gallons of liquid, 3 pounds each of carrots and celery, 5 or 6 big onions, 8 lemons, 2 bunches of parsley, 5 or 6 bay leaves, and 1/4 cup peppercorns.
Of course you won’t need nearly so much if you just use the seasonings to stuff the fish. This “stuffing” is partly to provide flavor and partly to keep the top and bottom of the fish slightly ajar so the heat can get all the way to the backbone from both directions.
Lay out four overlapping long pieces of cheesecloth crisscross to make a square and lay the fish thereon. Insert the vegetables, cut in rough chunks. Completely wrap the fish in the cheesecloth, pulling it tight. Tie it in a few places with kitchen twine. This binding up will help the fish keep its shape during the cooking process.
Put the fish on its support and let it come to room temperature.