Tillicum Village Salmon Bake
Salmon has been a primary food staple of the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years. Without any knowledge of pottery-the Coast Salish people used what was available to them for cooking. Cedar boxes and baskets, rock ovens and sticks became the vessels for various fire cooking methods for Coast Salish. The tradition of the Indian salmon bake has deep roots in the Northwest. For centuries, Native Americans have cooked salmon on a wood frame before an open fire. The practice is so widespread that no individual tribe lays claim to the technique, but typically, a straight, strong branch of cedar or ironwood is split at one end, then the boned salmon is fitted into the split. To hold the fish flat so it will cook evenly, additional sticks are woven over and under the salmon. The fish was leaned toward a fire and slow roasted.
This centuries-old tradition continues today at Tillicum Village, where we have been cooking salmon in this method for nearly 50 years. Remember – to the Native peoples this is not how salmon WAS cooked, but how it IS cooked. The flavor of salmon baked around alder wood fires is unlike anything you have ever tasted. Taking approximately one hour to bake slowly to perfection, the salmon cooked this way retain their moisture and take on a wonderful mild flavor unique to this style of cooking.
The Tillicum Village feast begins with a sampling of another Northwest delight, steamed clams in a tasty nectar broth. The Coast Salish People would gather clams at low tide. They’d build a fire on the beach to heat rocks and then drop the hot rocks and clams into a water-filled cooking basket. The rocks boiled the water and cooked them perfectly. At Tillicum we add onions and seasoning to our broth but want you to enjoy this starter as you enter the longhouse.
After eating the clams, Tillicum Village guests are encouraged to drop the empty shells on the pathway and crush them before continuing inside. Be sure to take a moment and watch the salmon cooking as you enter the lobby area. Click here to see the remainder of the items on the Tillicum Village Menu.
For guests interested in a cruise and dining experience - just on the water - please join us aboard our dinner boat, the Royal Argosy for a wonderful Northwest brunch, lunch or dinner!