Blazed salmon (loimulohi) is a traditional Finnish dish cooked over a campfire. You can find it in restaurants and local supermarkets, but nothing beats a fresh blazed salmon that is eaten outdoors. My first experience of cooking blazed salmon was years ago in a round Lappish hut that had an open fireplace in the middle. The memory is so lovely, that since then, whenever I make a campfire, I dream of blazed salmon.
Loimulohi is not a fast food, and preparing the fish can take as long as an hour. The food making process is more of a social event, when people gather around the campfire to have a chat and wait for the meal to be ready. Finns eat blazed salmon throughout the year – in the wintertime, I normally wrap it in flatbread and eat it right by the campfire, and in the summer I normally serve it with new potatoes, marinated herring and green salad.
The smaller fish that you see in the cover photo of this post is actually an Arctic Char, a salmon family fish that is native to Lapland. This Finnish blazed salmon recipe works with steelhead trout as well. Before cooking, the fish can be seasoned with herbs, spices, dressings or spirits. When I use other spices than salt, I might add wild herb salt, pour some gin on the fish, or sometimes even coat the fish with sweet chili sauce during the blazing process — use your imagination and try out your favorite salmon seasonings with this cooking technique! Blazed salmon is as its best when eaten immediately, but you can refrigerate it for up to two days and eat it cold.
Making a wooden board for the salmon
During the cooking process, the fish is attached to a sturdy wooden board with wooden nails. Almost any wood species will do, but I use birch, pine or spruce, as those are affordable and readily available here in Finland.
- Choose a board. Your board should be at least as wide as the fish fillet and preferably ~20cm longer than the fish.
- If the board is very rough, plane or sand it a little for a smooth surface.
- Drill several 6-8mm wide holes in the board where the fish fillet will be.
- Find a branch or a slice of wood that is ~1cm in thickness. Cut it in pieces and shape the pieces into wooden “nails”. Wooden nails are used for attaching the fish because metallic nails would get too hot and overcook the fish around them.
Traditionally loimulohi is eaten on rye bread, but try topping a green salad or a potato salad with it! If you are interested in other traditional Finnish salmon recipes, try out my Lohikeitto – the Finnish salmon soup or Graavilohi – Salt cured salmon recipes.
If you have any questions related to this dish, or have already tried my Finnish blazed salmon recipe, let me know in the comments!