Salmon Dinner on a Grand Canyon Raft Adventure
written by Will Spaziani
Eating Fish In The Grand Canyon
Rainbow and brown trout were introduced to the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam in 1964. The ‘new’ Colorado river is a nearly perfect trout habitat, with cold water, ample food, and year round flows. Legend has it that Grand Canyon river guests used to dine on fresh caught trout. Guides and guests would rely on one another to catch enough fish to feed the group during one of the less ‘rapidy’ days. Trout up to 5 pounds were caught from the raft, to be cleaned, and cooked that night in camp.
Where Does Our Salmon Come From?
Nowadays we no longer count on eating trout. Instead we bring big, beautiful salmon filets. It is best to begin meal prep for any meal with high quality ingredients. AzRA gets its salmon from Troller Point Fisheries, a family owned company in Northwestern Washington state. Troller Point catches all their fish on a line, trolled behind their boats off the coast of Alaska. They process and flash freeze all their fish on the boat to provide a phenomenal product! Visit their website if you want to get a feel for their passion.
Cooking Salmon Filets
On our Grand Canyon river trips, many guides choose to do the ‘popcorn’ method when cooking the salmon meal. This method is a great way to cook whole filets, or individually portioned salmon steaks. Start with two identical pieces of tin foil, a bit larger than your filets. Next, fold a little rim into your base piece of foil to hold in liquids. Add a stripe of olive oil to the base foil, then place your fish filet on the base, skin side down. Splash ample lemon juice and olive oil to the top of your filet, then spice the whole thing to your taste. I recommend dill, thyme, salt, and garlic. Garnish with some lemon rounds, and seal your foil packet with the top piece. Try to make the folds as clean and neat as possible around the perimeter of your base and top.
Cook skin side down, over medium/high heat, on your barbeque, or skillet. You can also simply bake the salmon stuffed foil packet in your oven at 420 degrees fahrenheit. Your filet should be looking pretty much done when the foil starts to bubble up: just like Jiffy Pop popcorn over the campfire! Personally, I enjoy eating the vitamin-loaded skin. You can easily achieve a nice crispy skin on the barbeque or skillet.
For side dishes we enjoy a quinoa pilaf that is very simple and delicious with our salmon. Add 1 part quinoa to a pot, with 2 parts water, and stir occasionally while bringing to a boil. Once the water boils, turn off the heat, and add a well fitting lid. In about 20-30 minutes your quinoa should be ready. (This process works for rice too) Next, to complete your quinoa pilaf add white beans, kalamata olives, olive oil, chopped kale, and spice to the preferred taste.
Quinoa Pilaf Ingredients
- White Beans
- Kalamata Olives
- Olive Oil
- Chopped Kale
Spinach and Goat Cheese salad
Finally, with our salmon and quinoa we provide a hearty spinach salad. Topped with goat cheese, mandarin oranges, and candied pecans this salad is always a crowd favorite. We dress this salad with a sweet, creamy Raspberry Vinaigrette.
A Note From AzRA
Thanks so much for tuning into our monthly AzRA Food Blogs. This will be the last food blog for the 2022 winter, as we’re quickly approaching the 2022 River Season. Yay! Please follow AzRA’s social media accounts and keep an eye out for more Food Blogs next winter! Clink the link to find us @instagram or on FaceBook.
About the Author
AzRA guide, Will Spaziani is an avid fisherman. He once caught two rainbow trout at the same time down at 12 mile camp on the river left.