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Baked Salmon (Paleolithic)

This recipe is in categories Baking, Main courses, Prehistoric,
About this recipe:
Difficulty: 5
Comments: Although this is a simple recipe, putting the fish into the fire and taking it out can be dangerous. The clay case is very hot when it is removed from the fire and should cool a little before it is opened.
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 2-3 hours

In prehistoric times, most cooking was done on open fires, The open fires were often made in shallow pits to conserve the heat and protect from the wind. Cooking methods used easy to obtain items such as plant leaves, grass and stones.

Fish, both freshwater and seawater, were a very common feature of prehistoric diets. If fish gets too hot, their meat is easily charred. An effective method that prevented this was to cover the fish entirely in wet clay, then place it in a hot fire. This podcast describes the methods they would have used to do this in late Paleolithic times (around 15,000-10,000 years ago).

To cook this dish yourself follow the link to the modern version.

For images of the cooking process see our Baking salmon image gallery

With thanks to Steve and Jo Parish  of Past Alive for their help with this podcast


Making and cooking it
  1. Gut the fish
  2. Take some short sticks, lay these on the ground and cross them (this will make a firm base for the clay)
  3. With the clay make a base that covers the sticks and is wide and long enough to support the salmon
  4. Place freshly pulled grass or leaves on top of the clay base
  5. Place the salmon on the grass and clay base
  6. Cover the fish with more grass or leaves, taking care to ensure that it is fully covered (this will protect the fish and keep it moist)
  7. Cover the fish with clay making sure it is completely sealed
  8. Place in the ashes of a hot fire, cover with more twigs
  9. Leave in the fire for at least two hours
  10. Check the clay has baked by tapping with a branch
  11. Use firm branches to remove it from the fire
  12. Leave the clay to cool, then crack open with a flint knife
  13. The salmon should be ready to eat