Bea wants to go ziplining.

“Come on!” she cajoles. “It’ll be fun! It’ll be empowering! You’ll be so glad you did it!”

I don’t know. I’m afraid of heights. I’m afraid of breaking bones. Heck, I’m afraid to drive on the Beltway … imagine the terror ziplining would inspire!

No, I prefer my risky business in the kitchen. Like Sunday, when the husband and I decided to take advantage of a grocery special on whole salmon. Harris Teeter was selling these beauties — scaled, gutted and beheaded — for $3.99 a pound:

salmon whole

“Let’s get one!” the husband said. “You can stuff it!”

Now, I’ve never cooked a whole fish before. I usually read up on new techniques and cooking methods before diving into the culinary deep-end. And even with the Harris Teeter special, botching this salmon would be an expensive mistake.

But the salmon looked (and smelled) so pristine. We hadn’t grilled since the beginning of June. I had an overgrown herb garden.

Hmmmm …

“Let’s do it!” I said.

So we did:

salmon plated

Stuffed salmon. Turns out it was a risk worth taking.

(Maybe I should rethink ziplining …)

Risk-Free Salmon

Yeah, yeah. This is probably not the way a trained artisan would stuff a fish. But it worked for us, and the results were delicious: Silky, delicate flesh; a tasty stuffing of herbs and breadcrumbs; a hint of smoke. Use whatever herbs you like. I had an overgrown garden, so I grabbed lots of dill, basil, chives and lavendar. This fish made 8-10 servings and was wonderful the next night — although you have to eat carefully; there are bones. We served it with basmati rice and a celery root slaw.

  •  1 10-pound salmon, scaled, gutted & cleaned
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped herbs
  • 1/3-1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil

Open the fish. If necessary, slice it a bit deeper so you can get it to lay as flat as possible:

salmon butterflied

Douse the flesh with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix your herbs and breadcrumbs with enough olive oil to form a paste. Season with salt and pepper, then place all of the mixture along one side of the salmon:

salmon stuffing

Bring the unstuffed side of your salmon up over the stuffed side. Using kitchen twine, tie the fish together in 1-inch intervals.

salmon tied

Rub the salmon all over with olive oil, salt and pepper, then wrap tightly in aluminum foil.

Start your grill. We have a gas grill, so I preheated it for 15-20 minutes. Place the salmon on the grill, then adjust the heat so it hovers right at 400 degrees:

salmon on grill

Close the grill’s lid and grill for an hour.

After an hour, carefully(!!) unwrap the foil. Close the grill top again and grill for an additional 10 minutes:

salmon done

When done, move the fish to a serving platter. Remove the twine, and peel off the skin. Garnish with nasturtium blossoms (that overgrown herb garden again) and serve alongside basmati rice:

salmon plated

Slice crosswise to serve. You’ll be able to lift the spine right out although some small bones will remain. Serves 8-10 people.