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By: Galley Guy, Greg Nicoll

Jim Grove and Robert HelmsJim Grove and Robert Helms keep a vigilant eye on the thermometer.

It was during our annual trip to Nova Scotia that I was made aware of the special recipe for cooking salmon that was being held very tightly by an individual in Chester Nova Scotia. It was said that for several years this individual would show up at parties with this cooked salmon that became the centre of attention. Several people tried to pry the recipe from him - or was it the secret ingredients - or maybe some magic dust - that made this salmon so sought after?

One of our Galley Guy associates, Jim Grove was also on this list of seekers wanting to pry the recipe from Robert Helms, but to no avail. Then he had the idea of telling Mr. Helms that the Galley Guys were coming from town, and that he would become famous across the land if he would share this recipe with them. It took much coaxing and perhaps several glasses of wine before Mr. Helms relented and accepted the invitation.

Salmon FilletsOn a brilliant summer’s day during the Chester Race Week, we met Mr. Helms at his summer home and he meticulously took us through the procedures and the craftsmanship that would bring forth this magnificent dinner. Mr. Helms had spent many years as a wine aficionado and travelled the world living in many countries including France, Switzerland, Italy and Britain (although we are not sure about the contribution to fine dining gleaned from the restaurants of the UK).

The salmon fillets after approximately 4 hours showing the moisture draining from the salmon.

Here is the recipe: Wash and pat dry the salmon fillet, in this case we used an Atlantic farmed salmon. The salmon was laid in a pan with sides. Then, lay on enough kosher salt to fully cover this magnificent looking salmon and enough sugar to fully coat the salt. The longer you leave the cure, the more “crust” the salmon will develop. Crust being the very dried out layer - 4-6 hours works.

Our fillet rested in the pan for just over four hours and during that time much of the water in the fish drained to the sides. The salt and sugar coating were rinsed off and the salmon was patted dry again with a paper towel. The wood fire was lit, and in this case, we used a Weber Green Egg charcoal grill. Sprinkled on top of the charcoal were Applewood chips for a great smoked flavor. Now this is the tricky part; the salmon is cooked for 20 to 24 minutes at 80°C. Keeping the temperature down took a vigilant eye. The salmon is ready when the protein starts to bubble on the surface. Remove the salmon and let it rest until it reaches room temperature.

Greg NicollIt has been Mr. Helms experience that Canadians prefer their salmon cooked a bit more than Americans and many Europeans, and so he advises to go the full 24 minutes.

Mr. Helms then pairs this delicacy with a mild oak chardonnay as he feels the rich flavours of the salmon require an equally bold wine to complement it.

Galley Guy Greg Nicoll makes the presentation of the salmon main course to some hungry sailors after a long day on the water.

Our salmon was served to a very appreciative gathering of sailors at the end of a long race day and the complements to the chef were unanimous. Our great thanks and appreciation to Mr. Helms for sharing this wonderful recipe!