It’s spring! The sun is finally awakening from its chilled slumber, snows are melting and warm winds are ushering in the new season. It’s time to head outside, fire up the grill and invite your friends and family over for a barbecue. Did you know that when those coals heat up and the smell of your repast wafts through the air, you’ll be reviving a gastronomic practice thousands of years old? Recent archaeological finds have uncovered proof that some ancient people used this very method of preparing food. In honor of this discovery, we’re featuring a flavorful salmon recipe that will do your grill proud.
Some of the oldest evidence of grills comes from the Mycenaean civilization, the precursor to the classical Greek civilization. When 3,000-year-old clay cookware was uncovered at sites like Pylos and Mycenae, archaeologists were unsure exactly how the pieces were used. It was clear that the tray-like slabs were portable and probably used to cook meat, but they could not determine which side of the tray was the grilling surface. One researcher decided to unravel the mystery by actually using the cookware herself. Julie Hruby, an assistant professor of classics at Dartmouth College, along with ceramicist Connie Podleski, re-created the cookware and started grilling. They discovered that in order for the meat to cook completely, the coals must be placed inside the tray and the meat skewers placed directly over them (see image at right). This method produced a perfectly cooked piece of meat. Researchers believe the ancient grills were probably used by professional cooks preparing food for nobility who were traveling or on picnics.
Another recent find in Turkey revealed pieces of 2,200 year old grills from the ancient city of Assos in the northwestern province of Çanakkale’s Ayvacık district. Like the Mycenaean grills, they were portable and made of clay. Other cooking tools that were found at the site have led researchers to surmise that the people of Assos grilled rather than fried their food. The grills were all handmade and so had varying shapes, including both rectangular and round. Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Professor Nurettin Aslan explained:
We think people mostly grilled fish and meat on them, because we know the locals of Assos had never eaten fried foods. They had an abundance of fish because they were living on the coastline…. we found pretty functional plates, where fish was served, as well as hooks.
Both civilizations obviously enjoyed the ease and tasteful benefits of grilling their food. So the next time you fire up the grill, skip the hotdogs and try this salmon recipe. It’s the perfect dish to celebrate the warmer weather and the long-enduring barbecue.
Double K Grilled Salmon
*Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home.
- ¼ cup of packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup of soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons of unsweetened pineapple juice
- 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon of pepper
- ½ teaspoon of hot pepper sauce
- 1 salmon fillet (2 lbs.)
- In a small bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Pour 3/4 cup into a large resealable plastic bag; add salmon. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 1 hour, turning occasionally. Set aside remaining marinade for basting.
- Drain and discard marinade. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Place salmon skin side down on rack. Grill, covered, over medium heat or broil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Brush with reserved marinade. Grill or broil 15-20 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with a fork.