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 V.15 No.50 | December 14 - 20, 2006 

Ask Chef Boy Ari

Wrapping about Salmon

Dear CBA,

I used to cook salmon on the grill, wrapped in tinfoil and soaking in a marinade. I’ve recently heard that cooking with tinfoil is bad for you, and now I don’t have a go-to way to grill salmon. What do you suggest?

—Foiled

Dear Foiled,

Maybe cooking with tinfoil is bad for you, maybe not, but since tinfoil hasn’t been manufactured since the middle of last century, who cares? If you’re referring to aluminum foil, I’ve heard those rumors too. I’ve also heard the aluminum in antiperspirant gives you breast cancer, but since a) I’m not in a high-risk group for breast cancer; b) my sweat smells like roses; and c) that rumor’s been widely discredited, I’ve not given much thought to the antiperspirant side of the story. But Alzheimers runs in my family, so I’ve paid more attention to the … what? Wait. What was I talking about?

Sorry. Like many issues at the crossroads of science, industry and public health, the discussion of aluminum toxicity is crowded with concerned citizens, conspiracy theorists, industry lobbyists and contradicting evidence. Despite all this confusion, it seems clear that aluminum is a) a neurotoxin; b) found in large concentrations in the brains of Alzheimers patients; and c) the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. Thus, while aluminum is tough to avoid, it’s worth a try.

The real question is: If you’re wrapping fish in aluminum foil, why are you grilling it? Isn’t the whole point of grilling to let the flames kiss the meat, creating that deliciously carcinogenic outer crisp? If you want the moist cooking environment of a foil pocket, I suggest placing the whole business—meat, marinade, etc.—in a covered cast-iron pan or baking dish and cooking it in the oven. If you want to grill salmon, I’d briefly grill the non-skin surfaces first, then grill it skin-side down until it’s done.

Send your food and garden queries to flash@flashinthepan.net.

 
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