Okay, look. I don’t remember how I got into this particular Wikipedia rabbit hole. (Does anyone ever remember?) I just know how it ended: on a truly cursed page titled “Dishwasher salmon”.

“Dishwasher salmon is an American fish dish made with the heat from a dishwasher, particularly from its drying phase.”

The Yanks. Of course. Who else but the people who created Cheez Whiz, canned whole chicken and all those other not-really-foods would even dream of disrespecting a dead fish like this?

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Google doesn’t have much to say about how long dishwasher salmon has been around and who uh, “invented” it. My guess is that it arose during the post-war boom, when American homes began filling with time-saving appliances and people were convinced domestic labour of every kind was about to be obsolete.

Truly, what could be more efficient than washing dishes and cooking dinner simultaneously, at the push of a button?

That’s the point of dishwasher salmon. Or so I assumed. The handful of recipes floating around the internet specifically say not to use soap. You’re not to wash dishes while the salmon cooks. It seems like maybe, American home cooks figured out how to sous-vide (slow-cook in a warm water bath) before French chefs named it, built specific machines for it and put one in every Michelin-star kitchen in France.

Those lucky 20th-century Americans. We’re living in a different, more environmentally conscious time now. You can’t just cycle an empty dishwasher to cook a bit of salmon! Think of all the precious power and water it would waste. If I was going to prepare this thing – and due to my innate, borderline-pathological curiosity, I couldn’t not – I was damn sure going to get a load of clean dishes out of it too.

So I went to my local fish shop and said, “Can I have two pieces of that Australian salmon, please?” while trying my best to look like a normal person who takes their fish home and cooks it the normal way, in a pan or an oven.

I intended to ruin the salmon right away, but it turns out I’d grossly misjudged the frequency of crossover between a) needing to eat dinner and b) needing to wash a heap of dishes. The dishes are usually created when you eat, not before.

The delicate, pastel-hued fillets sat in the fridge for seven days, turning an alarming neon orange and getting progressively smellier. Ah well, it’s not like you need top-grade stuff when you’re cooking in the dishwasher, right?

Finally the big day arrived. I stacked the dishwasher with dreg-filled mugs, sauce-encrusted plates and greasy cutlery, and eagerly pulled up the most credible recipe I’d found, Ruth Ritchie’s dishwasher salmon with sorrel sauce, from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. (The recipe was originally published in Vogue. I’m pretty sure they took it down for reasons related to shame and disgust.)

I squeezed some fresh lime juice over the fillets, knowing full well it wouldn’t help the seven-day pong, added some salt and pepper, then wrapped the fillets in three layers of foil – one more than the recipe recommended. I took a deep, calming breath. Placed the crinkly package on the top rack. Added a scoop of dishwashing powder. Hit the button marked “Light soiling – 55°C”. Silently thanked the boffins at Miele for including temperatures on my dishwasher’s controls.

As it turns out, 50 to 60 degrees is the ideal temperature for poaching salmon. This is a low, fairly narrow range that’s very hard – if not impossible – to achieve in a steamer or oven. I hate to entertain the idea again, but maybe the person (or people) who came up with dishwasher salmon wasn’t totally unhinged?

While the salmon cooked – and my dishes washed! – I prepared a somewhat elegant sauce of butter, leek, shallot, lemon juice, cream and dill (I couldn’t find sorrel) on the stove. This created not one but two more dirty dishes (dislike), as the sauce had to be whizzed in the blender afterwards. I’d have to cook another bit of salmon in order to wash them. Shit.

Forty-five minutes later, I paused the dishwasher and opened the door. A cloud of steam billowed out, just like it would from a real cooking appliance. The once-shiny package was revealed, covered in suds and with a pool of murky water pooled in its sizeable lip. Uh-oh. Did that water get in?

Hard to say. Lime juice is murky too, and I’d added at least a couple of tablespoons to the package. The salmon was cooked, at any rate. I slid it from its dank aluminium lair, shook it down, plated it up and poured on the sauce.

I took a bite. It … wasn’t too bad? The salmon was tender, with a citrusy, herbaceous finish. I’ve eaten worse at weddings.

“Can I give him some of this for dinner?” I asked my wife, pointing to our two-year-old boy.

“Not until we know for sure you didn’t give yourself food poisoning,” she said, shaking her head and possibly questioning her decision to marry me.

The dishwasher pinged, signalling the filthy mugs, plates, forks and knives were clean again. How unbelievably convenient, I thought.