Salmon, in the eyes of the many, is the king of the fish. Whole peoples in Alaska and other shores of the Pacific depend on salmon as their staple food. Most salmon sold in stores comes from fish farms, but some of us are fortunate enough to be able to stock their fridges on the fish they caught themselves. It’s a great source of protein, and the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon have been proven effective against a vast range of ailments, from cardiovascular diseases to cognitive disorders. The meditative experience of casting your fly in a clear mountain stream, the thrill of fighting a great, powerful fish are a delight on its own, and when you get to top it with outstanding culinary pleasure – this could be the definition of paradise!
Salmon is generally easy to process and cook, and when you first eat salmon after a long time without it, you’d bet you could eat each and every day for the rest of your life. Yet, this wonderful fish has the tendency to grow dull on you, and you may begin to ponder if one could go beyond the staple grilled steaks or boiled filet. Growing tired of salmon is a nice problem to have, and here are a few tips how you can solve it.
Smoked salmon for sandwiches and such can be bought in every supermarket of the world, but salmon carpaccio is a rarer guest. Yet, it is easy to make at home, only cheaper and better. If you’re not keen on the taste and smell of smoke, you may end up preferring salmon carpaccio to any store-bought smoked salmon. Both fresh and frozen salmon work; frozen and defrosted is a bit safer, as it’s a sashimi-type recipe, where you have to be 100% sure that the fish you’re cooking are free from parasites.
My wife keeps it simpler than simple – coarse salt, freshly coarsely ground black pepper, and a bit of cane sugar (about one teaspoonful sugar per one tablespoonful salt). You may add other spices that you think are indispensable with salmon. Take a salmon filet, smother it with the salt-sugar-pepper mixture, put in a polyethylene bag or wrap in foil, and leave in the refrigerator overnight (hint: if you’re really hungry, three hours will do it). Wipe off the salt, and there you go. Sliced thinly, it is perfect in sandwiches, with fried eggs for breakfast, in salads, and makes an irresistible combination with avocado.
I’m writing this with my belly full of this one, it’s a little messy, but fast and delicious. For ½ lb of salmon filet (one portion), take 1 cup of pure yogurt (unflavoured and unsweetened, of course), ½ ounce of dill, 2 eggs and the juice of one lemon, salt and spices to taste. Quickly fry the bits of filet, about 5 minutes to a side or less, then add them in a blender bowl together with the eggs, half the lemon juice, and half the dill, and puree. For simplicity, you can fry the fish in a small pot and puree it right there with a hand-held blender.
Fire up a big frying pan and use the puree as pancake dough; I prefer to keep the pancakes smaller, about as much as you get with one full big serving spoon of the mixture. While you’re at it, finely chop the remaining dill, and mix it with the yogurt, lemon juice, and spices to taste. Serve the salmon pancakes smothered with the yogurt sauce.
Creamy Salmon Soup with Bacon
Raise your hand if you hated soup as a kid. Keep your hand up if you’ve rediscovered soup as a parent. Good news for you: fish soup doesn’t have to be boring, especially if you throw in a bit of bacon. This recipe is good for when you’ve got some salmon scraps left, because the fish will have to go to small pieces. Anyway. Take some bacon, about two slices (all ingredients given per portion), and fry in a pot with a couple of tablespoons of water, then add some chopped onions (about 2 ounces), and finely chopped celery (½ rib).
Once the vegs seem fried enough, add about a glass of milk, and some ⅕ lb of potatoes, cut into cubes. You may add clam juice and/or hot fish sauce if that’s your thing. Bring to boil, and cook until the potatoes are soft, then add fish scraps (¼ lb) and cook for 3-5 minutes. Decorate with fresh or dried herbs to taste, and serve.
As you might have remembered from the previous issues of Fish on the Table, I like to cook by inspiration and don’t always stick to published proportions. If you’re not like me, be sure to google up any of the ideas above for precise directions. Better yet, book a salmon fishing trips on BaitYourHook.com, and secure a couple of these wonderful, sporting, healthy and delicious fishes for yourself!
Main photo credit: David Hartlin Guiding