Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour


The saga of a salmon

Everyone should have at least one fisherperson in their family. How else can one ever hope to enjoy really, really delicious fresh fish? My own personal favorite fisherman is my nephew David Lindeblad who lives and fishes along the Canadian/Washington border in a town called Omak.

David is the kind of guy who would rather fish than do most anything else. After years of gentle persuasion Dave, his wonderful wife Betty Fry and beautiful daughter Mary Matilda came for a too short visit. During our time together I made the good/bad mistake of mentioning how difficult it is to get salmon that hasn't been farm raised.

We had a lovely few days together and guess what? David called to say that he was sending a big steelhead salmon that had my name on it. Here is where the saga began. Problem #1: Dry ice is hard to come by in Omak, Wash. Problem #2: A whole big salmon once frozen and thawed has no choice; it must be cooked and shared with fellow deprived salmon lovers.

Phone calls were made, invitations were extended, and friends were booked to come for a wild salmon feed. The date was set for two days after the salmon's departure from Omak.

We waited two days and then held our breath as we took turns leaving the premises for two days; telling chatty callers that we were waiting for an important phone call.

No big fish came our way. But the guests did. They were a surprised when the last minute pork tenderloin came to the table with dilled cucumbers and Red Pepper Aioli.

We are currently enjoying alone the best salmon ever to swim into our kitchen.

Should you ever be as lucky as we were, here are some things-to-do-with salmon tricks that we can highly recommend. All will work with other fish as well.

Boiling a large fish

To give more flavor to a boiled fish you can flavor the water with herbs and vegetables such as celery, onion and carrot (sound familiar?). To the water used for boiling the fish add vinegar or white wine and salt. Once you have cooked the fish save the liquid and boil it for half an hour then use the reduction for cooking smaller fish, shellfish or lobster.

Step 1. Clean out the cavity and if you wish place such herbs in the body cavity as parsley, thyme, scallion rings including stems, lemon grass, lemon slices, etc.

Step 2. Wrap the fish in parchment paper that has been slightly dampened and tie it in place string so that the shape of the fish remains in tact and the paper (or even aluminum foil) remains securely closed. (This is crucial if you want a large fish to be served in one piece.)

Step 3. Place it on a rack in a fish poacher if you have one or a large roasting pan. Add COLD water, white wine (optional) and more herbs. Large fish should always be started in cold water.

Step 4: Bring to a full boil and boil for only one minute. Leave cover on vessel and remove from heat. Let the fish cool in its own juices before removing it, using the rack to lift it out of the water. Very carefully remove the paper trying not to damage the fish.

Step 5. Make very shallow cuts, just through the skin, along the spine and the sides, so that you can peel off the skin before serving.


Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Herb Yogurt

Preheat grill to high heat after making sure that the grates are clean. When the grill is preheated and very hot, brush with olive oil using a clean paper towel held with tongs.

Sauce:

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juice
1 small clove garlic minced or pressed
1 tablespoon minced chives
2 teaspoons minced dill
1 tablespoon minced basil
Salt and pepper

Sauce: Whisk together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more lemon juice. Set aside until fish is grilled.

Fish: Brush all sides of the fish with olive oil then season fillets with salt and pepper before grilling in a fish rack or wrapped in heavy foil.


Salmon Cakes with Corn and Potatoes

This is a good way to feed a crowd with one pound of salmon or other fish. You can use leftover mashed potatoes and leftover cooked or canned salmon, both of which save time and money. Serve with dilled cucumbers, Red Pepper Aioli, or a mixture of sour cream, capers and mustard. Makes 12 patties.

To make cakes:

1 pound salmon fillet, bones removed
Fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into same size pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
3 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pepper
2 medium onions, diced
3 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 ear of corn or thawed frozen corn kernels, optional
1 egg

To assemble:

2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 3/4 cups dried breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons melted butter

To make cakes: Preheat oven to 350 F. Place salmon on a baking sheet lined with foil, season with salt and pepper and squeeze fresh lemon juice over all. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven cool, remove skin and bones, flake the fish. Cover so it doesn't get dry. Meanwhile, combine potatoes, garlic and 1 tablespoon salt in medium pot, then cover completely with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and mash together with 2 tablespoons milk, 2 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add a little more milk if needed. The potatoes should be smooth but fairly dry. Chill. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a skillet. Add onions and saute for about 4 minutes, until just softened. Add the bell peppers and saute for 3 minutes. Stir in corn and cook a few minutes longer until corn is just barely done. Gently combine flaked fish with the mashed potatoes and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper then beat eggs and gently fold in to hold ingredients together. Refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours or even overnight.

Assemble: Preheat oven to 425 F. Combine eggs and milk in a shallow bowl. Combine breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl. Shape salmon mixture into 12 patties, using about 1/2 cup per patty. Dip the cakes completely in the egg wash, letting excess egg drip off, then place cakes in breadcrumbs and pack all sides of the cakes with crumbs. Place on baking sheet and drizzle melted butter on both sides of cakes. Bake 10 minutes per side, until lightly golden.

Freezing Note: You can assemble the cakes and freeze them on a cookie sheet. Package them individually and they will be ready to pop into the oven when needed. Or, let cooked salmon cakes cool completely, and then wrap individually in freezer wrap. Thaw before drizzling with butter and baking at 425 F.


Red Pepper Aioli

You can use jarred roasted red bell peppers for this sauce, which goes well with most any fish or fowl. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Salt to taste

Combine ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cultivate all of the fisher-folk you meet.


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