Every summer the salmon run and we do our best as good Alaskans to get our share of the fish. I have patience issues, so the whole ‘stand in the water with a line and a little hook for hours and legally take 1-2 fish a day’ thing doesn’t work for me. I instead love the resident only method of dipnetting. Take a giant 5 foot net and put it at the end of a super long pole with a handle, stand in the mouth of a river (sometimes up to your chest) and wait for the salmon to swim in. Some people don’t think it’s very sportsmanlike, but whatever. I won’t be having them over for dinner. And if I did, I wouldn’t be serving any of our amazing salmon.
The trip this year started with a bad omen…a fishing report suggesting that commercial boats would be cleaning the run out of the inlet…then a report coming in saying the fish were slammed. So, we put all of our gear into the VW and powered up and out. We got about 2 blocks from the house before there was a literal and actual fire in the van. No major damage (except for the bar bill afterward), but we were a bit mopey and unsure if we would get to fish this year….And then another report came in. So many fish, and no one is taking them. So we loaded our gear again and jumped in the pickup. A 3 hour drive and we had our nets in the water by 9pm. Fished until 11, and had 6 pretty sockeye to show for our efforts and a totally soaked me. A trip to the Wal Mart (I hate to admit that I went, but it was midnight…what can you do?) and I had dry duds, some snacks, and a blanket to sack out in the pickup.
Fast forward past a 3 hour nap, and we had our nets in the water at 6am again. After a full day of steady fishing we pulled 35 salmon.
We now begin the task of processing these tasty beasts. Almost all are filleted and the bellies are brining to faux dehydrate. But look at the teeth on this guy! As the salmon spawn out their jaws grow and teeth become all crazy and scary. I’m so glad they don’t bite as I had 2 nail me while in the water – full speed projectile salmon hurt!
The husband did an awesome job as well. Despite only having one boot. Somehow in the loading and unloading process one went missing. (People can be so rude, right?) But he padded around like a true Alaskan trooper and slayed the fish regardless. He also does all the gutting (I fillet) for which I am eternally grateful (I stand over his shoulder and announce loudly whether “It’s a boy!” as he zips each belly).
It’s a ton of work, and everything on my body hurts, but we did it. We kicked some fishy ass. And it’s going to be delicious all year. But first, I need a nap and a massage.
One of the many cool things about living in Alaska is the seasonal salmon runs. It’s a haven for fishermen of all kinds. While some fish with poles, we subscribe to the resident only method of dip-netting. A large 5 foot round net is attached to a 12+ foot pole and set at the mouth of the river to scoop up delicious, vibrant salmon as they run to their spawning ground. Picture hundreds of people, shoulder to shoulder, rocking the latest fashions in Fishing Chic, pulling fish out the water as fast as they run. Well, the speed thing depends on what’s running, and this year they were slow. We fell short of our target but had a good time regardless and scooped up our first flounder, which I have lovingly named Pete.
All the filets have been processed and the bellies and spare bits have been marinated and ‘smoked‘ and let me tell you…this stuff is good. Like, can’t stop eating it good. Fatty, salty, sweet. Yum.
We may try our luck again this weekend, or we may call it good. Either way, life is pretty excellent and even tastier when you work for it yourself.
I love grilling season because that means I get to make my no fail, no fuss, life changing salmon. It’s super easy and guaranteed to impress anyone you serve.
- Quickly spray your salmon filet lightly with olive oil (we have a Misto and it rocks)
- Sprinkle with a dash of salt, pepper, garlic salt, & cayenne
- Drizzle a few lines of honey across the filet and give 2 quick squirts of lemon juice to the top
- Place the filet skin side down on your grill grate (a nice medium heat) and cook for 13-15 minutes depending on the size of your filet. Don’t flip it!
- Using a spatula simply pull the fish from the skin and serve. You can just peel the skin from the grate when it cools – no more skinning!
Since salmon is best served a little on the medium side this finishes your piece with just the right amount of moisture and is packed full of flavor despite the short ingredient list. I doubt you’ll have any leftovers to deal with.
I was on my own for dinner last night and decided to grab some salmon from the freezer. The husband likes his fish to still taste like fish, and I like to add a little more zip to it…and what I came up with was *amazing.*
- Rinse and dry your salmon filet and remove the bones (I use needle nose pliers)
- Place the dry filet skin side down on foil (dry skin means it will stick to the foil when it’s time to serve, meaning you don’t have to mess around with the skin)
- Add some salt, garlic salt, and a liberal dash of pepper, squeeze a little bit of lemon over the filet and then finish with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of honey
- Bake uncovered in a preheated 375* oven for 15 minutes (it will be perfectly cooked – you want salmon to be just ‘underdone’)
It honestly was so good I ate the whole thing (to be fair it was only half a filet) but that is pretty unheard of for me. The mix of the pepper and the honey made for a combination I just couldn’t get enough of (kinda like salty and sweet – chocolate covered pretzels? Forget about it.)
We have a bit of an aversion to fire around here, so setting a smoker on the deck to take care of our needs wouldn’t go over very well. But it’s all good as I actually prefer to use our dehydrator when it comes to ‘smoking’ fish. We did a batch of bits after our huge haul earlier this summer (bellies and parts that don’t work on a full filet) and have already munched our way through. However, considering we still have a good 100+ pounds of salmon in the freezer I pulled a few filets out today to brine and ‘smoke.’
- Rinse your filets and cut into 1/2 inch wide strips as long as you would like (after pulling the bones of course). I leave the skin on to process and we just pull the meat off as we eat.
- Mix 1 1/2 cups soy sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 3 tablespoons lemon juice together and pour over your 1 – 2 pounds of cut pieces.
- Allow to marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours shaking occasionally.
- Pat each piece dry on a paper towel and arrange on your dehydrator rack, making sure the pieces don’t touch.
- Set at 145* for 5-8 hours, depending on the desired doneness (we like ours still a little fresh ie: not full jerky.
This makes great snacking food and tastes just like some of the best smoked I’ve had without the fake added liquid smoke some recipes call for (which I always burp up – gross). What you can’t eat now stick in the freezer. It comes back to life amazingly fast after being frozen!
Wow. All I have been posting about is food lately. Which means of course that I’m so busy filling jewelry and knit cowl orders that I don’t have much time to do other crafty projects….A good problem to have? Perhaps.
Anyhoo. Tonight was another salmon experiment: Panko Salmon. Super easy: flour filets, dredge in egg and then cover in panko mixed with your choice of spices and throw in a non stick pan with some olive oil for 4 or so minutes a side. Done.
My point? The sauce that the husband has been making to go on top of the latest fish concoctions, a variation of his famous stroganoff sauce, is amazing.
- 2 TB butter melted in a pan
- Add approx 2 TB chopped/minced onion and saute with a TB or so of garlic
- After your onion starts to ‘clear’ add 2 TB of flour to make your rue
- Add 1 cup warm water with bullion or stock as you see fit
- Boil while whisking 2-3 minutes and remove from heat to cool down
- Add 2 -3 TB of sour cream, warm – add salt and pepper to taste
This is the base of awesome. Seriously. And to switch it up we’ve been adding things like jalapenos and cilantro to step 2. Great flavor you would think was from a restaurant. Go ahead. Try it. Top your favorite ______ with this sauce and a few chopped green onions and thank me later.
(post is lacking photos due to immediate inhalation of food)
As I may have mentioned once or twice (or a lot more than that) we have a ton of salmon in our freezer. Ok, not actually a ton, but I’m not exaggerating when I say we have upwards of 140 pounds. Since we have so much of the delicious swimming fools we have been pretty keen to experiment. The latest and greatest? Teriyaki salmon. It’s super quick and super easy and doesn’t taste fishy at all.
- Filet and skin 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of fish and be sure to pull those little bones out
- Heat 1 TB olive oil in a nonstick pan until it swirls freely – add your lightly peppered fish
- Cook fish approximately 3 minutes on each side over medium heat
- Set aside on a paper towel, wipe out your pan and get ready for your sauce
- Add 1/3 cup soy sauce and 3 TB brown sugar to the sauce pan and reduce
- Add your mostly cooked salmon to the pan with the sauce and reheat 1 minute per side
- Plate, serve and eat
We had our first dip-netting adventure 2 weeks ago and harvested 32 red salmon (our limit was 35 – but we were tired). It was a crazy and fun experience which left us both very sore and our freezer full of fresh fish. In addition to steaks and fillets, the little leftover parts of the fish (think less waste!) were brined and thrown in the dehydrator to make a pseudo smoked salmon or jerky. So good…Yum. Great on it’s own to snack on or to mix with a little cream cheese for a to-die-for salmon spread….
But last night we finally put the last lid on the ’12 salmon processing season by pickling the last remaining fillets. First they were packed in salt for a week (to kill all the freeloading bad guys), then cut into strips and stuffed lovingly into jars with an assortment of veggies to keep the fish company (asparagus, kohlrabi, radishes, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, onions, garlic, jalapenos and a slice of lemon). They are now sitting in the fridge getting their pickle on….we can’t wait to give them a try in a month or so when they are done doing their thing. Something about processing your own food just makes it taste so much better!