Wild salmon season
For those of you who follow the wild-salmon season of California, Oregon and Washington, we have just passed what should have been the official opening of the season.
But this year, as last year, the wild salmon catch will be greatly reduced due to the problems along the Klamath River. California, Oregon and federal governments have again reduced the season and the amount of wild salmon that can be caught. (I have read that, in addition to the geographic constraints, they have put a limit of only 75 king salmon per boat per week.) Much of the coast will actually be closed for the entire season.
Of course, the effect is rippling, and the obvious victims are the fishermen whose livelihoods will be affected. Because demand will outstrip the supply, and the fact that the fishermen have to make a living, the cost of wild salmon will be in the upper stratosphere.
Last week, I bought my first wild salmon from Alaska. The price was an earth-shaking $13 per pound for a whole fish. By the time you debone, skin, and filet the fish, the wholesale price is running closer to $18 per pound. My prediction for consumers at the retail level is the price will be in the mid-$20 range. This is really going to test our love affair with wild salmon.
As cooks, we will have to be more creative in using all of the salmon we can, not just the filets (i.e., boiling the bones and head, picking the meat and making salmon cakes).
I urge all of you to hold the faith and not be tempted to buy farm-raised salmon that has not been organically or naturally raised. The difference in quality, as I have said many times, is worth the price. You may have to consider a salmon dinner in the same mind set as having a special filet mignon dinner. Save it for a special occasion – it is a delicacy to be cherished.
My wife, Karen, and I look forward to the wild-salmon season. We pray that these measures will help restore the salmon run along the Klamath River. But unless we exercise better control of the agricultural waste runoff along the river and the tributaries and do a better job of managing the flows on the river (possibly removing the dams), limiting the catch and closing the areas north and south of the Klamath River will never truly solve the problems.
The fishermen should not have to carry the brunt of this problem, which was not of their making. Let’s hope for a solution when enjoying the salmon recipes and say a little prayer and maybe write to your representative in support of the fishermen.
One of my recipes will deal with the traditional salmon filet, and the other is a classic recipe that deals with the bone and neck meat – salmon cakes.
Baked Wild Salmon on Braised Red Cabbage
Serves 4 to 6
1Ú3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 slices of thick-cut bacon (sliced to slivers 3Ú8 inch thick)
1 cup Granny Smith apple (organic), peeled and chopped 3Ú8-by-3Ú8 inch
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple, cored, 3Ú8-by-3Ú8 inch
1 large head of red cabbage, approximately 3 cups thinly sliced
1Ú2 cup brown sugar
1Ú8 cup sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1Ú4 cup sun-dried cherries
Sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste
2 T. soft butter
2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped, no seeds
In a 12-by-2-inch braising pan, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Add the apples and pineapple. Cook for 5 minutes or until the fruit looks cooked (slightly browned).
At this time, add the cabbage and carefully stir. Cook about 2 minutes and add the brown sugar and vinegar. Turn the heat to a low simmer. Add cherries and cook approximately 10 minutes or until cabbage is cooked thoroughly (soft and tender).
(At this time, I like to place it in the oven at 350 degrees for another 10 minutes and bake.)
Just before serving, drain off all of the oils and add salt and pepper, butter and the finely chopped jalapeño peppers. Place the cabbage mixture on a serving platter and place cooked salmon filets on top.
To prepare the salmon filets, place them on a paper towel and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a 12-inch skillet, add 3 T. of olive oil (does not have to extra virgin) and heat over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Sear the salmon filets (two or three at a time) for 2 minutes per side; it will be rare at this point. Set aside on paper towels and let drain.
Put 1Ú4 cup of either sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar In a baking pan. Place filets skin-side down and sprinkle with brown sugar (flesh side). (If you want to “kick it up,” you can also drizzle a little pure maple syrup on them.) Lightly sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on top of each filet. Place in pre-heated oven (350 degrees) for 15 minutes to achieve a medium to medium-well temperature in the salmon.
After cooking, place on top of the cabbage – and wow your guests. Serving this dish family-style will help create conversation and unity.
Serves: 8 appetizers, or 4 dinners
21Ú2 cups salmon
1Ú4 cup scallions
1Ú4 cup red bell pepper
1 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
2 T. mayonnaise
1 T. yellow mustard
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1Ú4 teaspoon white pepper or to taste
Combine all ingredients. Form into a pancake by using your fingers and palm of your hand. Lightly flour the cakes. Place a half-inch of olive or canola oil in a 12-inch sauté pan and heat on medium high. Lightly brown the cakes on all sides. The salmon cakes can be placed in the oven to keep warm if you decide to serve them with a sauce.
Recommended sauce for salmon cakes.
1 large head of garlic, peeled
1 pinch of sea or kosher salt
3 T. fresh lemon juice
Cayenne pepper to taste
Crushed chili flakes to taste
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. Tabasco sauce
1Ú2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 large red peppers
Roast peppers, peel, and remove seeds. If desired, roast peeled garlic in 1Ú2 cup of the olive oil. (I like to place it in the oven for approximately 30 minutes to infuse the oil with the garlic. It gives the rouille an awesome flavor.)
Put add the garlic, salt, eggs, Tabasco sauce, mustard, crushed chili peppers, cayenne pepper and lemon juice in a blender. Cover and blend for about 3 minutes. Add the olive oil by drizzling it into the mixture in the blender. Be sure your blender is on a low or medium setting. The consistency when the oil is added should be like a very thick-style mayonnaise. You may have to use a rubber spatula to help rotate the top of the rouille to the bottom so that it is thoroughly mixed.
Add the roasted red peppers. Once blended, add salt and pepper to taste.
When serving the salmon recipe with the braised red cabbage, I recommend a nice white Rhone-style wine. A couple of California wineries from the Sierra foothills that I like are Soban Estates, Viognier or C.G. Di Arie Winery, Marsanne.
Visit Ben’s Liquor and Aloha Wine and Liquors to find these wines or others comparable to them.
The salmon cakes will go nicely with a crisp sauvignon blanc. My choice is Mason from Napa Valley or Shenandoah Vineyards, Amador County.
As always enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!!!
• Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele’s. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City for 22 years. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.