Wednesday, February 16, 2011

S Is for Salmon

As someone that grew up in the Pacific Northwest, I was never a huge fan of salmon probably because it was always there and we ate a lot of it. I would have rather had Macaroni and Cheese. I didn't like picking the bones out and while I was growing up, I just wasn't a huge fan of fish in general. As I've aged (and we won't talk about how aged, but like a nice cheese or a great bottle of wine, I think I'm getting better), I've come to appreciate fish more fully.

Last summer, I had a fantastic barbecued salmon at my mother's wake. Just after my mother passed away but before the memorial and wake, a friend of my sister's called telling her they had fresh caught salmon and would sell it to us for a reasonable price for each fish, cleaned and de-headed. (I personally have never gotten over the idea of eating food that looks back at me so appreciated that a great deal.) Kris (my sister, who throws a great wake, I hope she throws one for me if I go first), put them on the barbecue with the following very simple recipe she got from her fish monger:

Barbecue Salmon

1 salmon fillet

1/4 c olive oil

2/3 c brown sugar

3 cloves minced garlic

1/4 c butter

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and Pepper

Two hours before cooking salmon, brush with olive oil, press minced garlic into fish, and sprinkle with brown sugar and salt and pepper. Refrigerate until cooking time. During cooking time, baste with additional olive oil and melted butter and lemon juice.

We made it without the butter and just the olive oil and not quite as much brown sugar. It was SO simple and yummy. My mom would have loved it. We had a rice salad and some artisan bread from this local bakery with it. It was a really simple meal at a time when we didn't have the emotional bandwidth to fuss with anything complicated.

Dessert was PIE. My mom loved pie. Her birthday is just after mine and she always wanted pie instead of cake. When we celebrated together, we always had pie instead (which when I was younger disappointed me, but now I prefer it unless we are talking German Chocolate Cake.) Making good pie crust is a topic for a post all its' own, but lets just say that lard really does make a fantastic crust and in the absence of lard, unsalted butter is wonderful.
When I was younger, my mother would bake pies almost every weekend. Mostly apple or cherry. She would mark the top of the pie with an "A" or a "C". As these were her initials, I thought she was just marking the fact that she made the pies. When I left home and started making my own pies, I would mark them with a "J" or a "C". My mom asked me once what the "J" was for, I told her "JoAnn" just like she used to mark her pies for "Ann" and "Culbertson". She snorted and told me that "A" and "C" was for apple and cherry. So, needless to say, I marked the Peach/Blueberry pies at the wake with an "A" and "C" for mom.

Photo Courtesy of Sunset Magazine
I'm working on expanding my fish horizons these days. On Thursday, I made Salmon Patties with some canned salmon I had hanging around my pantry. I substituted Panko for the cracker crumbs and used celery, red pepper and onion for the veggies. The main thing is to be sure you mince the vegetables up consistently so they cook through but still maintain the crunch. The snap of the veggies with the salmon was really nice. Totally yummy and easy to make. A great quick weeknight dinner. Add some sauteed greens and a maybe some rice with garlic and herbs cooked in broth. Fast, easy and not too hard on the calorie count.

During the 14 years I lived in Colorado I didn't eat a lot of seafood as I felt too far away from the ocean for it to be good.  I recently moved to the Chicago area.  I haven't figured out what fish is local to the Great Lakes region yet, but am asking questions and researching. I'm looking forward to the nicer weather so I can use the barbecue and not smell up the house cooking fish.

Share those recipes and stories - fish, pie and stories. Look forward to reading them all! 

I'm linking up to Jenny Matlocks Alphabe Thursday.  Check it out and join the party!