A Tale of Two Salmon: Part II

The time comes in every frozen fish’s afterlife when it must leave the security of the deep freeze to be thawed, prepped and cooked. The second large piece of Coho in our freezer met its fate this week – a fate that including a roasting, a baking and finally, a chowdering (is that a word?). Jason scaled and washed the salmon and stuffed it with fresh tarragon and lemon slices then roasted it in a 450 degree oven atop roasting fennel bulb and leeks and a dash of white wine. Roasting it bone-in with the skin on protects the meat from over-cooking. Still, salmon, like all fish, shouldn’t cook too long and get too hot or the flake of the fish becomes brittle and dry.

The resulting roast of salmon couldn’t have been tastier. We plated it with the roasted vegetables and a heap of horseradish mashed potatoes.

We wanted more the following day and since everything was cooked, all we had to do was load up a couple of baking dishes with mashed potatoes, a bit of veggies and a piece of salmon. We popped them into the toaster oven and within minutes we had a composed one dish meal. Because the salmon was dry thanks to the second cooking, it got a nice dollop of lemony mayo sauce that included chopped capers, fresh lemon juice, a dash of Tabasco and a little salt and fresh ground black pepper.

 

Left over Salmon

Later in the week, the leftover salmon enjoyed a second “life” in the form of a delicious chowder of sweet pink flakes in a light cream broth with potatoes, leeks and fresh herbs. I enjoyed a big bowl for lunch, then a second! The batch must have been huge because there’s plenty left for another day and Jason froze a mess of it for a future quick meal.

Cooking the salmon leaves plenty of room in the deep freeze for more fish. We’re hoping for a good catch next month when we try our hands at deep-sea fishing just off the coast of San Francisco. We’ll be sure to share the experience here so please stay tuned.

Cheers,

Steve & Jason

Roasted Salmon with Fennel and Leeks

olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 large leek, thinly sliced
¼ white wine
½ of a whole Coho salmon or salmon steaks
bunch of tarragon
½ lemon sliced
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Add a couple tablespoon olive oil to a small roasting pan. Add the fennel, leeks, and salt and pepper to the pan and roast for 15 minutes. While vegetables are roasting, scale and clean the salmon. Salt and pepper the cavity of the salmon then stuff with tarragon and lemon slices. Coat the fish with olive oil and add more salt and pepper. Add the white wine to the roasting vegetables, then place the salmon on top of the vegetables and roast for 15-20 minutes. Check to make sure the salmon does not over cook. Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes, and aioli, tartar sauce, or hollandaise sauce.

If you’re using salmon steaks cook them for 10 minutes, or so, depending on the thickness of them. Check often to make sure the fish does not dry out.

 

Salmon Chowder

Salmon Chowder

1 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
4 cups stock (fish, chicken or veggie – we add the salmon bones to the stock to add flavor then strain before adding to the soup)
1 pint cream
1 cup milk
3 large waxy potatoes, cubed
10 oz flaked salmon
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Heat stock pot over medium heat and add butter. When butter is melted, add onions and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add celery and garlic, cook for 3-5 minutes longer being careful not to brown the vegetables. Add broth and potatoes and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. Add salmon, cream and milk and heat until hot but not boiling. Add chopped parsley and serve.

Note: if you prefer a thicker chowder, add 2 tbsp flour to onion, celery and garlic after the sauté  and cook for a few minutes before adding stock. Be careful you don’t allow the roux to brown. Whisk liquid into the pan to prevent small “dumplings” from forming. Proceed with the remaining recipe instructions.

Sweet Summer Corn

Summer’s here and so is our first taste of farm-fresh corn. Two ears arrived in our weekly delivery from Capay Valley, just enough for us to get a good taste of a garden treat we rarely eat. Why rarely? Well, we love corn, but considering the hell genetically modified (GM) corn is raising out there, it’s hard to know if you’re getting organic corn or something bio-engineered in a lab. Of course, knowing your farmer helps resolve the dilemma. But if you’re not lucky enough to buy your produce from a local farmer, you can still ask your grocer for information on the source of the food you’re buying to feed your family.

Last April, we visited Capay farms during their annual strawberry-picking event. While we didn’t get to talk with Thaddeus or any of the other farming Barnes brothers one-to-one, the guided tour and Thaddeus’ willingness to answer visitors’ questions put our minds at ease with respect to the question of “where” our vegetables come from and “how” they’re grown. There’s nothing like walking the rows of an asparagus or lettuce field to be reminded that food, all food, ultimately comes from sun and soil and water. Our farm tour brought all of this into focus and inspired us to work harder at understanding how our food comes to us.

Corn is best young and fresh and these ears needed to be eaten quickly. Neither of us is particularly fond of corn on the cob unless it’s picked and eaten at its most perfect sweet ripe tenderness. Corn disappoints once the ears mature past their first ripe moments on the stock. Sadly, classic varieties don’t store well for very long and must be eaten as soon as they’re picked. We needed to figure out how to put these ears to work with other summer veggies and this delicious Bittman-inspired corn and shrimp chowder seemed the perfect choice!

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

4 slices bacon
6 patty pan, or long necked summer squash,  (roughly diced)
1 large onion (diced)
4 gypsy or red peppers (chopped)
6 medium red potatoes (roughly diced)
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 stalks minced celery
2 carrots, minced
2 ears of corn
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbs. Fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
Fresh basil
4 cups vegetable stock

Slowly cook the bacon over medium to low heat until all the fat is rendered and the bacon strips are crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes, in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Remove the bacon and set it aside for use later on.

Add onions, peppers, carrots and celery to sauté in the bacon fat. The moisture from the vegetables releases allowing you to scrape up the nice brown bacon fond from the bottom of the pot. The first round of vegetables should cook just until the onions are translucent and the celery, carrots and peppers have softened, approximately 5 minutes.
Into the pot go the potatoes, squash and mushrooms. These cook until slightly softened.

Now add the thyme.

Next comes the chicken stock and milk. Bring the pot back up to a simmer and cook the vegetables in the liquid for approximately 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

Finally, toss in the shrimp, corn and crumbled bacon. Remember that both shrimp and corn cook quickly. Just a couple of minutes in that hot pot will do the trick. Add basil, ladle the soup into warm bowls and serve.

Our pepper grinder is a permanent fixture on our dining table and, when soup’s for dinner, the Tabasco joins it. This soup is particular good with a sprinkle of cracked black pepper and a dash of hot sauce. Enjoy!