Season for Flavor - Salmon from Alaska

 

This April, I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the Season For Flavor Club pilot project. The Prince William Sound marketing team and fishermen have teamed up to spread the word about all the salmon available in different seasons. Would I be wiling to let them send free samples of each wild Alaska salmon species harvested in their seasons? Hell yes. After my visit to Cordova a few years ago, I became such a fan of the Alaskan fisheries management practices, especially with respect to salmon, that I am eager for the salmon run each year.

Alaska's wild fisheries are one example of a system that honors seasonality. We here in the lower 48 tend to be fuzzy on the topic of seasonality with respect to fish. Sure, we know that asparagus come up in Spring, Tomatoes are in Summer and Apples are in Fall. But we're unaccustomed, most of us, to thinking of seasons and fish. For more on this topic and some links to great sources please read my latest post on Suite101, Seasonal Striper with Fines Herbes.

First of the Season - King Salmon

I've loved all the Alaskan salmon I've had and couldn't wait to enjoy my first shipment. Each Spring I think about Salmon and also feel connected to the fishermen and wonder how they might be faring each Spring. I begin scouring the news about the salmon run and scanning the fishmongers' counters. Are the Salmon running strong? Will we see it here? I think of the people in Alaska whose lives are inextricably linked to the health of the fisheries, and I hope for all of them, the salmon and the fishermen, that we'll have a strong season.

This program naturally began with the first of the season, the King or Chinook. This large, prized salmon are the first to run. These are the largest of the species and have high levels of fat stored for their arduous journey home to spawn. The Chinook also have some of the highest levels of Omega-3s of any fish.

I grilled some, cured some using Vieux Carré Absinthe and a homemade spice blend. For grilling, I used a delicious spice rub included in an Alaska Seafood Marketing brochure.

Salmon on the grill (another example of hunger taking priority over composing a perfect shot.)

Check out this post in my BBQ Bonanaza series for more info on grilling the salmon and a great cookbook to guide you in all your grilling.

To the left (above) is the Himalayan Pink Salt block I received in Portland at my IACP dinner with the SELmelier. We had some scallions, which I decided to grill on the salt block. The salmon I'd spiced rubbed and set on lightly oiled cedar papers set right on the grill. (Soaked the papers first in water.) This created a light cedar smoky flavor, scenting the salmon. This and the rub complemented the rich fat of the salmon perfectly.

Here is some of the lox I cured with a touch of absinthe.

 

Copper River Sockeye

Copper River Sockeye was the second to arrive.

Look at that deep red color! And the skin toasts up nicely for a Japanese-style treat.

 

Prince William Sound Sockeye roasted with herb butter added at the final minutes of roasting.

 

How about roasted Sockeye with a sweet corn risotto?

This risotto was fantastic. I used terrific rice from Panzano's - a small multi-generation family rice farm in Spain produces it. Had some corn stock

from stripping corn down for another recipe. Here, I'm folding in pea tendrils from the farmer's market into the sweet corn risotto. This would be a terrific main course meal in itself. We served it with the second of our Salmon.

 

Corn, corn and more corn!

I found that the sweet corn is a nice foil to rich salmon. Writing this post for Suite101 on how to shop the farmers' markets and save, I was reminded of so many good ways to enjoy corn - it's more than one post can contain.  Here are more ideas in this post, Better than Sex Grilled Corn.