Saturday, August 19, 2006

Salmon Surgery


My mom was recently passing through the Columbia River gorge and stopped to buy us a salmon from the native tribe in the area. Salmon fishing is highly regulated in the rivers of Oregon, but the restrictions are much looser for the native peoples who traditionally fished this area. My mom knows of some roadside stand where they sell some mighty big fish for a mighty good price. So she picked out an 11 pound specimen for us as a gift. The man gutted it for her in exchange for some cinnamon raisin bread and some blackberries. Not too bad a trade, it seems. But we still had a very big, nearly whole fish to figure out what to do with.

Not to worry, Denis is resourceful. He found an instructional website, complete with pictures (from which I borrowed the one above) telling him just what to do. The fish's head and tail exceeded the borders of the largest cutting board in the house (which is very large), but the fillet knife that we optimistically bought last year was good and sharp. About 15 minutes later, we had 6 portions of salmon which will each feed the two of us quite nicely. In fact we just cooked the largest one tonight and were able to invite Mom over for a thank you dinner. Now, if there is one thing that is my honey's cooking specialty, it is salmon on the grill. Several months ago, he bought a cedar board from the hardware store and cut it into foot-long segments. We take one of the planks and soak it in some liquid (preferably apple juice) for at least 30 minutes. Then the plank goes onto the hot grill with the fish on top. As the salmon is cooking by indirect heat, the plank is partially burning on the bottom half and lending a smoky flavor to the meat. It makes for a nice trick afterwards to show off the plank that now has the outline of the fish burnt into it's surface. To quote Rachael Ray, "yumm-o".

14 comments:

Rachel said...

Sounds delish, and salmon is quite healthy for you too!

Priscilla said...

That's it! I'm coming over for dinner!

Martha said...

Sometimes I see the "natives" here fishing in Salmon Creek but I'm not sure how successful they are.

I have (had) too many kiddos to serve anything other than fish sticks, so I usually settle for boneless chicken breast instead.

Anonymous said...

From Mom to add to story. The Native Indians can catch the fish with nets, while non native Indians must do it the hard way with the usual fishing poles. when the two fellows asked if I wanted them to "filet" the fish, I asked how much???? Reply was they would take a tip......So the I asked how about cinamon bread (no raisins), blackberries and apricots would do. 'THAT WOULD BE A GREAT TIP" was the reply and the deal was done. MOM

Tracy said...

Thanks for the additional info, Mom. :o)

MOM said...

You are most welcome, daughter dear......Mom

Nixter said...

how totally cool, I loveeeeeeeeee salmon so much. Hmmm haven't had it for a while, must buy some soon. Any salmon tips you have - feel free to email ;)

lm1 said...

okay is this a gas grill?

Tracy said...

Nix, I will email you another easy recipe.

Lm, it is a gas grill, but I suspect that it would work just as well on charcoal. A lot of the perfection has to do with the timing. I'm pretty hopeless about cooking salmon too long, but Denis has it down pat.

lm1 said...

oh we have a gas... thats why i asked... some of of the smoking stuff only works well with charcoal.
thanks

Trisha said...

Fun story. We've grilled with a plank before but never tried soaking it in apple juice. I'm definitely going to try it.

Tracy said...

We originally did this with alder planks that we bought ready-cut. With the cedar, I find that you can't taste the influence of the apple juice quite as much.

Nixter said...

thanks Tracy :)

Tracy said...

OH, I forgot to email you the recipe!