Monday, July 9, 2012

Superb Summer Sockeye

I picked up 6 pounds of fresh sockeye salmon from Loki Fish Co. on Saturday morning. I sincerely wish I had a photo to show you. I have to admit that when I see beautiful food shots on blogs (and goodness, there are really some amazing ones out there - have you seen la tartine gourmande or smitten kitchen?), I not only admire their photo skills, but also their patience. I make food, and then I eat it. Later I think about how I should have stopped for a moment and attempted a photo. But it probably wouldn't have been a good one anyway, and so my regret is short-lived.

Back to the salmon: It was the most magnificent, intense, corally-red color. It glistened. It was striped white with silky fat. It was firm and supple, and smelled of the sea. I showed immense self-control by only buying 6 pounds of it.

It came in 3 pieces. The first piece I grilled and we ate it as a salmon nicoise with a mustardy, shallot-heavy vinaigrette, hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, and barely blanched vibrant green beans and boiled Yukon Gold potatoes from Alvarez Family Farm. It felt like summer had finally arrived.

Tonight I slow roasted the other 2 pieces the way I learned from Jerry Traunfeld's The Herbal Kitchen: Simply "slather" both sides of the filleted, skinned salmon with olive oil, season with salt, and bake at 225 degrees F just until a little of the white stuff starts congealing around the salmon. The cooked color is the same vibrant color it was pre-cooking, and the texture is as silky as it was raw, but the layers separate when prodded. I have never served salmon cooked this way to anyone who didn't absolutely love it. Of course, the better the raw fish you start with, the better the result, and so tonight the salmon was just amazing. I made (another!) batch of Kelly Daly's kale and wheat berry salad and served a 6 ounce piece of the shimmering roasted salmon on top of each serving. I went light on the smoked salmon in the salad, and I lightly salted the salmon I roasted, and we just loved the combination.

So next time you've got a fabulous piece of salmon, try cooking it Traunfeld's way. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can never have too many ways to prepare fresh salmon...

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