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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why Everyone Needs a Fishing Buddy

One of the boons of putting up with the miserable weather in Oregon is that if you live in Portland and you have a boat, you can catch a nice salmon right downtown.  Or in my case, you know someone who likes to fish and can actually catch them.  Downtown. As in right in front of OMSI.  That is the kind of fishing buddy for me.   Right now the chinook salmon are making their way upstream, and spring chinook are especially nice to get your hook into because they are very fatty and rich; they start their migration upstream in spring, but don't actually get around to spawning until fall, so they have a lot of fat reserves on their bodies and are silky and unctuous and just plain delish.

My favorite way to cook a large filet, especially something like salmon is to do it the way I learned from my buddy Jacques Pepin (he doesn't know we are buddies, but we are) and that is to lay it on an ovenproof platter, season it however you will (or not), cover it with foil, and cook it at 200F for 20-30 minutes depending on how thick it is.  You will get a perfectly cooked and succulent piece of fish instead of gullet-strangling, fluffy, dried out, fish-guised-as-fur-ball dinner as I used to get when baking a fish.   The other nice thing about cooking a piece of fish this way is that it leaves you ample time to knock back a cocktail before you contemplate what else will go on the plate; in this case it was a glass of Steve's apfelwein, salad, risotto (made with orzo) and home grown asparagus, in that order.

I don't know if it was the apfelwein speaking or the recent trip to my new favorite restaurant * in Portland, but it dawned on me as I stared at that gorgeous piece of fish flesh that I should cut some of it off and pickle it, gravlax style, so I did.  I didn't want a lot of gravlax, just enough for bagels on Sunday morning, so I cut maybe six to eight ounces off and wrapped it up in some freezer paper to throw it in the deep freeze for a couple of days to kill any parasites that might be present.  At least, that's what the recipe I'll loosely follow said to do; we've made several things from The Joy of Pickling and they've all been successful and delicious (pickled tongue for instance). Or at least, they smell successful; the sauerkraut is still working but it smells just right and hasn't developed a scum which I've read it can.  Linda Ziedrich's gravlax recipe calls for a lot more fish, and some fennel to stand in for the de rigueur dill, but since I'm winging it anyway, I'll probably use some of the tarragon I have coming up. Or skip the herb entirely.  I just want the gravlax for breakfast this weekend.

So tomorrow night, the rest of the salmon comes out to defrost and get layered in sugar and salt and possibly tarragon, and come Sunday we'll be toasting up bagels and slathering them with cream cheese and gravlax.

And if it doesn't work, we'll be heading to Broder for breakfast.

*check out the breakfast menu.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Thank you for the Pepin recipe. What a great idea! I'm all about making time for cocktails. The Chinook is in the markets now here on the east coast and I'm in heaven. look forward to your posts.