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Wellness / September 18, 2016

Cook Salmon like an Alaskan

Written by: Renee Howard

This time of year, Alaskans eat a lot of salmon. Many of us have spent the last three months stocking up on sockeye, and we’ve converted our kitchens into makeshift factories for canning, smoking, and freezing the stuff. During peak season, I often bring home 30+ fish at a time.

It takes some creativity to eat that much fish without boring the taste buds. Thankfully, we in The Last Frontier have whipped up some pretty diverse recipes.

Here are three of my favorites:


Oven baked salmon with herb butter

Baking a salmon fillet with butter is an old standby—it’s quick, easy, and almost impossible to mess up. A simple homemade herb butter is enough to take it to the next level.

Ingredients:

  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 1 stick butter
  • a dash of cayenne or paprika
  • 1/2 cup of fresh herbs. My favorites mix includes chives, parsley, thyme, and a touch of oregano
  • 2 tbs. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  • Melt butter and mix in all ingredients (except salmon).
  • Preheat over to 400F.
  • Place fillet skin-side down in a greased pan. Spread a thin layer of herb butter over fish.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until salmon is pink and flakes apart.
  • Serve over fresh greens and drizzle with more herb butter.

Smoked salmon jerky

People have smoked and dried salmon in Alaska since long before it was Alaska. Freezers now make it much easier to store extra fish, but smoked salmon has endured because… well… it tastes good.

This recipe is geared toward a very large portion of fish, but can be scaled down for a grocery store purchase.

Ingredients:

  • 10 lbs salmon
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 3 jalapeños, chopped
  • 2 tbs. red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups water (add more if needed)
  • (optional) 1 tsp liquid smoke

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients (except salmon) in a bowl to make a brine.
  • Cut salmon into 1-2″ wide strips.
  • Soak strips in brine overnight or for up to 24 hours. Soaking longer will result in a more intense flavor.
  • Pull salmon from brine and cool in shade with a fan for 2 hours.
  • Place strips in smoker and smoke to desired dryness.

 

Fancy salmon salad

For Alaskans, canned salmon is an inevitable byproduct of a productive harvest. For almost everyone else, it’s just something in the back of the cupboard.

In either case, this recipe is an easy way to convert that can into a tasty dip or spread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint canned salmon
  • 1/4 onion and 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs fresh parsley
  • a dash of cayenne
  • 1 tsp lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper, red cabbage, dill or sweet pickle.

Directions:

  • Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and eat any way you like! It goes great on toasted bread.

Sadly, not everyone lives in Alaska. But it’s possible for anyone to fill their freezer with Alaskan sockeye. The Salmon Sisters ship large portions of wild-caught sockeye around the U.S. They sell 10 lbs of boneless, portioned salmon for $160.

If you choose to preserve your own fish, always follow directions exactly as stated from reputable sources. My favorite reference is A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing and Smoking Meat, Fish and Game by Wilbur F. Eastman Jr.

Do you have questions or comments about this piece? Email them to us at [email protected]

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about the author

Renee Howard

Renee is a photographer and writer based out of South-central Alaska. Her interest in bridging gaps between all manner of outdoor sports, philosophy, folk culture and backwoods artistry is a significant motivation for her work.

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