Copper River Sockeye Salmon, Pink Peppercorns

copper river sockeye, copper river salmon, pink peppercorns

Pan-Seared Copper River Sockeye Salmon, Pink Peppercorns
Blistered Shishito Peppers

The celebration continues! Taste With The Eyes is 4-years-old and we’re splurging with Copper River Salmon. The most expensive fresh salmon is only available for about four weeks of the year, from mid-May through mid-June, when the King salmon swim up the Copper River in Alaska to spawn. At our local Bristol Farms Market, Copper River King Salmon was selling for $50/lb.! At $50/lb. the 8 oz. filet in the photo above would have cost $25. Market factors such as commercial harvest, supply and demand, plus the cost of oil have pushed the price from $40 last season to this all time high of $50.

Even for the crème de la crème of salmon, this price is out of range for most people (myself included). In fact, after speaking with the fishmonger at the market, I learned that they were unable to sell their entire shipment of Copper River King at that price, and some had tragically gone to waste. The good news was that Copper River Sockeye sales went way up, as folks were introduced to this smaller, more plentiful species of salmon. Some say that sockeye has the truest pure salmon flavor and is preferred by aficionados.

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Salmon with Cantaloupe, Horseradish Vinaigrette


Fresh Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
Cubed Cantaloupe, Drizzled with Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
Horseradish Vinaigrette, Crispy Fried Shallot
Embellished with Celery Leaves and Lime Zest

served with
Andrew Rich 2008 Roussanne Columbia Valley

We had spied this magical salmon recipe in the July issue of  Food & Wine magazine on our flight to Portland, Oregon. I was hooked just reading about the pairing of salmon with cantaloupe, but it was the horseradish vinaigrette with fresh lime juice, brown sugar, and fish sauce that put it over-the-top. And as it turns out, a friend in Portland had just returned from Alaska with her catch of sockeye salmon.

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Bejeweled Salmon

Fresh Wild Kenai River Sockeye Salmon
Roasted with Creme Fraiche
Over Emerald Seaweed Salad
Topped with Coral Ikura

Seaweed Salad: Mix bright green seaweed with a small amount of toasted sesame oil, seasoned rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds.

Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper. To get the skin extra crispy, I put the salmon skin-side down over a sizzling hot teaspoon of olive oil in a ovenproof sauté pan and sear on the stove top over high heat for a few minutes.

Then top the salmon with crème fraîche and finish by roasting in a 400° oven. Serve over the seaweed salad, top with ikura (salmon roe). The terrific idea for roasting salmon with crème fraîche is not mine. I read Molly Wizenberg’s story of her father’s Alaskan fishing trips in Bon Appétit, and being a big fan of this French cultured cream, I thought I would try her method. The charming story can be found here.

Bejeweled Salmon: Coral & Emerald
Alaskan salmon, prepared French/Japanese fusion style, has bright clean flavors, a variety of interesting textures, and is a visual stunner!

Cedar Plank Salmon

Fresh Wild Sockeye Salmon
Grilled on a Cedar Plank
Brown Sugar Mustard Rub

Soak the cedar plank in water for a minimum of 2 hours. You will need something heavy to weigh down the plank to keep it submerged. Fire up the grill, heat the smooth side of the plank directly over the flame. Turn the plank over and brush olive oil on the smooth side. Place the fish, skin side down, directly on the hot plank.

I prepared this fish first by mixing olive oil with a squeeze of lemon juice and rubbing that on the fish, then seasoning with salt and pepper.
When the plank was ready, I placed the fish on the plank and coated it with a mix of course-ground Dijon mustard and brown sugar.

Grill on high heat, close the lid and cook to desired doneness. This fillet took about 15 minutes. You need to keep on eye on the grill as the cedar can catch fire, if it does, douse with some water. I had soaked the plank for about 3 1/2 hours and it did not catch fire. I did turn down the heat directly under the plank however.

Using a long-handled spatula, lift the plank off the grill and place it on a heat-proof platter. Serve the fish directly from the plank.
You can visit my new blogger friend, Fishmonger Ran, at Don’t Fear Fish for more details on Cedar Plank Cooking.
Great presentation! Wonderful cedar-y aromatics! The fish is subtly imparted with the true deep flavors of the wood. Can’t wait to try this method with other fish, meat, and vegetables!

My Julia Child Floribunda Roses

August 15 is Julia Child’s birthday. In celebration, Lisa of Champaign Taste blog has hosted the Third Annual Julia Child Birthday Event. Please visit Champaign Taste to watch Julia make an omelette on The French Chef (oh, the memories) and to see the delicious ways other bloggers celebrated Julia’s birthday. Thanks again, Lisa!

Wild Salmon Dinner Party

The White Cane is a vessel in Bristol Bay, Alaska fished by Randy Houghton for 36 years. Randy was born with macular degeneration, a visual disorder that rendered him legally blind with only peripheral vision…hence the name White Cane. In spite of his visual handicap, Randy, with the help of his crew and improved technology, is able to successfully operate his 32 ft. fishing vessel in the Bristol Bay waters.
Very recently, the White Cane and a few other dedicated fishers decided to independently harvest their catch of sockeye with the goal of producing the finest quality of fish in Bristol Bay. The have assured that the sockeye are maintained at a temperature of 34 degrees while on the vessel, and processed and packaged within 24 hours. Because of the fishers’ experience, their overall diligence and care, we enjoyed this #1 rated Wild Sockeye Salmon at our party!
This was a fabulous and unique dinner party for several reasons:

  • It was a five course dinner, four of the courses were salmon from the Bristol Bay in Alaska! (We passed on a salmon dessert)
  • The fisherman flew into LA just to join us for dinner and teach us all about the salmon.
  • Everyone took part in the food preparation
  • Good wine, good friends, new friends, fun music
  • The finest of fish…
Menu



Starters

Lox Platter (Cold Smoked Sockeye) and Smoked Sockeye Salmon Spread
Construct your own canapés with Creme Fraiche, Chopped Egg, Chives, Capers, Lemon, Olives, Cream Cheese, Toasted Baguette, Crackers
Soup
Manhattan Salmon Chowder: Fragrant Tomato Chowder with Orange Zest, Pernod, Topped with Warm Steamed Sockeye

Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio

Salad


Sockeye Salmon Mousse & Mixed Greens with Herbs, Rice Wine Shallot Vinaigrette

Main Course


(Please see 3/09/08 post for complete recipe)
Slow Roasted Wild Sockeye, Red Potatoes, Citrus Herb Vinaigrette


Dessert

Lemon Sorbet with Limoncello and Chiffonade of Fresh Basil

Bristol Bay fishing photos courtesy of White Cane Sockeye Salmon. For more information on Wild Alaskan Sockeye straight from the fisherman contact our new friend Randy and his wife, Janis, at wcsockeye@yahoo.com.

Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon

This unique species of salmon begin their lives by spawning in the Alaskan fresh water lakes that flow into the Naknek and Egegik river systems. After living and growing for 1 to 2 years in these pristine waters, they make their way down river and thrive for another 2 to 3 years in the cold waters of the North Pacific and the Bering Sea.
During their life in the Pacific Ocean, the sockeye feed on plankton and krill, this gives them their bright red color.

Also their unique natural diet promotes their healthy high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. On their return to the bay as mature wild sockeye salmon, the fish are selectively harvested only after enough salmon have returned safely to their spawning grounds. The fishery is carefully monitored to allow future generations of sockeye the same life cycle, and preserve this wonderful and unique salmon species. They are truly one of the healthiest fish to eat in the world.
This fabulous salmon was fished by Randy Houghton and his crew of White Cane Sockeye Salmon.

Slow Roasted Wild Sockeye, Red Potatoes, Citrus Herb Vinaigrette
Red Potatoes are sliced on a mandoline, layered into the roasting pan, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper. Baked at 425 for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Lemon slices are scattered over the potatoes, topped with the seasoned sockeye, and more lemon slices and pitted kalamata olives. Roasted at 250 for 25 to 30 minutes (or to your preference).
Citrus Herb Vinaigrette: 4 parts olive oil, 2 parts lemon juice, 1 part orange juice, salt and pepper are whisked together. Mix in fresh thyme leaves and chopped basil. When the salmon is cooked, the vinaigrette is generously ladled over the warm fish.
This excellent recipe was inspired by one in Country Living magazine.