Whenever my family sits down to a salmon dinner we always have the same debate: do you eat the crispy, burnt salmon skin or does it go to the side of the plate with the stray bones?
My mother is a member of Club No Salmon Skin, which works out in my favor if I’m quick enough to get to her plate before my dad, who is on the same side as me – salmon skin is super delicious when it’s cooked just right.
So I set out to cook a salmon fillet with the sole purpose of making the skin crispy. It was surprisingly easy! I tried a couple of methods and found most success with these directions from Bon Appétit.
And don’t worry, if you’re not a fan of salmon skin, just peel it away and still enjoy this delicious method of cooking wild Alaska salmon.
How to cook wild Alaska salmon with crispy skin
1 fillet of Bristol Bay Sockeye salmon
salt and pepper
Lemon Dijon sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Remove the pin bones from your wild Alaska salmon fillet. A helpful trick is to place a mixing bowl upside-down on the counter and lay the fillet across it. The curvature allows the bones to stick out slightly and makes it easier for needle nose pliers to grasp them.
Slice the fillet into portions about 6-8 ounces each (should make 2-3). Pat them dry on both sides with paper towels and place them skin side up on a plate. Let sit uncovered in the fridge for one hour.
Liberally coat a cast iron skillet with olive oil. Place the salmon skin side down in the pan and turn on the heat to high.
Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium flame and whisk in the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and mustard. Bring to a light simmer and add pepper to taste. Turn off heat and set aside.
Cook the salmon skin side down for about 7 minutes. There is no exact science to this as some fillets are thicker than others. The flesh should be opaque around the sides and there should be a ring of raw salmon in the middle of the fillet. Turn off the heat and carefully turn the fillets in the pan with a fish spatula. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes from the residual heat of the skillet. This should be enough to cook the salmon through as most of the cooking happened while the skin was getting crispy.
See how lovely and charred your salmon skin is? It’s ok if it’s a little burnt – that’s the good stuff right there.
Serve your salmon fillets with rice and veggies. Top the rice and veggies with the lemon Dijon sauce (but don’t pour it over the salmon. You don’t want the skin to get soggy!)
After munching down the salmon skin, sop bites of the salmon in the sauce on your plate. It’s so good!
Every summer I look forward to the week of our wedding anniversary; and not because I’m a hopeless romantic — because it’s sockeye salmon season on the Kenai River.
My husband is never here to celebrate our anniversary during the second week of July because he’s dipnetting three hours away.
And although I love a good fresh grilled salmon steak (last night we grilled them over alder branches), it’s the roe that I crave. We usually brine the roe in a simple salt and water solution and serve them with crackers and white wine. You can read my post from last year about wild salmon caviar.
Today, though, a friend dutifully gave me his roe from the silver salmon he caught in Seward over the weekend. When I went to process them I realized they were too small and delicate. Pushing them through a metal grate was ruining them. I didn’t want to waste them so I thought outside the box. Or inside the box, rather, as my dad had just removed some red salmon lox from his smoker.
I found this incredibly simple recipe for smoked salmon roe and decided to give it a try. It turned out splendidly! A friend told me it tasted a bit like smoked oysters. I will definitely try it again, but I might rinse the eggs of their salt brine before smoking them as they are a bit on the salty side.
This recipe assumes that you know how to use a smoker. I only say this because my dad is the smoke master in my family and I haven’t learned to operate one. All I can say is we cold smoked the eggs since heat would ruin the texture altogether.
Make sure the roe is fresh, fresh, fresh. That means it’s either been in a freshly caught fish or if the fish was processed on the beach that the eggs were kept on ice the entire time for no more than two days.
Smoked Salmon Roe
Rinse the salmon roe skeins in fresh cold water to remove any grit. Pat them dry with paper towels and dredge them in kosher salt.
Place them on a rimmed baking sheet in the fridge for 20 minutes. In the meantime, turn on your smoker.
Remove the skeins from the fridge and rinse them again under cold water. Pat dry. Rinse off the baking sheet and wipe dry. Place the skeins back on the tray.
Place your baking sheet on the top shelf and leave the smoker door slightly ajar. Smoke for 30-45 minutes.
Place roe in fridge until cold. Use a butter knife to scrape the eggs away from the skein membrane. Store in a jar for up to 5 days (but they shouldn’t last that long, really). Enjoy on crackers or in any way you deem fit. Today I made sushi with the smoked roe. It was fabulous.
With a new year comes New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve decided to join the countless others who resolve to eat more healthily. As a contributor to Anchorage Food Mosaic Project, I was recently asked what my Food Year’s Resolution was. Fewer cheeseburgers was the first thing that came to mind, but also to cut down on carbs and to eat more healthily in general.
My husband and I are trying out the South Beach Diet, which is a low sugar and carb regimen. The first phase is pretty strict, but that doesn’t limit my ability to cook delicious food.
Today’s lunch was quick to prepare and pretty dang delicious. I love me some smoked salmon, but that stuff is expensive. I wanted to make a dish that had the flavor of smoked salmon, but was a little easier on the pocketbook.
This salad recipe is chock full of nutrients and with the use of smoked paprika, it fulfilled my craving for smoked salmon. I purchased my canned salmon at Costco, but if you’re lucky to have an Alaska fisherman friend, you could certainly make this with fresh-cooked salmon!
Smokey salmon lettuce wraps — A South Beach Diet phase 1 recipe
If you live in Southcentral Alaska then you’re probably keenly aware it is sockeye salmon season. My husband is getting his hipwaders and dipnets all ready for the coming week where he will camp out on the shores of the Kenai River and make the most of the everlasting daylight by fishing into the wee hours of the night.
We still have some vacuum-packed filets in the freezer from last year so to make way for this year’s bounty we are trying to find creative ways to use it up. Sure, there’s nothing better than simple grilled salmon with a drizzle of lemon, but my dad started preparing poke out of the frozen filets that tops any store bought ahi poke.
Poke is a Hawaiian salad made of cubed sashimi such as ahi tuna, soy sauce, sesame oil, onions and hot chili sauce. It’s a bit like spicy tuna sushi without the rice and seaweed.
Here’s my dad’s recipe, which uses fresh-frozen sockeye, a.k.a. red, salmon. Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration recommends freezing fresh fish and thawing it before consuming it raw because this kills any parasites. This is how sushi-grade fish is prepared in America. The FDA also says cooking seafood is the safest way to consume it, so prepare poke at your own risk. If you are pregnant or are at risk for food-borne illness, then please be cautious about consuming fresh-frozen fish.
With that disclaimer out of the way, here’s my dad’s recipe!
Using a sharp filet knife, remove the skin from the salmon filets. If there are any pin bones, carefully remove them with needle nose pliers. Cut the salmon into bite-sized cubes.
Add all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. If you are not using the rice seasoning, add salt to taste. If you like a little more kick, add an extra tablespoon of the chili garlic sauce.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for later. Serve with sesame or rice crackers.
For more tasty Alaska recipes, check out my dad’s website.
It’s salmon season and for most that means filets, steaks and smoked salmon. We love all that in our family, but as soon as we hear of a friend going salmon fishing we think “roe!” We request that all our fishing friends keep the salmon eggs when they clean their fish and store them diligently on ice until they reach our clutches.
I grew up knowing all about brined salmon caviar: they were stinky, fishy, gooey and gross. But then I grew up and so did my palate. Now they are glimmering orange jewels that pop and melt in your mouth in salty bliss.
My father is the king of salmon roe preparation, so I have decided to reblog his Caviar Mania post from his site sausagemania.com (it’s for real, people). Visit his site for full photo tutorials on preparing sausage, lox, kippered salmon, and pesto.
How to Make Delicious Salmon Caviar at Home. Easy Recipes From SausageMania.com!
The designation “caviar” is traditionally applied to the salted, unfertilized roe of wild Caspian Sea sturgeon, a rapidly diminishing resource as neither Russia nor Iran are able (or willing) to end poaching. While Russian and Iranian caviar is an expensive luxury, going for as much as $500 an ounce, lesser caviars, made from the salted roe of salmon, lump fish, whitefish, steelhead, trout and other species of sturgeon, are more affordable substitutes.
CaviarMania is here to teach you how to make Salmon Caviar, specifically, caviar from Wild Alaskan Salmon.
Salmon Caviar is ridiculously simple to make. The most difficult part is getting hold of fresh salmon eggs. Fortunately, here in Alaska, salmon eggs are often discarded, or rolled in Borax, frozen, and used as bait – to catch more salmon, of course. So during the salmon runs in June through August, fresh eggs can be had in abundance if you have the right connections.
If you do not, then you need salmon – fresh, whole, uncleaned, iced salmon, and then you hope most of them are hens, that is, full of eggs. You can do without the fish, if you can tap into a good supply of fresh eggs, which, in Alaska, the home of SausageMania, LoxMania, KipperMania and now, CaviarMania, can often be done if you have fishing friends who are wiling to save the roe for you. A word of caution, however: you must know and trust your roe purveyor to care for the roe. If the fish have been left in the sun for a few hours before being cleaned, or the roe is not immediately iced, you may find youself spending time, energy and salt to produce an inferior product!
Two beautiful skeins of roe!
The only tools needed are a few bowls and a screen of 1/4″ or 5/16″ galvanized mesh to fit over one of the bowls, a large strainer and a 1-gallon ZipLoc bag. The only ingredients are the salmon eggs, salt and cold water. The most time-consuming part is pushing the eggs through the mesh. The brining time necessary to prepare the caviar varies from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs and your tolerance for saltiness.
A few words of caution about salmon roe: handle the skeins with care. Keep them cold at all times. Never, never, never freeze salmon roe unless you’re planning to make fish bait. The same goes for the finished product: freezing wrecks the eggs, and is especially harsh on the sensual “pop-ness” of the individual eggs as you eat them. Fresh caviar has a unique texture: you can feel each separate egg on the tongue, and each egg pops with a flavorful explosion. Frozen caviar is “dead.” It’s slushy, slimy and inert.
OK, so now you have several skeins of fresh, cold salmon eggs from a reputable source. From which species of salmon? Eggs from sockeye (red) and pink (humpy) salmon are small, and require less brining time. Eggs from Coho (silver) salmon are larger and require more brining. Eggs from king (Chinook) salmon, and from chum (dog or keta) salmon are the largest, and need the longest time. (Keta eggs are prized by Russians, who feel they make the best salmon caviar.)
Whatever kind of roe you have, you will need a galvanized screen to separate the eggs from their membranous attachment. A galvanized mesh screen with 1/4 – 5/16” holes is the best; cut it to fit tightly over a large bowl. Then get hold of some non-iodized salt. Coarse is better than fine.
Spread each skein, membrane side up, on the screen and work the eggs through the screen and through the mesh with your fingers. Membranes will get caught in the screen, so every now and again, remove the stuck membranes and discard. From time to time, remove the screen, and gently scrape off the eggs hanging from the bottom with a rubber or plastic spatula.
Next, fill a large bowl with the coldest water you can get and dissolve enough salt in it until you have a saturated saline solution, meaning that there will be undissolved excess salt in the bottom. Pour the separated eggs into the cold brine and gently stir. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
After ten minutes, take a spoonful of eggs and place in a small strainer, then rinse them in running cold water to rinse off the exterior salt. Taste them. If not salty enough, wait another five minutes and taste again. When the eggs are salty enough for your taste, pour them into a large strainer and rinse them with running cold water, gently turning them over and over with your hands to wash off all the outside salt.
At this stage, the eggs still have active osmotic cell walls, so, if you over-salted them, just soak them in cold water for several minutes, and the salt will travel back out of the eggs and into the water. Once you are completely satisfied with the saltiness of the product, place the egg-laden strainer in a large bowl and fill a gallon ZipLoc bag with cold water. Place the bag on top of the eggs and put the bowl with strainer, eggs and ZipLoc in the refrigerator overnight. The weight of the ZipLoc bag packs and compresses the eggs, which helps make them spreadable onto crackers or whatever you wish to spread them on. Now you have caviar! It will last 7-10 days in the fridge, after which it won’t spoil, but will acquire an unpleasant fishy taste. If you have a vacuum packer, you can vacuum-pack the jars, which will allow the product to remain decent from 2-3 weeks, if refrigerated, before becoming “fishy.”
Unless you have a vacuum packer that will evacuate Mason jars, you’ll need to punch a hole in the tops of the jars to let the air out, and vacuum-pack them in bags. They will then keep in the fridge for up to three weeks.
Now that you’ve finished, what are you going to do with all that caviar? Well, it’ll go faster than you think. You can spread it on crackers, make Blini or Caviar Omelets (but don’t make them “hard” or you’ll ruin the caviar). If you make Blini, serve with iced vodka.
I’ve not cooked much with my 21-month-old son, but last week he did a great job of sprinkling cheese on some focaccia I was baking, so I knew he’d be able to assist in the salmon cheddar grills we whipped up for lunch. When I mentioned I would need his help in the kitchen, Jack explained to his dad, “Help mama make snack,” so he knew something special was about to happen.
These salmon grills are perfect if you’re introducing fish to your little picky eater as the fishy taste is almost completely disguised by the cheesiness. Jack eats just about anything so I knew they’d be a hit. They were easy to prepare and after a few minutes in the toaster oven we had lunch for two.
2 oz. light garlic and herb cheese spread (Alouette or Laughing Cow is good)
2 tsp. green onion or chive, finely chopped
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 English muffins or slices 0f rustic bread
Drain the salmon and break it up with a fork in a mixing bowl. Add the cheese spread, green onions and half the cheese. Add pepper to taste. Mix well. Spread onto the bread and top with more cheddar. Place in the toaster oven or broiler till cheese is all bubbly. Enjoy!