Revisiting A Tired, Old Standard: Salmon

As I may have mentioned, I like steak. And pulled pork. And sausage. And roasted beef marrow. And cheese. And butter. Oh, I’ll admit it; I like fat. But as many of us must eventually admit, my waistline and coronary arteries are less enamored than my taste buds of those luscious lipids. Besides, there are foods that taste great but don’t have a gall-bladder-exhausting dose of fat. The default for many people when their doctors say to lose weight and cut out some fat, is fish. And the fish that seems to be one of the most popular, at least judging by what is always front-and-center in the display case and at restaurants, is salmon. But salmon is boring. I ate lots and lots of salmon in my youth. I used to dive for abalone on the North Coast of California, and then trade one or two with the fish mongers at my favorite store. And I would invariably get a big salmon (among other fun stuff) in the transaction. But after eating what seemed like tons of the stuff, it got a bit tedious. However, my bathroom scale has been agitating for a more moderate diet, so last night I dipped my toes into the salmon ocean again.

Instead of cooking the same old recipe, I tried to duplicate something that I had eaten at a wonderful restaurant in San Francisco called Aqua. It was a salmon steak, but they skinned and boned it, and cooked it gently in a simple sauce. It was great, and didn’t taste anything like what I expected. Skinning is easy, but I had to pull out a pair of pliers to remove the tiny bones near the spine. I also carefully cut the spine out of the steak, and was left with two halves, which I rolled together to make a round steak about 4 inches in diameter. I put a thin silicone band around it to keep it from falling apart while I cooked it, and then I made a simple marinade of vinegar, honey, mustard, shallots and cayenne pepper.

The toughest part was deciding how to cook it. I didn’t want a typical grilled or sautéed steak, but I do like a bit of color. So I split the difference and sautéed it briefly, just enough to brown the flesh a bit, and then popped it into a warm oven for another five or six minutes.  It turned out very well. The  flesh was moist and tender, and had a delicate flavor that I certainly wouldn’t associate with salmon. Because the steak was uniform, it cooked perfectly, without the overdone parts that I find really unpleasant. The extra few minutes of preparation was definitely worth the trouble. To complete my transformation into a metrosexual, I sautéed snap peas with a bit of lime juice as a dressing. My wife loved them. I wasn’t as happy. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

6 Replies to “Revisiting A Tired, Old Standard: Salmon”

  1. Please don’t build straw men on my blog! This was Scottish, farm-raised salmon. As for PCBs? I’m not worried. I manage my risk by wearing my safety belt whenever I am in a car, refraining from smoking, staying fit and not sharing needles. My remaining risk is trivial. And that dye that seems to terrify you? It is the same stuff that wild salmon eat, it’s just in purified form.This blog is most decidedly not for people who are afraid of food. There are many blogs that cater to people’s fears and conspiracy theories. This isn’t one of them. You are welcome here if you would like to have amiable discussions about interesting food, drinks, restaurants, wine and whatever else tickles your taste buds. otherwise I am sure that you will be able to find what you are looking for on other blogs.Thanks.

  2. Sounds like a nice meal. Salmon can be all things; fishy and dry, bland and mushy, or full of fat and flavor. Your buddy Escoffier, (bow your head when you utter His name), gave it the moniker of “king of fish and fish of kings”. At least that’s a good story. Anyway.To deny the difference in quality between wild and farmed salmon is akin to dismissing the “snow-job” we got about 9/11. Both involve not using ones natural born intelligence and discernment.Even “previously frozen” wild salmon is yards tastier and healthier than the farmed.And what does Truther refer to?

  3. Mea culpa! I did not mean to cast aspersions on the prince of chefs. In my defense, I was poking fun at my less-than-intelligent commenter. I think that some of the farm-raised salmon is pretty good. Is it as good as the wild stuff? No, but sometimes wild isn’t available, and I will settle for Scottish farmed salmon. As I mentioned, I used to get fresh Pacific salmon all the time. And it was very good, although I did notice significant variation. Maybe it’s seasonal? What about the various Alaska salmon? Copper River, Coho, King? Any opinion?Truthers are loons who believe that the destruction of the World Trade Centers on 9/11/2001 was an inside job perpetrated by the U.S. government.

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