Tag Archives: salmon

Smoked Steelhead Chowder

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I’ve said it before and I can’t help but say it again.  I love living in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon.  And, if you have a few minutes, I’ll give you three reasons why.  First of all, it’s a beautiful place. There are mountains, lakes, and rivers just minutes away.  Second, it’s not crowded like large metropolitan cities such as Portland or Seattle.  You can drive 20 minutes in any direction and end up somewhere in the beautiful Southern Oregon countryside.  Third, I think that it has the best of both worlds.  There’s plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and camping and also there’s the nearby Oregon Shakespeare Festival, dozens of vineyards and microbreweries, and a number of wonderful restaurants that feature spectacular local ingredients.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Rogue River in Southern Oregon

I always love visiting the Rogue River.  Whether it be for hiking along the banks, rafting or my favorite river activity, fishing.  One day on my lunch hour, I briefly stopped by the Rogue River near Touvelle State Park and decided to snap a few photos.  It was a bit overcast that afternoon but the temperature was nearly perfect.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Looking down at the river from the top of the bridge, it’s easy to imagine large fish swimming in the cold deep water below the surface.  And, if you are lucky, you might even see one!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA fly fisherman on the Rogue River

Many types of fish inhabit the Rogue River.  There’s steelhead trout, Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, green sturgeon, coho salmon, and so many more species of fish.  My two favorites are steelhead trout and Chinook salmon.  I prepare those varieties of fish quite often for my family.  As a matter of fact, I serve fish for my family at least once a week.  When selecting fish, I prefer to prepare wild caught fish as opposed to farm raised fish.  In my opinion, the flavor is better, there are no chemicals or additives, no color enhancements or antibiotics.  If given a choice between wild and farm raised fish, the decision is easy.  Wild caught fish is your best bet.

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My Smoked Steelhead Chowder is a deliciously creamy soup made with smoky bacon, roasted russet potatoes, tender onion, fresh  thyme and a splash of heavy cream.  It’s prepared similarly to a  New England style clam chowder but with smoked tender steelhead instead.  It’s great with a slice of warm crusty bread, a crispy green salad or a hot grilled sandwich.  If you are not able to obtain smoked steelhead where you live, feel free to substitute the smoked steelhead with some good quality smoked salmon instead.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound Smoked Steelhead Trout (skin and bones removed, chopped coarsely)
  • 5 cups Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tbs. Butter
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 2 Tbs. Tomato paste
  • 1 pound Russet Potatoes – peeled and diced
  • 1 large White Onion – peeled and diced
  • 4 oz. Bacon – chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh Thyme
  • 1 – 2 tsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Seasoning Salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper (or to taste)
  • fresh minced Parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a sheet tray or baking pan toss together diced potatoes, diced onions, 1 to 2 tsp. olive oil and seasoning salt.  Arrange potatoes and onions in a single layer to ensure even cooking.  Bake until the potatoes and onions begin to turn golden brown or about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, grab a large heavy pot and place it on the stove.  Turn burner to medium high heat.  Add chopped bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon and set aside.  Turn down heat to low, add 2 Tbs. butter and 1/3 cup flour to the remaining bacon fat to make a blonde roux.  Whisk flour mixture constantly, taking care not to burn, and cook until a very light golden brown.  Whisk 5 cups milk and 2 Tbs. tomato paste and cook until almost ready to boil, whisking constantly.  Add smoked steelhead, bacon, potatoes, onions, 1 tsp. fresh thyme, 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning.  Cook, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened and the flour taste has disappeared, for about 1/2  hour.  Add heavy cream, taste and correct your seasonings. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped smoked steelhead trout and fresh minced parsley.  Makes about 2 quarts or 8 servings.

Smoked Salmon Dip

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASmoked Salmon Dip

It’s late October and I’m having a tough time giving up my warm weather habits…  I’m resisting the impending cold weather as long as I can.  Even if it is a bone chilling 32 degrees outside, I still prefer to order my latte over ice early in the morning on my way to work.  I know that once I start to order it piping hot, I’m going to be drinking it that way until the warm weather arrives again in the spring.  I look at it this way, we still have at least another week of glorious warm weather here in Southern Oregon and I am going to take advantage of it.  That means getting outdoors and enjoying the bright sunshine while it is still here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASmoked Chinook Salmon

While preparing my Smoked Salmon Dip for an appetizer for a dinner party later this evening, I spied some cedar waxwings in one of the trees outside my kitchen window.  I immediately stopped what I was doing and grabbed my camera.  Cedar waxwings are sleek crested medium sized birds that frequent my neighborhood in the fall of the year.  They arrive in large noisy flocks to eat the fruit off of the flowering crab apple tree in the back of the yard.  Cedar waxwings are distinctive for they look like little bandits with dark black masks streaked across their faces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACedar Waxwing

Another way of identifying a cedar waxwing is by the glossy dark grey wing feathers and bright yellow tip on its tail.  Cedar waxwings are similar to Bohemian waxwings but are smaller in size.

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A pair of cedar waxwings deciding on which juicy berry they are going to pick first.  The one on top of the photo is a juvenile.  You can tell by the lightly mottled brown feathers on its breast and back.  By next spring its plumage will look like the mature adult perched on the branch below.

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Cedar waxwings are without a doubt, greedy little birds.  They are in the trees as soon as the sun comes up in the morning, and they stay throughout the day, gobbling up as much fruit as they can fit into their bellies.  It’s amazing to see how many berries one single bird will gulp down.  Within a few short weeks all of the fruit will be stripped from the trees.  Regardless of what the calendar says, that in my mind, officially marks the end of the warm summer months…

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After snapping a few photos of the cedar waxwings, I resumed preparing my Smoked Salmon Dip.  My Smoked Salmon Dip is light, flavorful and easy to make. It’s made with good quality smoked Oregon Chinook salmon, fluffy cream cheese, light sour cream, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, fresh squeezed lemon juice, hot sauce, salt and pepper.  My Smoked Salmon Dip tastes amazing on crackers, toasts, chips and even fresh vegetables.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces smoked salmon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • a few dashes hot sauce (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • garnish with bits of smoked salmon or fresh snipped herbs

Begin by placing the cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and hot sauce in a medium sized bowl.  Using a hand mixer, whip the cream cheese mixture until it is light and fluffy.  Be sure to use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure that the mixture is well incorporated.  Break apart the smoked salmon into smaller pieces removing the skin or any bones.   Add smoked salmon to the cream cheese mixture and blend well.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Keep chilled.  Place in a dish and serve.  Garnish with bits of smoked salmon and herbs.  Makes approximately two cups.

Grilled Steelhead Trout

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGrilled Steelhead Trout

Now that the spring in Southern Oregon is in full force and the weather is warm, I prefer to prepare many of our meals outside on the backyard barbecue.  Our barbecue sits out on the back deck only a few short steps from the kitchen.  When barbecuing meals for our family, I simply roll the barbecue in front of the sliding glass door so I can easily keep an eye on the grill temperature and quickly deal with any flare ups as they may occur.

During the work week, I often cook fish for dinner for Bruce and myself.  I love to cook fish because it is quick, easy, healthy and most importantly, we both enjoy it.  What I enjoy about living in Southern Oregon is that we have access to some really great species of fish. For local fish, Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, bass and steelhead top the list. If we take a short drive west to the Oregon Coast, we have access to ling cod, tuna, and snapper fresh from the ocean.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABear Creek earlier this spring….

Bear Creek is a tributary of the Rogue River here in Southern Oregon.  Bear Creek runs through the middle of the Rogue Valley and during certain times of the year, you can actually see salmon and steelhead making their journey back from the ocean to their spawning grounds a few miles upstream.  Bear Creek is home to many species of plants and animals including otters, beavers, ducks, and turtles.

Of all the fish that I cook for my family, steelhead is one of my favorite fish to prepare.  Steelhead trout lead a different lifestyle as compared to the other species of trout that inhabit our local creeks, lakes and reservoirs.  It’s an anadromous fish and that means it is born in the fresh water, spends most of its life in the salt water ocean and returns later in life back to the fresh water stream where it was born to spawn.

My Grilled Steelhead Trout is simple to prepare and perfect for a busy weekday meal.  Steelhead trout is similar in texture and taste to salmon.  Just marinate the fresh fillets in a homemade teriyaki sauce, toss on the grill and within minutes dinner is done. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 12-16 ounce steelhead fillet (use salmon if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (see recipe below)
  • toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Wash and skin the steelhead fillet. Cut the fish into large serving sized pieces.  Marinate the fish in teriyaki sauce for at least 1/2 hour.  Heat up the barbecue and lightly oil the grates.  Place fillets on hot barbecue.  If you don’t have a barbecue, that’s okay…  Feel free to prepare the fish on a grill pan on your stove or broil it in your oven. Cook for only a few minutes, flipping fish only once.  Fish is done when it begins to flake with a fork.  Be sure to not over cook.  Remove from heat, drizzle with teriyaki sauce and serve.  Makes 2 – 3 servings.

Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 Tbs cornstarch

In a medium sized saucepan whisk together soy sauce, sugar, mirin, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch.  On medium low, cook mixture stirring occasionally for a half an hour or so until mixture has thickened.  Let cool.  Any leftover teriyaki sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

 

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon

There’s never a shortage of salmon when you live in Oregon.  Bruce and I eat salmon quite often because it’s delicious, quick to prepare and most importantly, one of our favorite local ingredients.  Salmon is so versatile too.  We barbecue it, make salmon chowder, poach it, bake it, put it in tacos, make sandwiches out of it, and even put it in dips.  The number of ways to prepare fresh caught salmon is virtually endless…

Yesterday I fired up our smoker for the first time this year.  We had guests coming over for dinner later in the evening and I thought that fresh smoked salmon would be a fabulous appetizer with cream cheese and crackers.

If you are going to smoke salmon, you need to prepare the fish the day before and be ready to smoke it the next day.  Smoking salmon is really a simple process but does take a little bit of time once the salmon is in the smoker.  I like to grab a good book and have an ice cold beverage on hand during the smoking process.  Using the smoker forces me to sit down and relax for an hour or so while the fish is being smoked.

For the recipe, I adapted Alton Brown’s smoked salmon recipe.  In my opinion, any recipe by created by Alton Brown is a winner.  I’m a complete fan :).

The salmon is almost done and ready to be pulled off the smoker!  Now, all I have to do is brush it with a bit of Indonesian Soy Sauce, cover it again, and let smoke for about 15 more minutes until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  When it’s done, gently pull it off the smoker, let it cool slightly and it will be ready to serve.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Salmon filet (skin on, scaled, rib and pin bones removed)
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tbs Indonesian Soy Sauce

Begin the night before by preparing mixing the salt, white sugar, brown sugar and cracked black pepper.  Grab a large pan and line with plastic wrap.  Put 1/3 of salt/sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan.  Place the salmon skin side down in pan.  I cut my filet in half so it could fit in the pan and in my smoker.  Take remaining mixture and cover the top of the salmon.  Place plastic wrap directly on salmon and weigh down the fish with bricks or cast iron bacon presses.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

The next day…  Take the salmon out of the refrigerator and rinse well under cold water.  Pat dry.  It’s important to not skip this step.  Start up your smoker.  The internal temperature must be 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  I used hickory chips for a wonderful smokey flavor.

Place salmon on rack in smoker and smoke covered until the temperature of the fish reaches 130 degrees.  Brush top of salmon with Indonesian Soy Sauce.  Put lid back on and continue to smoke until the fish reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  Gently remove from smoker, let cool slightly and serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers for up to three days.

Grilled Salmon Tacos

Grilled Salmon Tacos

Here in Southern Oregon, there is never a shortage of fresh salmon.  Even if local salmon is not in season, our stores carry it year round…  My grilled salmon tacos are quick and easy for busy weeknights or lazy weekends.  They are healthy, flavorful and you could easily have dinner knocked out in less than an hour.  Makes about 4 to 6 salmon tacos.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound salmon filet cut into large pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dark chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 to 6 warmed corn tortillas
  • garnish with about 1 cup shredded purple cabbage, 1 cup shredded carrots, lime wedges and pico de gallo (see recipe below).

Toss salmon pieces in olive oil, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.  On a hot grill pan, cook salmon about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until opaque.  Whatever you do, try not to overcook it.  Salmon cooks fast!  Fill the warmed corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and the grilled salmon.  Squeeze on some lime juice and spoon on some pico de gallo.  I told you it was easy!  Makes about 4 to 6 tacos.

Pico De Gallo

Mix together 1 cup chopped tomato, 1/4 cup chopped onion, and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.  Toss with juice of 1/2 lime, salt and pepper.

Salmon Cakes

Salmon Cakes

I love living in Southern Oregon.  We may not have the fanciest of restaurants like faraway places such as New York, Los Angeles or even Paris but we do have some amazing local ingredients at our fingertips.  And fresh salmon is definitely one of them.

I remember the very first time I caught a salmon on the Rogue River not far from my home.  The Chinook salmon that I caught was almost three feet long and it pulled so hard that it felt like I was reeling in a Volkswagen bus. It took me about twenty minutes (it seemed like an eternity) and all of my strength to successfully land that fish.  I will never forget that day.  I had such a great time!

Well, it has been many years since I caught a fish that big but I know that if I want to prepare fresh salmon, all I have to do is stop by my local grocery store or butcher.  Even if salmon is not in season, I know that I can always find a good quality frozen salmon filet in the freezer section of my local grocery store.  My Salmon Cakes are a wonderful representation of Southern Oregon cuisine.  They are light, flavorful and have a wonderful salmon flavor.  They are made with delicate panko bread crumbs, onion, celery, shredded carrots, fresh herbs and spices.  You can make about 10 large (3 ounce) cakes or two dozen smaller cakes for tasty little appetizers.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound cooked flaked salmon (no bones)
  • 1 cup celery and leaves (diced fine)
  • 3/4 cup white onion (minced)
  • 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrot
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • canola oil for frying

In a nonstick fry pan, on a medium flame, cook the celery, onion, parsley, carrots, butter and Old Bay seasoning until the onions are cooked or about 5 minutes.  Let cool. In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and eggs.  Gently fold in the salmon, the vegetable mixture and the panko bread crumbs.   Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Using a 3 ounce scoop, form mixture into 10 patties.  Fry patties in a small bit of canola oil in a non stick pan.  Use only a tablespoon or more of the oil because you want the nonstick pan to do all the work.  Cook about 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through.  Remove from heat.  Serve with lemon wedges or your favorite dipping sauce such as tartar or cocktail sauce.