The pungent yet balanced flavors of Asian cuisine pair wonderfully with the bold flavor of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. This dish draws on classic ingredients from Japan, miso and soba noodles, and Thailand, peanuts and lime. Most grocery stores that carry one of the Asian ingredients used here will likely carry all, though if it’s a challenge to track any of them down you can take a look at the note below.
FOR THE GLAZE: Combine all the ingredients, then spread evenly over the salmon fillets, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour (or up to four).
FOR THE SOBA NOODLE SALAD: Blend the dressing ingredients in a food processor, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides with a spatula. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Cook the soba noodles until just tender throughout, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the noodles in a colander and then return to the pot. Run cold water into the pot while stirring the noodles until they are cool to the touch. Drain again and transfer to a large bowl. Add the peanuts, carrot, cucumber and ½ cup of green onions then toss with the dressing.
FOR THE SALMON: Adjust your oven racks so that one is in the middle and another is at the top under the broiler, then preheat to 350° F. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and allow it to sit for 15 minutes to come closer to room temperature. Arrange the fillets on a parchment-lined sheet tray and, using your fingers or a brush, ensure that the glaze is spread evenly over the fillets. Cook the salmon for about 8 minutes until just starting to turn opaque in the center. Remove from the oven and immediately turn on the broiler. Once the broiler is hot, place the tray underneath for two minutes to lightly caramelize the glaze.
TO FINISH: Pile soba noodles in the center of the plate, place a salmon fillet on top and garnish with the remaining green onions.
SERVE WITH: A lighter, lager-style beer (preferably from Japan) or a dry, new world Riesling.
Notes on Ingredients
Asian ingredients have become increasingly common in American grocery stores but if you are unable to locate any specified in this recipes you can try the substitutes listed below. Many Asian cuisines focus on balancing opposing flavors like sweet and sour, so keep that in mind and work according to your own tastes when making adjustments.
Mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine): used to add sweetness and an alcoholic bite, try substituting honey and a bit of vinegar.
Soba Noodles: Japanese pasta made with buckwheat, try substituting the thinnest whole wheat spaghetti you can find, breaking the noodles in half before cooking if they are long
Sriracha: Thai hot sauce with a garlicky finish, try substituting your favorite hot sauce brand and add chopped garlic if needed.
Chili Garlic Paste: Common to Thai and Vietnamese kitchens it is just what the name states: a puree of hot chili peppers and garlic. Try mashing garlic and mixing it with hot sauce.
Recipe & Photography by Bertram Whitman
Great omelets are made by cooking the eggs slowly over lower heat, developing a velvety texture and subtle flavor that compliments a filling like this hot-smoked Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Eggs that have been overly browned can get in the way of enjoying the rich taste and texture of hot-smoked sockeye. Crème fraîche and herbs round out the flavors, offering a touch more body and a balancing freshness. The addition of toasted brioche and dressed greens turns this into a meal that can be enjoyed any time you are craving Bristol Bay sockeye salmon.
TO CLARIFY BUTTER: In a small pot, melt 1 to 2 sticks of butter (the process is easier to do with more butter and any excess can be cooled for future use). Once the butter has melted and begun to bubble, the milk solids will clump and rise to the surface. Skim these until you can see clearly through to the bottom of the pot (some additional solids may settle there). Pour the clarified butter into a heat safe container, leaving any additional solids behind.
FOR THE BRIOCHE SOLDIERS: Cut the brioche into batons, pieces approximately ¾” wide on the sides and 3” in length (if unsliced brioche is unavailable, you may find brioche hot dog buns from which such pieces can be cut). Place clarified butter in a pan over medium heat and brown every surface of the soldiers (start by standing them on end, then finish with the sides for best results). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and set aside in a warm place.
FOR THE OMELET: Remove the salmon from the refrigerator approximately 15 minutes in advance to bring it closer to room temperature. Vigorously whisk the eggs until they are completely uniform and season with salt. Place a non-stick pan over medium heat and add approximately a ½ tablespoon of clarified butter. Add the eggs. For the best color and texture, an omelet should cook slowly without much stirring. As the eggs begin to cook, use a rubber spatula to gently loosen the edges, occasionally lifting them while tilting the pan so raw egg from the omelet’s surface can run underneath. When the omelet has just about set, spread the crème fraîche, sprinkle with herbs and add the salmon. Gently fold the omelet and slide onto the plate.
Recipe & Photography by Bertram Whitman
Poaching sockeye salmon to enjoy cold is a simple way to cook ahead for a crowd or to prepare a large piece of salmon to enjoy for days. To succeed you need two key elements: delicious fish and a flavorful liquid to cook it in. Bristol Bay sockeye salmon’s robust flavor makes it a star when poached and served cold, a method that produces a light, pinkish surface but a deep red-orange interior typical of wild sockeye. Here we serve the salmon with a fairly traditional herb sauce and a light salad, an ideal way to enjoy wild sockeye salmon in during warmer weather.
FOR THE COURT BOUILLON: Place the vegetables, bay leaf and water into a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer then add the white wine and vinegar and cook for 45 minutes. Add the peppercorns and cook for 15 more minutes, then strain into a second pot.
FOR THE SALMON: Preheat the oven to 200° F. Set the salmon into a parchment-lined oven-safe dish or pan with high sides (at least twice the height of the salmon’s thickest point) and sprinkle with salt. Place the dish with the salmon on a sheet tray to prevent spills later on and let the fish sit out for 15 minutes, bringing it closer to room temperature. Bring the court bouillon to a boil and remove the pot from the heat. Wait two minutes, then carefully pour the liquid into the dish with the salmon (off to one side if possible so as to avoid immediate contact with the fish) until the salmon is fully submerged. Carefully place the salmon into the oven for 12 minutes. When done, set the dish (still on its tray) in a safe place away from the stove and allow the salmon to cool in the liquid. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
FOR THE DILL SAUCE: Up to one day ahead, thoroughly mix together all the sauce ingredients except for the dill. Just before serving, roughly chop the dill and stir it into the sauce.
TO FINISH: Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and gently lift it from the pan using a large spatula to support the bottom. Place the salmon on paper towels to drain. In a large bowl, dress the frisée and sliced radishes with olive oil, lemon juice and salt then pile them onto a platter. Place the cold-poached Bristol Bay sockeye salmon on top and serve with a bowl of dill sauce alongside.
SERVE WITH: A rosé of Pinot Noir or a richer white wine like Chardonnay or Viognier.
Recipe & Photography by Bertram Whitman
When the autumn winds start to howl, soothe your soul and warm your bones with our Curried Sockeye and Mussel Chowder.
In a large heavy saucepan heat the oil over moderate heat, add the ginger, garlic and lemongrass. Cook, for about one minute, stirring. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, for an additional 30 seconds.
Add the wine and the coconut milk, stirring to combine, and simmer for about two minutes. Add the mussels, cover, and cook over moderately high heat for about 3 minutes, or until the mussels are opened. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the salmon strips gently, and let the chowder sit, covered, for about one minute, or until the salmon strips are just cooked through.
Season the chowder with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped fresh coriander. Transfer the mussels and the salmon to a wide bowl, ladle with the curry sauce, and sprinkle with additional coriander if desired. Serve with Indian naan or over a scoop of fluffy basmati rice.
--Melissa A. Trainer
Make the Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the mustard, vinegar, and honey. Add the oils in a stream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Make the Salad:
In a bowl combine the mixed greens with the apple, cranberries, and hazelnuts. Toss gently with some of the vinaigrette to taste. Divide the mixture amongst two plates. Top each bed of greens with goat cheese slices.
Pat the salmon dry and spray it with a little oil. Spray a nonstick skillet, preferably cast iron, with oil and preheat over moderately high heat. Sear the salmon for about 30 seconds on each side. Transfer the salmon to a preheated 400 F. oven and cook for about 4 to 6 minutes, or until the flesh is translucent.
Remove the skin if desired and put the seared salmon on top of the greens on each plate. Drizzle the salad with additional vinaigrette.
Variation for Serving: If you don’t want to toss the greens with the vinaigrette prior to putting them on the plates, then you can arrange the lettuces, apples, cranberries, hazelnuts and goat cheese on the plate and then drizzle the cooked salmon and the salad with the vinaigrette just before serving.
--Melissa A. Trainer
Are you looking for a quick savory way to stretch a rich red piece of sockeye? If so, try this Bristol Bay Sockeye Strips Technique. We first saw this unique technique while attending the July 4th Chamber of Commerce BBQ in Dillingham, Alaska.
Gorden Isaacs, who owns the Beaver Creek Bed and Breakfast with his wife Susan, was manning the grill and serving his signature salmon strips straight from a sizzling cast-iron skillet. Hot and savory, the strips were created by crosscutting skinless sockeye fillets and searing them in a cast-iron skillet for about 15 seconds in total. The strips can be blackened before searing or they can be seared unadorned.
When we discovered the strips, we instinctively knew they were a winner. Quick, affordable, and versatile, the strips lend themselves to an array of dishes such as sandwiches, tacos, and salads. The technique can be used on whole fresh fillets, previously frozen fillets, and on the individually wrapped flash frozen fillets.
When we tested the technique, we used the individual flash frozen fillets. Convenient and readily available, we like using these fillets because it is relatively easy to remove the skin during the preparation. If you buy a whole fresh fillet, you might ask the fishmonger to remove the skin for you.
Bristol Bay Sockeye Strips Technique:
2 six-ounce flash frozen sockeye fillets
Get a cutting board and, if possible, lay a piece of parchment on the cutting board.
Using a sharp chef’s knife or a fillet knife, remove the salmon skin by making a small slit between the side of the salmon skin and the salmon flesh. (Do not attempt to make the slit on the cut end of the salmon fillet…make the slit on the side of the fillet.) Then, with one hand, hold the little edge of the salmon skin down onto the parchment. Insert the blade of the knife between the skin and the flesh, keeping the blade pointed towards the skin. Then slide the blade through the fillet to remove the skin.
Within in seconds, the skin will be removed and you will have a gorgeous skinless fillet of sockeye. Then cut the fillet crosswise into four pieces, each about ½ in thickness.
Spray a nonstick skillet or a cast-iron skillet lightly with oil and preheat over moderately high heat. Add the salmon strips and cook for about 8 seconds on each side. It’s worth noting that even though the salmon won’t look completely cooked at that point, the strips will continue to cook after they are removed from the heat.
To use the strips, add them to salads, sandwiches, tacos, and brunch dishes.
--Melissa A. Trainer
With a sharp knife, remove the skin on each fillet and cut each fillet into ½-inch thick strips. You should have about eight strips when both fillets are cut. (For a more detailed explanation of this technique, see Dillingham Salmon Strip Technique.)
Spray a nonstick skillet or a cast-iron skillet lightly with oil and preheat over moderately high heat. Add the salmon strips and cook for about 8 seconds on each side.
Lay out the tortillas and distribute the shredded iceberg and red cabbage evenly between the tortillas. Place two sockeye strips on each tortilla and divide the corn, black beans, and fresh coriander evenly between each tortilla. Divide the avocado slices evenly amongst the tacos.
Stir together the sour cream and the salsa and divide evenly on each taco. Garnish with remaining coriander leaves. Serves 4.
--Melissa A. Trainer
When it comes to party fare, why reinvent the wheel? We like party balls and decided to create this spicy sockeye salmon ball for Super Bowl 2012. Featuring cold smoked Bristol Bay sockeye, cream cheese, and spicy horseradish, this simple recipe is bound to kick off the party with a bang. The ball can be made in advance and is particularly delicious served with additional smoked salmon, artisan crackers, sesame grissini, fresh vegetables, and an Alaskan Amber or an India Pale Ale from Alaskan Brewing Company.
Put the sockeye salmon in the food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the food processor seven or eight times to break up the salmon. Distribute the cream cheese chunks evenly around the blade of the food processor. Lock on the lid of the processor and pulse the machine four or five times to distribute the cream cheese. Add the horseradish and run the food processor for about twenty seconds, scraping down the side of the work bowl as necessary. At this point, taste the mixture and add a little additional horseradish if desired. If the mixture seems too stiff, add a tablespoon of milk to loosen only slightly.
To form the mixture into a ball, crisscross two generously long pieces of Saran wrap on the counter. Mound the salmon mixture in the middle, pull the Saran wrap up around the mixture, and use the Saran wrap to form the mixture into a ball. Chill the ball for a few hours or overnight.
To serve, put the salmon ball on a large platter and garnish with the fresh parsley. Arrange the artisan crackers, grissini, vegetables, and additional smoked salmon around the spicy sockeye salmon ball.
Cold Smoked versus Hot Smoked:
This recipe features the cold smoked sockeye because we think the cold smoked salmon gives a more luxurious taste and texture. Hot smoked salmon works equally as well, but it is important to remove the skin before adding the hot smoked salmon.
If you want to dress up the salmon ball before serving, you can easily roll it in the finely chopped parsley or other fresh herbs such as dill. Of course, do this before placing the ball on the platter.
Skip the Ball and Create a Dip:
If you want to serve a dip rather than the ball, simply add a little sour cream or additional milk to reach the desired consistency. The dip can be served in a large bowl and garnished as desired.
Recipe/Photo: Melissa A. Trainer
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a blender or food processor, blend the gingerroot, orange juice, oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and sesame seeds for about 15 seconds, or until blended. Set aside.
Pat the salmon dry and sprinkle lightly with salt. Lightly oil an ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, and preheat over moderately high heat. Sear the salmon for about one minute on each side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the salmon for about 4 to 6 minutes, or until the flesh is translucent.
Divide the lettuce between two plates, surround it with the oranges, and drizzle with the dressing. Top the lettuce with the cooked salmon and drizzle generously with additional dressing.
Recipe/Photo: Melissa Trainer
We love using smoked sockeye in this presentation because the salmon is so inherently impressive with its deep rich red color. In Bristol Bay, many families harvest sockeye during the summer and smoke it at home. They enjoy it year round in a variety of way. We were inspired by that tradition when we created these tips:
Choose the Platter: A large white platter works best because it accents the bright color and you can arrange the salmon and the garnishes right on the plate.
Calculate the Quantity: Cold and hot smoked salmon are usually sold in eight-ounce packages. One pound of each is a great starting point, but the amounts will vary according to the size of the party.
Prepare the Cold Smoked Salmon: Cold smoked salmon is often sold pre sliced. This is very convenient, but it is important to separate the slices before serving. For best results, separate the salmon while it is chilled, fold the slices in a casual manner, and arrange them on the platter. The folded salmon is also easier to pick up with a fork.
Prepare the Hot Smoked Salmon: Hot smoked salmon is sold in hunks and is drier than the cold. It is usually sold with the skin intact. For serving, simply pat the salmon dry after you remove it from the package and arrange it on the platter intact.
Gather the Garnishes: Serve with sour cream, whipped cream cheese, diced red onion, pumpernickel, lemon zest, capers. Put the garnishes in the center of the platter and be sure to have small serving spoons available.
Pick a Mustard: We keep a variety of specialty mustards on hand for this type of platter. A sweet dill-enhanced mustard goes really well with the cold smoked salmon.
Choose a Carb: Many types of crackers and breads can be served. Norwegian and Eastern European breads such as pumpernickel or rye are great. If necessary, cut the slices into triangles. Encourage guests to make mini sandwiches, too.
Replenish: Take a hint from the caterers. If you are having a large party, make two platters. Put one on the buffet table. Keep the other chilled. Rotate accordingly.
Love Leftovers: Any leftover salmon can be covered and stored in the fridge. Use it the next day in eggs, salads, or sandwiches. Get creative!
Give it as a Gift: This platter makes a fabulous hostess gift! If you want to give it as a gift, bring the smoked salmon, the capers, the mustard and the pumpernickel and assemble the platter on site
Recipe/Photo: Melissa Trainer