The fall king and coho salmon seasons are underway, and fish are starting to migrate into rivers all across the state.
Many will provide good fishing well into November at places like the Humptulips, Wynoochee, Quinault, Clearwater, Chehalis and Satsop rivers. Other places offering decent salmon action right now are the Columbia above Bonneville Dam off the mouth of the Klickitat, sections of the Lower Columbia, Hanford Reach, Bonneville Pool, and tributaries like the Cowlitz, Yakima, Lewis and Kalama.
In this week’s Seafood Recipe of the Week, Anthony’s Restaurant Chef Pat Donahue offers a delightful king salmon recipe. Anthony’s will contribute some of their cooking advice and recipes for the Reel Time Fishing NW blog in our Catch of the Week each Wednesday through October.
Other contributing experts are Chef and restaurant owner Tom Douglas; Tiffany Haugen, Outdoor Cooking expert/author; tackle shop owners; local seafood-market owners; and fishing guides and charter services.
Here is advice from Anthony’s Chef Donahue on how to prepare their king salmon recipe:
The Chinook salmon (also known as King Salmon) is the largest species in the Pacific salmon genus. Chinook fish are native to the north Pacific Ocean and the river systems of western North America ranging from California to Alaska. A large Chinook is a prized and sought-after catch for a sport angler.
The color of a Chinook can range from blue-green, red or purple on the backside and the top of their heads with silvery sides. It has black spots on its tail and the upper half of its body. Their flesh is highly valued for its nutritional content, including high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which attribute to their rich, buttery flavor.
When purchasing salmon, the flesh should look glossy and moist- never dry. The color of the flesh should be a vibrant orange and have natural white marbling throughout. The flesh of the rare Ivory Chinook salmon will range from ivory colored to very pale pink due to the fact that they make use of the enzyme that breaks down carotene (which gives other salmon that brilliant red/orange color) unlike others in its species.
When you press the flesh of the salmon, it should bounce right back. The skin should have smooth, shiny scales that are not flaking off. The fish should smell clean, like an ocean breeze, rather than “fishy”.
Chinook salmon lends itself very well to grilling, slow barbecuing and smoking. Since it is naturally high in fat content, it has more of a luxurious, creamy texture and rich flavor, which a simple preparation will enable the natural flavor of the fish to shine.
Anthony’s Chef Pat Donahue loves to simply grill this salmon with salt and pepper and serve with a light heirloom tomato and corn relish.
Wild King Salmon with Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Corn Relish and Toasted Hazelnut Butter
1 ½ to 2 pounds of wild king salmon fillet, skinned and pin bones removed
1 to 2 tablespoons of light olive oil
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
2 cups tomato corn relish (see recipe below)
¼ cup hazelnut butter (see recipe below)
¼ cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
Heirloom Tomato and Corn Relish
1 large (1 ½ cup) yellow or marble striped heirloom tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup (1 each large) corn on the cobb, uncooked and kernels removed
3 tablespoons red bell pepper, chopped
½ cup sweet onions, diced
2 teaspoons (1/2 lime) fresh Lime juice
¼ teaspoon cajun spice
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup white granulated sugar
3 each fresh cloves
¼ pound salted butter
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
¼ cup toasted Hazelnuts, chopped
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Cut salmon filet into 4 equal pieces (6-8 ounces each). Coat the pieces with oil and season with Kosher salt and pepper. Grill over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side (to an internal temperature of 135 degrees).
Remove from grill and top with hazelnut butter. Cover and let sit to complete cooking until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the fish has reached 145 degrees (about 4 minutes)and the butter has completely melted.
Plate and top with tomato corn relish and sprinkle with hazelnuts and chives.
Heirloom Tomato and Corn Relish:
Bring vinegar, sugar, cloves and cinnamon to a boil. Remove and chill in refrigerator.
Remove the corn from the cobb and place into a large bowl.
Chop the tomatoes into a large dice (1/2” – ¾” thick) and add to the corn. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes, than drain any excess liquid.
Add all ingredients into a mixer and blend well until combined. You may make this ahead of time and store in the refrigerator (will last for up to 2 weeks) or freeze (for up to one month). Bring to room temperature before serving.
Yield four servings