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Anglers share their favorite ways to prepare freshly caught reds

Succulent sockeye

Posted: July 24, 2013 - 6:02pm  |  Updated: July 25, 2013 - 7:46am
Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Henry Moses, of Houston, TX., fishes in the Kenai River for sockeye salmon Wednesday July 24, 2013 at Soldotna Creek Park in Kenai, Alaska.  Moses, a self proclaimed "hobby cook" said he likes to fry his sockeye salmon in a corn meal batter.
Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Henry Moses, of Houston, TX., fishes in the Kenai River for sockeye salmon Wednesday July 24, 2013 at Soldotna Creek Park in Kenai, Alaska. Moses, a self proclaimed "hobby cook" said he likes to fry his sockeye salmon in a corn meal batter.

Somewhere between Houston, Texas, Western Europe and Soldotna there is a good recipe for brining sockeye salmon. But no one standing in the chilly Kenai River Wednesday was willing to share their perfect recipe in its entirety.

The unwillingness to part with a secret was one of the few things the anglers lining the banks at Soldotna Creek Park had in common.

“I take it back to Texas and just have a ball,” said Henry Moses, of Houston. “I bake them, smoke them, pan fry them. My hobby is cooking.”

While several fishermen suggested salt or sweet brines for their fix, Moses stood out from the pack with his batter fried mixture.

“I love it fried, in cornmeal batter,” he said. “Put some olive oil, put it in that pan, get that seasoning, brown it real nice and ‘man,’ get after it.”

D Olsen, from Teton Valley, Idaho stood next to Stuart Graham of Bakersfield, Calif., and said they had agreed that they do the same thing.

Brine the fish in a low sodium mix with brown sugar and — here’s where it get’s tricky — some combination of maple syrup, molasses or agave nectar and, of course, a secret ingredient.

“Don’t tell her much more,” Olsen cautioned his fishing buddy as they alternated listing off ingredients. “You’ll give everything away.“

They did suggest that anglers smoke red salmon, but not silver salmon.

“Silvers have too much fat in them and they come out too greasy,” Graham said.

Several anglers said the natural flavor of the fish was better than any artificial addition. Almost without fail, they suggested throwing the freshly caught fish over the barbecue, adding a bit of salt or lemon, browning it and enjoying the result.

Jeremy and Misty Hamilton, of Kenai, stood near Bridge Access road dipnetting Wednesday.

The one fish they caught before noon sat in the cooler waiting to be dinner, Jeremy said.

The two said they would throw the fish on the barbecue with brown sugar and lemon juice although baking it was an option as well.

Instead of spending a lot of time processing their fish, the Hamiltons said they take their red salmon to Custom Seafood Processors on the Kenai Spur Highway in Soldotna.

There, the fish are vacuum packed and smoked for the winter.

“We use different recipes every time we cook it, the kids really like it,” Misty said.

Their daughter, Kailey “Ya-Ya” Hamilton, recently talked the couple into salmon patty hot dogs that Misty said were delicious.

“We just made salmon patties and formed them into the shape of a hot dog,” she said.

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

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JOAT
490
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JOAT 07/26/13 - 12:26 am
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Not that complicated

Lay the fillet on a large sheet of aluminum foil, skin down. Brush the meat with a light layer of extra virgin olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with dill weed. If desired, a light sprinkle of black pepper, garlic, and/or salt is acceptable, but entirely optional. Lay a few rings of sweet onion on top of the meat and place a 1/8 wedge of lemon at each end. Tent the foil up over the fillet, rolling the top into a seal, but not allowing the foil to touch the meat side of the fish. Roll the open ends inward and seal them. Place this on a cookie sheet and put into a fully preheated 400° oven. Start with 5 minutes and then add 5 minutes for each inch of thickness of the fillet. For example, if the fillet is 1 inch thick it goes for 10 minutes. If it is 1-1/2 inches thick, it goes for 13 minutes, etc. Fish is done as soon as the meat is opaque and flakes easily, which is just as the white juices begin showing up on the surface.

And now, someone has told you their entire recipe. There are no "secret ingredients". Fresh salmon can be cooked and eaten with NOTHING on it, but the flavor is complemented well with just the couple ingredients I've mentioned here.

P.S. If you have any left overs, simply separate the meat from the skin, wrap and place in the fridge. Tomorrow, take the left over (remove any bones) and flake it up into a small bowl. Add chopped dill pickle (or dill relish), a diced hard-boiled egg, a shot of spicy brown mustard, and just enough mayo to make a mixture that resembles tuna salad. Spread on your favorite sandwich bread and you have lunch. Beats any tuna sandwich hands down.

(Now you have 2 complete recipes ;) Enjoy!)

BigRedDog
670
Points
BigRedDog 07/27/13 - 07:31 am
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Gib's Best, Kippled Salmon Brine

Have you ever felt the praise of someone saying, "this is the best smoked salmon I have ever put in my mouth, how did you do it?" I said "felt" because these folks really give up the love when they taste "Gib's Best." Mr. Gilbert Gay (RIP) of Hot Springs Arkansas was a fisherman's fisherman. He introduced me to his only employer for some 30 yr. Mr. Abu Garcia, Abu is the man that invented the method of making the hollow fiberglass fishing rod and introducing it to the world at the 1964 Seattle World's Fair.
Mr. Garcia told me that my fishing buddy Gib had made him a very wealthy man. Garcia said he hasn't marketed even one product in 30 years that wasn't first critiqued by Mr. Gay. They had pioneered the fly fishing for bonefish, marlin, and tarpon down in the Florida Keys back in the 1930's. These old Boys had been there and done that as the saying goes, and they really got my attention when Gib offered me a brine recipe. He said you can do it two ways slow, or fast.
The slow method is very economical and effective requiring a minimum of 8 hr. ( but when refrigerated can soak longer) in the brine. The fast method takes only 3 hr. and some folks like it after 2 hr. so these methods can be modified to your own taste. Mr. Gay said all fish are crying out for acid when you cook them. And no other fish reacts better to acid than salmon. He said if you put a little vinegar in your brine it will chemically neutralize all the slime on that salmon. So you won't be feeding fish slime to the people you share this wonderful bounty of our ocean and rivers.
Fillet preparation is important, and greatly affects cooking time and finished product presentation quality, you really want your smoked salmon to look good! With the fillet laying flat cut the meat into 2" steaks w/o cutting the skin, leaving the meat on the skin and the whole fillet attached to the skin. These 2" wide pieces cook much faster and are about a serving size when opened for enjoyment. You should get 4 to 6 steak like portions and the tail should be split down the middle to the skin. Then cut a small 1" slit in the skin at the thickest part to the meat between each steak size cut. This allows fats and juices to drain while you cook the fish.
Slow method is measured by gallons of brine with 1 gallon per 2 reds as about right. You can play with volume to your taste but this is a good ratio to start.
1 Gallon water, 2 tablespoons each, Soy sauce, Worcestershire, real lemon, and vinegar. Start with 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 to 3/4 a cup of rock salt to your taste in the mix. Cover the fish with this brine ( a bucket works great) and store in a cool place refrigerating if longer than 8 hr. Then take the fish out of the brine a piece at a time and rinse under fresh water washing all the brine and wiping it of the fish as much as possible. Then place the fish on your smoker racks to glaze (a fan helps) until it has a dry sticky sheen to the meat usually after about an hour in a breeze. The fish is ready for the smoke when glazed to a tacky sheen. Smoke 12 hr. for 5 reds in a Big Chief and check often as to tastes, 2 pans of smoke chips are needed and after that it's according to personal taste. You can adjust the 12 hr. as per your taste by checking the meat to see how well done you like it.
The fast method requires more salt and brown sugar to accomplish the desired affect. This is enough to cure 5 big Kenai River Reds in one load. 1/4 cup each soy, worsc., real lemon, and vinegar (cider vinegar works great) 1 cup of water, then 4 cups brown sugar and 2 cups of rock salt. Mix this into a paste like mix with a lot of salt in the bottom. Lay the fillets in a big flat roasting pan one at a time and cover each fillet with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the paste mix just rubbing it into the fish. Get a grain of rock salt in every crack for the best results. After one hour turn the fish over so what was on top is on bottom and bottom to top. Then repeat this after 2 hr. and remove and wash the fillets after 3 hr. You can again soak longer or shorter as to taste but 3 hr. is a great starting point. Leave it on that brine long enough and it will just cook the fish right there! Makes great sushi when sliced thin, but I like the smoke flavor. After washing the fillets smoke to your taste.
A great product saving tip for vac-paking is to place a small piece of Saran wrap over the bones on the top half of the fillet. These bones sticking out of the shoulder of the fillet protrude when the flesh is cooked and stick out just enough to snag and tear the bag open wasting your $25 lb. package of treasured bounty. So place the saran wrap on top of the fillet when you vack-pak the finished product and it will not get freezer burned by the tiny little bones sticking through the bag.
I called it Gib's Kippled Salmon brine, and someone said you mean kippered? Then they tasted it and said 'I see what you mean Kippled!' Enjoy

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