Anglers share their favorite ways to prepare freshly caught reds

Succulent sockeye
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


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