Salmon ~ A great alternative to turkey or ham for a holiday dinner
By Paul Thompson
When Dr. Bob and I returned from the Forks area (read story by clicking HERE)), having caught more than 100 pounds of salmon, I knew salmon was going to be a big part of my future. I eat it, of course, and share it. A carpenter working for me one day recently went home with a chunk of coho salmon. He was delighted.
I’ve been contemplating other times to share my bounty. Click. Why not a coho salmon Thanksgiving? Stuff a whole one with a mild bread stuffing and grill it outdoors, adding a few smoky wood chips. Cranberry sauce on the side works as well here as with turkey. I often bring the Thanksgiving entrée when invited to my niece’s home for Thanksgiving. Hmm. Maybe they’ll go for it. I’d surprise them, but Teresa always reads Uncle Paul’s column.
My preference is to keep the head and tail on the salmon when grilling it for a more spectacular presentation. Unfortunately most grills are too short to accommodate the head and tail of an average size salmon. One solution is to cut the salmon in half, leaving the head and tail in place, assembling the two halves on the serving platter. Most serving platters are too short, as well. Great. A salmon too big for the serving tray looks even more luscious and abundant for the feast. (If you are serving fewer people, chunks of salmon cooked on cedar planks are a good alternative.)
The fish, cooked whole, can be left whole with steaks cut from the end as servings. Or you can open up the cooked fish into two filets, making the removal of bones an easy process. The two cooked filets, lying side by side, look beautiful, and are ready to be sauced. A hollandaise or béarnaise sauce moves your dinner into the high end category. Salt, pepper and a final brush with melted butter works, as well. Surround the fish with slices of lemon and aromatic Italian parsley just before serving. Crush the parsley with your hands to bring out its full aroma.
I enjoy fishing and catching fish, as you might have gathered. I also enjoy presenting them at home or to a host for a special, shared dinner. We didn’t just buy this fish at Safeway. I caught it. Like hunting, I think that fishing fulfills a basic male instinct to go out and hunt, bringing home the bounty to share with the rest of the tribe.
What is your favorite way of cooking salmon? Would you serve (or want to eat) it for a Thanksgiving dinner? Please add your comment in the space below.
Paul Thompson (at left in top photo, with Dr. Bob Blackwood) grew up in Longview and now lives in Sequim, on Washington's Olympic Penninsula. A retired speech and drama professor and stage carpenter, these days he volunteers with community theatre. Besides cooking, he enjoys fishing, golf and movies.