Wild Alaskan Salmon

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Attention salmon lovers!! Did you know that 95 percent of the wild salmon harvested in the USA comes from Alaskan waters? Alaska is also the only state where sustainability is written into its constitution. To me that means one should eat wild salmon fresh while the season is upon us from June to September. And to recognize that frozen wild Alaskan salmon is preferable to any farmed alternative. Getting excellent wild fresh fish is costly in my city, so I cook it when I can, sparingly and carefully.

Several years ago I went to the Copper River in Alaska to do a print and film story about the five species of Alaskan salmon. Legendary photographer Christopher Baker was the photographer/filmmaker. It was an extraordinary experience, chronicled here

Since visiting Alaska that June, just as the sockeye salmon opener commenced, it has become the time of year I look forward to eating wild salmon.

Here is a recipe I improvised this week, when I finally got my hands on a beautiful piece of fresh sockeye salmon:

Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon over Udon Noodles
3-4 servings

  • 1 1-pound skin-on piece of salmon, pin bones removed
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (shoyu)
  • 1/3 cup mirin
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil plus more for the noodles
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 package udon noodles (about 14 ounces)
  • a couple glugs vegetables oil
  • 1 1/2 cups snap peas, sliced
  • 1 scallion, sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Portion the salmon into pieces, cutting through the flesh to the skin, but keeping the skin intact. Place the salmon, skin side down on a parchment or foil-lined pan. Season the piece with salt. Cook for 10-12 minutes (depending on thickness of salmon), until just cooked through. Check it after 8 minutes. Do not overcook! Peel off the skin as soon as possible. 

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a small pot combine the soy, mirin, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, and garlic. Simmer to dissolve the sugar, and concentrate the liquid to a glazy consistency, about 2/3 the volume.

3. Boil the noodles about 8 minutes, until just done (see package instructions). Drain, and run under cold water to cool. Drain again. Toss the noodles in some vegetable oil and a drizzle of sesame oil.

4. Combine the snap peas and scallions. Sprinkle them over the noodles.

5. Place the salmon pieces on top of the noodles and vegetables. Drizzle with the glaze. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

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