Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Salmon Fever

Grilled Soy-Sesame Salmon

My dad, R. D. Belles, was bitten by the salmon bug when he was a young man in his early 30s. We’d know he was experiencing a flare-up of what we called “Salmon Fever” when his sleeping and eating patterns took a sudden turn.

Normally, Dad moaned at the buzz of an alarm clock and slept in until noon whenever he got the chance, and routinely he began every day with the hardiest of breakfasts. But when he pointed the truck and boat trailer toward his favorite fishing haunts out on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, R.D.’s usual sleeping and eating patterns became drastically altered.

During such flareups he’d spring out of bed at 3:30 AM. “No time for breakfast. I have to get out there and wake up those Kings!” he’d whisper slipping out of the cabin like a cat on a late-night prowl.

Well after dark we’d see the running lights of his boat, Bob-Bet, bumping against the dock. R.D.’s broad smile glinting through the darkness told us his catch for the day was abundant. With stubble sprouting from his chin, he’d flop into a chair at the kitchen table and say, “I’m as hungry as a bear coming out of hibernation!” He’d plan the next day’s outing over a platter full of pan-fried red potatoes and his catch of “shaker fish."

Dad took fishing far more serious than anyone else in the family. Once, while fishing with him, I became severely seasick and begged to go back to shore. Foreboding walls of water rocked the twenty six-foot craft back and forth among the powerful waves. Bob-Bet lifted WAY UP and then plunged WAY DOWN, between the rollers. R.D. patiently puffed on his pipe and said, “Oh, you’ll be okay, you’ve just had too much motion today.” Sundown was the only good excuse for Dad to return to shore.

Once, I asked Dad if he’d bring back a dogfish (which is a small shark) for me to fry up for dinner. I’d heard dogfish had a unique texture partnered with a surprisingly non-fishy flavor. He hit the ceiling. “I won’t have the damn stink'n things in my boat. You can’t kill em’- even with a club! If you can’t kill em’ then ya can’t eat em’!” He blasted at me.

My Uncle Ken, also curious about the feasibility of dogfish & chips for dinner, brought me a large, fresh dogfish the next time he went fishing with Dad. Dad was furious with his older brother and acted like he was a traitor to the Salmon Fishing Hall of Fame.

I barbecued a small Coho salmon for Dad and deep-fried the dogfish for my adventurous guests. Dad showed up for dinner, but it was the first vegetarian meal that I’d ever known him to eat. He never ate fish at my house again! By the way, the dogfish was delicious!


In September and October my thoughts turn to my father who probably fished every salmon bed that exists in Pacific Northwest waters. His passion to catch the mighty fish made it possible for salmon to be served frequently in our home. My mother prepared it many, many different ways, and through the years I've gathered some of my own renditions of how to cook the pink-fleshed fish that "puts up one hell of a fight before he lands in the boat." Today I'm sharing three recipes for cooking salmon that you'll be glad "landed" on your dinner table. Enjoy!

Grilled Soy-Sesame Salmon

6 6-ounce salmon fillets, with or without skin


1/4 cup brown sugar or honey

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together brown sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic powder, parsley, basil, thyme, lemon and pepper. Pour marinade into large zip-lock bag. Add salmon fillets; squeeze air out of bag and seal. Gently squeeze bag so marinade is surrounding fillets. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.

Preheat either an outdoor drill or an indoor grated griddle to medium-high heat. Lightly oil grate with a brush or paper towel. Remove salmon from the marinade; shake off excess marinade and discard any excess marinade. Grill salmon until browned and fish easily flakes, about 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Serve with jasmine rice. Yield: 6 servings

Halibut with Spicy Picante Sauce

2 pounds cod fillets, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Picante Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped or sliced thin

1 clove garlic, minced

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 small can mild or medium enchilada sauce

1 bay leaf, broken in half once

2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

10 pimento -stuffed green olives, sliced

2 tablespoons capers, cut into halves

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Sprinkle fillets with lime juice; cover and set aside. Combine olive oil, onion and garlic in a 6-cup glass measuring cup. Cover measuring cup and microwave on High for 4 minutes. Add tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, bay leaf, jalapeno peppers, olives, capers and oregano to onion garlic mixture. Cover and microwave on High for 4 minutes.

Place fish in a greased 10"X12" glass baking dish; pour picante sauce over fish. Cover and microwave on High for 6 minutes (less or more depending on thickness of fillets), rotating dish once or twice during cooking time. Cook until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove the bay leaf. Serve with white rice. Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Bobbi’s Salmon & Green Bean Salad

8 to 10 ounces canned, baked or poached salmon, chilled, boned and flaked

3 ti 4 cups fresh green beans, snapped into 2” pieces, steamed to almost done, cooled

1 small Vidalia or Walla Walla sweet onion, separated into rings

1 ½ cups iceberg lettuce, shredded (optional)

1 medium tomato (sliced) or cherry tomatoes (optional)


2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed

2 teaspoons water

4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt

Cracked pepper to taste

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced

Toss salmon, beans and onion together in a large bowl. Measure vinegar, oil, lemon juice, water, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic into shaker container. Shake well. Pour dressing over salmon mixture and toss. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Serve on bed of shredded lettuce. Garnish with tomatoes. Yield: 3 to 4 as main dish salad or 8 to 9 as a side salad

This recipe comes from the kitchen of Bobbi Powell, Kent, Washington.


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