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Culinary Central

Washington Cuisine: Salmon

October 10, 2009 Le Cordon Bleu Seattle 0 Comments

With its characteristic red flesh and oily texture, Salmon is one of the most popular species of fish in the world. It is found in the northern regions of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Because of its popularity, it has run into over-fishing problems, particularly in the North Atlantic region, where salmon has been placed on the endangered species list. There are several non-governmental agencies who are dedicated to replenishing the supply of salmon in the Atlantic Ocean.

Many of the cultures along the Pacific Rim and in the North Atlantic prize salmon not only for its delicious taste but also as a symbol of wisdom and vitality. The salmon of Llyn Llyw is a character from Welsh tales of King Arthur that dates back to 13th century. Many Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest still use the salmon as a totem symbol to represent vitality and rebirth.

Preparing Salmon

There are many species of salmon to be found in Washington and the Pacific Northwest, including freshwater varieties like Steelhead trout, but two of the most popular are King (Chinook) and Red (Sockeye). Because of their versatility, Washing chefs use them in many dishes. The hearty red meat can stand up to strong marinades and grill cooking. It is also delicate enough to be a key ingredient for sushi and sashimi.

It is inevitable that sometime during your Washington chef career you’ll be asked to prepare salmon. One of the most popular ways to prepare it is smoking. Smoked salmon is a delicacy that comes in a variety of forms, the most popular of which is lox. This salt-brined smoked salmon is most often served with bagels, cream cheese, and capers.

California Chefs and Grilled Salmon

With grilled foods playing such a big part of modern California cuisine it’s no surprise that grilled salmon is found on menus all along the Pacific Coast. Whether cut as thick steaks or delicate fillets, Salmon absorbs the flavor of wood smoke and contrasts nicely with diverse flavors like teriyaki, lemon pepper, and herb encrusting. A quick sear over a hot grill is the best way to prepare grilled salmon. Cooking longer will result in an unpleasant drying of the meat.

The health benefits of salmon – high in omega fatty acids and protein – have also made salmon a popular ingredient in everything from salads to sandwiches.

If you have never cooked with salmon, then you will be pleasantly surprised by the versatility and complex flavor characteristics of this popular fish.

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