Whimsy Chef Beth Sirlin is serving up the Northwest’s favorite fresh catch; Salmon. As an extra special twist, this recipe was made with White Chinook salmon that my husband caught off the west coast of Vancouver Island on a fishing trip last summer. It’s a rare and beautiful white flesh salmon with a firm texture; we had been saving it for just the right occasion.
Beth’s parents picked up this recipe from friends many years ago. One great dinner party led to the family favorite salmon recipe. Growing up with a vacation beach house on the Salish Sea, Beth and her family would gather friends and neighbors on warm summer evenings to share in the quintessential beach meal; local oysters, buttery Dungeness, and this deliciously smoky salmon dish. When served with a bright summer salad & toasty bread, the family comes to the table hungry for nostalgia. It’s Northwest summer on a plate.
Beth arrived with her crew in tow; Sam, Janna & Kent. Handshakes moved quickly onto gin and tonics and kitchen prep. Beth & Sam brought fresh Kumomoto Oysters they had picked up from Taylor Shellfish Farm off Chuckanut Drive earlier that day. To get into the spirit of the beach meal, they had spent the day hiking around the Oyster Dome, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the salty Samish Bay. Bringing his ‘harvest’ to our kitchen, Sam prepped the oysters simply, serving on ice with lemon and a bright tomato, cilantro and garlic sauce. The salty brine paired with an icy gin and tonic; it tastes like summer already.
Salmon usually comes to the table fairly mild mannered; not the case with this recipe. This fish preparation ups the ante, with a soulful mix of smoke and sweet onion. The bright, sweet and smokey flavor pairs perfectly with good friends, laughs and a light bodied wine. After a few bites, the crowd starts chiming in words of praise to the Whimsy Chef. The kids are asking for more and the adults are savoring every bite. I imagine Beth’s mom looking at her kids years ago and thinking to herself, “jackpot, all three of my kids love this salmon“. Winning.
Salmon is a rich and fatty fish, thereby lending itself to be the perfect pair with a side that’s tart or acid-y. Beth chose a stewed balsamic tomato recipe that really hit the spot; perfect for roasting on the grill with fresh in-season tomatoes. She also made a refreshing summer salad with strawberries, bananas, and walnuts, the sweet salad rounded out the menu with delicious balance.
Janna and Kent were a blast to meet. It happens they own a kitchen linen supply house; Raw Materials Design. The aprons are fabulous, modeled by Beth and Sam in the photos above. The “Whup-Ass” dish towels are a must have for any hard-working Whimsy Chef. I love them, so I bought a few extras for host gifts (be the next WC). Janna’s designs are clearly made to last long enough to pass down along with your treasured recipes.
In this post the recipe is named French Family Salmon Recipe; however, in the French family kitchen, the recipe has a politically incorrect appellation. Please feel free to honor the French family by making it your own and renaming it with inappropriate flare; there’s no better way to begin a fish story. I loved catching up with this old friend, and if this is what the Whimsy Chef project has in store for me then I’m hooked.
- 1.5 lb salmon - choose fresh, not farmed
- 1 lb butter
- 4T dehydrated onions
- 3T Lawry’s seasoning salt
- 2Tsp. pepper
- 4T soy sauce
- 2 3.5oz bottles Wright’s liquid smoke hickory
- Filet and debone salmon and cut into portions - 3oz to 4 oz - no need to skin
- Set Salmon aside
- Melt butter in sauce pan
- Add remaining ingredients (except fish) & simmer until onions are rehydrated
- Create foil boats for salmon on a baking sheet (to poach fish)
- Place de-boned salmon filets in foil boats & cover with marinade - reserving some for saucing
- Poach salmon in hot oven or on grill
- Cook salmon to your preference - but definitely pull off the heat once the fish flakes.
- Reduce the reserved poaching liquid by about ½
- Sauce the fish before serving with reduced poaching liquid
More like this: