Happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July, as most of us call it, commemorates the date in 1776 when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, a written resolution announcing the United States’ freedom from British rule. (The legal separation actually happened two days before, on July 2.) So, let’s eat barbecue and celebrate with grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, baked beans and potato salad, sweet corn and watermelon. If you’re in Alaska you might enjoy fresh grilled salmon and halibut, oysters and big garden salads. Whatever is on the menu, I’m sure it will be festive and fun.
We don’t usually do things in the traditional manner up here on July 4. Many years ago, you would find the Other Fisherman, our boys and myself trolling the beach off Anchor Point in our skiff fishing for those monster king salmon that cruised the shoreline. We rocked that fishery and nothing will ever top the thrill of catching one of those big kings headed for the Kenai River. Sometimes we were able to squeeze in a picnic after a fishing trip, but more often than not, our picnic happened in the boat and consisted of sandwiches and snacks.
Recently we re-connected with a childhood friend of Mark’s who was the best man at our wedding. He’s living in Texas and had just remarried. I sent him a picture of the Other Fisherman with a salmon he’d caught that earlier that day. A few days later he sent me a picture of a salmon dish he and his new wife made for dinner that evening. Coincidently, I was also planning on making that same dish for our dinner the following day.
This simple weeknight meal makes great use of pantry staples to create complex flavors with minimal work. Miso is often used to flavor soups or sauces, and here it is added to raw rice before cooking, which results in a delightfully sticky, savory steamed rice. Fragrant and nutty basmati is called for, but any long-grain rice will work. Shredded cabbage brings freshness and crunch to the finished dish, but use whatever crispy vegetable you have on hand: shredded brussels sprouts, carrots, snap peas, radishes and iceberg lettuce are all great options. To finish, the vibrant tang of the bright ginger-scallion vinaigrette balances the richness of the roasted salmon.
Roasted Salmon with Miso Rice and Ginger-Scallion Vinaigrette
Courtesy of New York Times, recipe by Kay Chun
• ¼ cup white or sweet miso
• 1 ½ cups basmati or other long-grain rice
• 4 (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher salt and black pepper
• ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
• ¼ cup chopped scallions, plus more for garnish
• 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
• 4 cups finely shredded cabbage, such as green, Napa or savoy (about 8 ounces)
• Roasted sesame oil, for serving
Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium saucepan, whisk miso with 2 1/4 cups water until dissolved. Stir in rice and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork (it will be a little sticky).
On a rimmed baking sheet, rub salmon all over with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and arrange skin-side up. Roast until fish is just opaque and cooked to medium, 8 to 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, scallions, vinegar and ginger, and season with salt and pepper.
Divide miso rice and cabbage among bowls. Top with salmon, ginger-scallion vinaigrette and sesame oil.
For some traditional picnic fare, I’m sure you will enjoy the following two recipes.
Cucumbers seems to having quite a heyday lately with all the high tunnel and greenhouse gardeners. I love the fresh grown cukes our local farmers sell at market. Childhood memories of cucumbers fresh from grandma’s garden sliced thin and served in a creamy dressing were served at many summer meals.
Creamy Dilled Cucumber Salad
• 2 English cucumbers, thinly sliced
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1-1/2 cups sour cream
• 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
• 1/4 cup snipped fresh dill
• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
Place cucumbers in a colander over a bowl; sprinkle with salt and toss. Let stand 15 minutes. Squeeze and blot dry with paper towels.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in cucumbers. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour.
I’ve been making a delicious baked bean recipe that everyone just loves that The Other Fisherman’s mom shared with me for what seems like forever. I came across this recipe with similar ingredients and a few additions. It’s also a big hit at picnics and barbecues.
Three Bean Baked Beans
• 5 bacon strips, diced
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup ketchup
• 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
• 2 tablespoons molasses
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 cans (16 ounces each) pork and beans, undrained
• 1 can (16 ounces) butter beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook and crumble beef with bacon and onion over medium heat until beef is no longer pink; drain.
• Stir in sugars, ketchup, barbecue sauce, molasses, mustard, chili powder and salt until blended. Stir in beans. Transfer to a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish. Bake, covered, until beans reach desired thickness, about 1 hour.
• Beans will be thicker and tastier the following day. Just reheat.
Enjoy celebrating America’s independence with some tasty food, and please remember to wear your mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing.