Summer in Alaska is synonymous with salmon, and in July, sockeye salmon are as popular, plentiful and just as anticipated as tourists and sunshine. We get a bit crazed this time of year in the effort to secure our winter supply of reds to freeze and smoke. These beauties are my favorite salmon to prepare and eat. I enjoy the firm texture, mild flavor and preparation versatility. Sockeye salmon is excellent any way you choose to make it, whether charred on a hot grill, roasted on a cedar plank, made into patties to pan-fry, steamed over a bed of aromatics, cured and thinly sliced as lox or any of the other ways you prefer.
Various methods are undertaken to acquire the must-have protein staple of every Alaskan’s food cache, and most of us prefer dipping for them. You can’t drive anywhere without seeing big, round dipnets tied to rooftops on the ever-popular Alaska vehicle of choice, the Subaru. Strapped and hanging on for dear life on vehicles every which way, the oversized nets accompany hopeful anglers.
Our family’s supply of sockeye salmon is dipped from the Kenai River and across Kachemak Bay. I love to see the Other Fisherman return with his limit several days at a time. I make an effort to serve salmon often, and I’ve never run out of recipes in which to prepare it.
When we visit family in Wisconsin with the customary cooler in tow, it’s packed with salmon and other Alaska treasures of the sea. I believe if we were to show up with no salmon in the cooler, we might as well just turn around and re-board the jet going north.
Salmon burgers are as popular in Alaska restaurants and kitchens as hamburgers are in the Lower ’48. I’ve never made a batch of them that haven’t been eaten with gusto and without compliments. They can make the most salmon-adverse diner admit they just might not dislike salmon as much as they thought.
I make salmon patties or burger with raw cubed salmon or with leftover salmon that’s been cooked and flaked. For this recipe I added ingredients to salmon I previously grilled.
I also just harvested a beautiful bunch of bok choy from our garden and wanted to serve it with the salmon patties. When I think of how to prepare bok choy, the first thing that comes to mind is a quick stir fry with a sauce of ginger, sesame oil, honey, soy sauce and garlic, and sprinkling of sesame seeds.
This recipe is for a patty topped with a spicy sauce. It can be served as an appetizer or main course. You could also insert your patty between a bun, drizzle on some sauce and call it a salmon burger.
Enjoy summertime fishing in Alaska.
Spicy Sweet Chili and Wasabi Sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Generous squeeze fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons wasabi paste (more or less depending on your taste)
Mix all ingredients together and adjust seasoning to your preference. Store in refrigerator.
China Poot Salmon Patties
Makes 12 patties, more or less, depending on size. Make patties about 1 ½-2 inches in diameter to serve as appetizers. Note; if patties are not holding together when being formed, you may need to add more mayonnaise. You will want to form them and gently but firmly pack them together to hold their shape. Chill them to hold together while pan frying.
1 ½ pounds cooked and flaked salmon
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used day-old French bread, torn into pieces and turned into crumbs in the food processor)
¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
2 tablespoons grated carrot
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 whole egg — beaten
½- cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of half a lime
1 teaspoon grated jalapeno
3 shakes of Frank’s hot sauce
Few grinds of black pepper
Panko bread crumbs — to coat outside of patties with
Cilantro for garnish
Preparing the patties:
In a large mixing bowl, combine salmon, bread crumbs, green onion and carrot.
In a medium size mixing bowl, combine ginger, egg, mayonnaise, soy sauce, salt, lime juice, jalapeno, hot sauce and pepper. Whisk together until combined well. Taste and adjust ingredients. Pour over salmon mixture and fold together until evenly combined. Shape into patties.
Pour panko into shallow bowl such as a pie plate. Gently press panko onto each patty, coating outside. Set on cookie sheet and refrigerate until fairly firm so they won’t want to fall apart when pan fried, about half hour.
Pan fry in vegetable or avocado oil on medium high heat until brown on bottom side, then carefully turn over and brown remaining side. Serve with a drizzle of sauce or serve sauce on the side in a small bowl. Garnish with cilantro.
Stir Fry Bok Choy
For this recipe I used about 6 cups cut-up mature bok choy. I cut the green leaves into pieces about 1¼ inches wide and the white rib sections in pieces 1 inch wide. I cut up enough to fill a 10-inch skillet.
In a small bowl, add a couple of shakes of crushed red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon honey and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Blend together.
In a hot skillet, add 1 tablespoon oil of your preference to pan. Add 1 teaspoon ginger and garlic each. Fry 5 seconds and add Bok Choy. Stir, then add the soy sauce mixture. Stir fry until crisp tender. doneness. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.