Start summer with a taste of seafood

It’s “sun-officially” summer. The rivers on the lower Kenai Peninsula are open for salmon fishing and we enjoyed a blue sky and sunny Memorial Day weekend.

The summer fishing frenzy has begun and I was fortunate enough to enjoy a perfectly grilled piece of king salmon belly last Sunday.

It was freshly caught and needed nothing more than to be grilled with a small drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of lemon pepper and a couple of dashes of jerk seasoning for a bit of pizazz. The Other Fisherman prepared and grilled it for our lunch. I love it when someone else does the cooking. I bet there were more Omega 3’s in that salmon belly than I’ve had all winter. As it cooked, it bubbled and sizzled with all that healthy fat.

While the Other Fisherman was out fishing for this royal species, I headed into town for the first farmers market of the season. I passed a truck parked by the Gear Shed with a sign on the side that read “fresh spot shrimp.” I have been craving fresh shrimp and stopped to purchase some. As I continued on to the market, I envisioned biting into deep-fried sweet spot shrimp made with a crunchy panko coating and dipped in spicy cocktail sauce. This has been my favorite meal since my first taste of Alaskan shrimp. How fortunate we are to enjoy availability of the best sustainably harvested seafood in the world. I love this time of year in Alaska.

Locally available produce and fresh arrivals coming up from the states have inspired me to serve salads almost daily. I especially like to make main dish salads this time of year. Salmon is a perfect protein partner for this, as it’s a beautiful and versatile fish, perfect on its own, but also enhanced by many different seasonings. The gorgeous color of the coral-red flesh is visually pleasing atop a bed of deep colored greens.

One of my favorite salads is a lemony Caesar salad served with a piece of freshly grilled salmon. It’s a perfect trifecta of flavors and textures all in one big forkful. Serve it with a cold glass of crisp, dry white wine and toast to your good fortune.

Lemon Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad

Serves 6

Prepare 6 filets of salmon, 4-6 ounces each, for grilling. Drizzle a little olive oil on the flesh and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep salmon cool while you are preparing the salad.

Next, prepare the croutons.

Cheesy Garlic Croutons

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Ingredients for croutons

1 loaf of dense artisan bread such as Como, a sourdough boule, or 4 ciabatta rolls cut into 3/4” cubes with a serrated knife

¼ cup butter, melted

¼ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Spread bread cubes onto a 15 inch by 10 inch by one-inch baking sheet.

In a small bowl combine melted butter, olive oil and garlic powder; mix well

Drizzle mixture over cubes and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and Parmesan cheese.

Bake until dry, crisp and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes.

Make your dressing next, clean grill grates, pre-heat your grill and prepare the romaine lettuce for dressing.

In a large, shallow bowl add 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces — about 10 cups.

If you wash it, make sure it is absolutely dry as the dressing won’t cling to the lettuce if it isn’t. Keep cool.

In a medium sized bowl make your dressing.

Lemon Caesar Dressing

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard – I like Country Dijon

1 teaspoon anchovy paste

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

Fresh ground black pepper

Pinch of sea salt

½ cup olive oil or oil

1 tablespoon dairy sour cream

1 cup freshly grated parmesan shavings to add to salad when assembling to serve.

Using a wire whisk, blend all dressing ingredients except the oil and sour cream. Gradually add oil, whisking constantly until smooth. Add sour cream and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Grill salmon filets on a medium-hot grill until desired doneness. I like my salmon cooked through. If your salmon filet is 1 inch thick grilling time is about 3 minutes per side.

Assembly for serving:

Toss romaine gently with the dressing, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and as many croutons as you’d like.

To serve, mound a good amount of dressed salad and place a piece of grilled salmon atop salad on plate.

Barbequed Alaskan Salmon

Serves 4

This preparation for salmon is easy, good and has been in my salmon library of recipes for many years.

Ingredients for sauce

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons golden brown sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons soy sauce

¼ teaspoon black pepper

4 salmon steaks or filets.

Directions: In a small saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients. Cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Grill salmon over medium high heat, covered, about 4 minutes depending on thickness of salmon. Turn salmon over and baste with sauce as salmon finishes cooking. Baste with more sauce before serving.

Balsamic vinegar is a special, magic ingredient in my kitchen. It is glorious added to marinades, dressings and even drizzled over fresh strawberries and figs.

Grilled Honey Balsamic Salmon

Serves 2

Ingredients for sauce:

1 ½ tablespoons honey

1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 6-ounce salmon steaks

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl. Brush mixture over salmon. Clean and lightly oil grill grates.

Place fish on grill and cover. Cook to desired doneness.

Have fun fishing and cooking this summer.

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