Mar 26, 2013

The Aloha State Loves SALMON

Sesame Salmon Sashimi
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Hawaii is a state that consumes twice as much fish as any other in the U.S., local fish like ahi, ono, mahi mahi and opakapaka. But there is another fish that is not from Hawaii that is heavily consumed here, SALMON. Salmon was introduced to Hawaii by western sailors many years ago, and has grown in popularity ever since. The most common use for salmon here would be for lomi lomi salmon. Lomi lomi salmon is similar to poke, in that it is cut into small cubes and cured in salt instead of soy sauce. This dish is now a classic and integral part of most Hawaiian parties and gatherings, such as traditional luaus, and can be considered a Hawaiian ethnic food alongside poi, kalua pig, poke and laulau.

Most fresh salmon found in Hawaii is imported from the U.S. Pacific northwest, the Atlantic, and even as far away as New Zealand, but it is also very popular here right out of a can. It's one fish that you can always find in our small grocery stores here on the island of Moloka'i, alongside ahi tuna and mahi mahi. Salmon is also very popular served raw in sushi bars here in Hawaii. I love the stuff, who wouldn't, beautiful color, velvety texture, buttery flavor, and it's good for you because it's packed with omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. That's why "The Aloha State Loves SALMON".

Salmon Recipes:

Lomi Lomi Salmon Lettuce Wraps
Lomi lomi in Hawaiian means to rub, massage, or kneed. In this case raw salmon is cured with salt, then the rest of the ingredients are added along with lettuce leaves for serving as a delicious appetizer.

1/4 cup coarse sea salt
8 ounces salmon fillet
1/2 cup finely diced white onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1 cup diced tomato
16 butter lettuce leaves

Place salt and fish in a large zip-top plastic bag; shake bag to coat fish evenly. Chill 8 hours or overnight. Remove fish from bag; rinse well. Soak fish in ice water 2 hours, changing water every 30 minutes. Drain well. Pat fish dry with paper towels. Dice fish; place in a large bowl. Set aside.

Soak white onion in ice water 15 minutes. Drain well. Add diced onion, green onions, and diced tomato to fish; toss gently to combine. Spoon about 3 tablespoons fish mixture into each lettuce leaf. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon Poke with Roasted Salmon Skin
Instead of the typical Ahi tuna poke that is normally served here in Hawaii, try this recipe using salmon, garnished with crispy roasted salmon skin.

8 ounce fillet of sushi grade salmon with the skin on
Tamari sauce or soy sauce
sesame oil
Shaoxing cooking wine or sake
black and white, roasted sesame seeds
Hawaiian sea salt, or kosher salt
furikake (roasted nori seasoning, available in the Asian section of your grocery store)
chives or green onion, chopped finely

Start by running a sharp knife along the bottom of the fillet to remove the salmon skin. Put the skin on a sheet of foil or parchment paper, skin side down. Put it into a 350˚F oven until it is crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the skin from the oven to cool. When cool, cut into thin strips, and set aside.

Next dice the fresh salmon flesh into 3/4 inch cubes, and put them into a bowl. Drizzle the salmon cubes with a little soy sauce, sesame oil and Shaoxing cooking wine. Be sure to taste, making sure to adjust the flavors as you go. Add some black and white sesame seeds as well as some finely chopped chives or green onions. Finally season with a touch of salt. Spoon the poke into two bowls. Top with a sprinkle of furikake, then garnish the poke with the salmon skin strips. The roasted salmon skin is a nice compliment to the salmon and gives a good texture contrast. Makes 2 servings.

Sesame Salmon Sashimi
I absolutely love raw salmon, and this is an excellent way to try it. In Italy this would be called "Carpaccio of Salmon", in Hawaii it's sashimi, thanks to the Japanese. I like to buy the belly, lower side of the salmon, it has more fat, and fat is flavor. I wish I was eating this right now! (See photo above).

2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce or soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon prepared Wasabi paste, or to taste
3/4 pound, sushi grade, salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves for garnish
2 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds for garnish
pickled ginger

Combine the sesame oil, Tamari sauce, lime juice, and Wasabi paste in a bowl to make a sauce. Arrange the thinly sliced salmon onto two plates and pour the sauce over the salmon. Cover the salmon with plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator to marinate in the sauce for 5-10 minutes. To serve, garnish the marinated salmon with cilantro leaves and sesame seeds. Serve with pickled ginger. Makes 2 servings.

Note: Tamari sauce is used by most sushi bars as a dipping sauce. It is very similar to soy sauce but is thicker, darker, and richer in flavor, and is less salty. Both soy sauce and Tamari contain wheat, but wheat-free versions of Tamari sauce are available for anyone on a gluten-free diet. You can usually find Tamari sauce, prepared Wasabi paste, and pickled ginger, in the Asian section of grocery stores.

Baked Wild Sockeye Salmon 
with Garlic and Dijon Mustard
This is my go-to baked salmon recipe for any kind of salmon, not just Sockeye.

1.5 pounds salmon
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
lemon or lime slices
1 tablespoon capers for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a rimmed baking dish with foil. In a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic, Old Bay Seasoning, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Mix well. Cut salmon into even portions and lay them onto your lined baking dish skin side down. Generously brush all sides of your salmon with the sauce and top with fresh lemon slices. Bake at 450°F for 12-15 minutes or until just cooked through. Don't over-cook or your fish will be dry. Garnish with capers. Serve with rosemary parsley potatoes and lemon-dill green beans. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon Sliders with Fresh Pineapple Salsa
Hawaiians love sweet bread, a recipe that came to the islands via the Portuguese. It's a sweet, soft white bread that is made into a variety of shapes. Fortunately King's Bakery, over on Oahu, makes these little sweet dinner rolls that are perfect for sliders. Sliders are like small hamburger sized sandwiches. Add salmon patties with Hawaiian spices and top that off with a fresh pineapple salsa and there you have it.

7 Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls (King's Hawaiian brand sweet dinner rolls)
1 pound fresh salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, then cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup minced green onion
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Ponzu sauce
1 egg
dash of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil for frying

Pineapple Salsa Ingredients:
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1 jalapeno roughly cut, or to taste
1 handful cilantro
1/2 small red onion, chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or more to taste

For the sliders, In a food processor pulse one roll 6 to 8 times to create breadcrumbs. In another medium bowl, mix ginger, garlic, onion, soy sauce, Ponzu sauce, and one egg. Stir in salmon and breadcrumbs, add cayenne pepper to your taste. Divide the salmon mixture into 6 equal sections. On a square of plastic wrap, place one sixth of salmon mixture in the center. Gather all the edges together and gently squeeze at the gather to compress ingredients (this will help your patties stay together). Unwrap the salmon, which will be in the shape of a ball, fold the plastic wrap back over the salmon ball and gently press down to form a patty about 1/4 “ thick. Wrap the burger up with the wrap again and place on a plate in the refrigerator. Repeat with the remaining salmon. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it’s finely chopped but not pureed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook sliders, heat oil over medium heat in a large non-stick pan. Add salmon patties and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until crispy and brown on the outside, turn and cook an additional 3 to 4 or until crispy and brown on the outside. Serve on a split Hawaiian Sweet roll topped with pineapple salsa. Makes 6 sliders, enough for 3 servings.

Spicy Salmon Pita Pockets
Salmon is actually delicious cooked in a microwave oven. Here is a recipe that is fast and easy and it is delicious.

3/4 pound fresh salmon filet
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce
2-3 fresh cut lime slices
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups of shredded Chinese cabbage (napa cabbage), leafy part only
fresh lime juice
1 pita bread
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, roasted

Rinse salmon filet with cold water and pat dry. Place the salmon skin side down in a microwave save container. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and Sriracha hot chili sauce. Generously spread the mayonnaise mixture on top of the fillet. Add lime slices and parsley. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave the fish for about 3 minutes on high. Check the center of the filet for doneness with a fork. If there is any uncooked fish, microwave for another 30-45 seconds. Heat pita bread in the microwave for about a 15 to 30 seconds on high until hot. Cut it in half and open each half. Fill each half with cabbage until it is about half full. Squeeze fresh lime juice on cabbage. Divide the salmon into two equal pieces and crumble each half into a pita pocket. Garnish with additional chopped parsley and Sriracha/mayonnaise chili sauce if desired. Sprinkle with chopped macadamia nuts and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Hawaiian Baked Salmon
I first had this foil wrapped salmon, grilled over kiawe wood coals at a potluck dinner here on Moloka'i. I was amazed to see the fish smothered in mayonnaise, but it all melted into the fish to make an incredible moist salmon. Needless to say, there were no leftovers.

heavy aluminum foil
3 pounds salmon fillets
5 lup chong (Chinese sausage), sliced thin
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cups Best mayonnaise
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped green onions for garnish

Place heavy foil in a baking pan large enough to hold the salmon fillets and be able to fold the foil over the fish to form an airtight package. Place salmon fillets on top of foil. Layer lup chong and sliced onions over the filets. Cover with mayonnaise, breadcrumb and parmesan cheese. Fold the foil over the fish and seal. Bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes, then open the foil and bake for 15 minutes more, or until the cheese is brown and melted. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped green onions and serve with hot white rice. Makes 8 servings.

Pan Seared Salmon with 
Coconut Cream Spinach Sauce
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet cut into four pieces
canola oil for frying
salt and pepper
chopped cilantro or Thai basil for garnish
toasted macadamia nuts for garnish
coconut flakes for garnish

Ingredients for the Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh spinach stems removed, leaves cut into strips
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups canned, unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the spinach and onion and cook while stirring for 4-5 minutes, until onion becomes translucent. Add the heavy cream. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk. Cook for another 2 minutes. If the sauce is thin, add some cornstarch mixture and cook for another minute. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons canola oil. Salt and pepper the four salmon fillets and place in pan. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on size and thickness of fillets), until salmon is just cooked through. To serve, place about 1/4 cup of sauce on each plate. Top with salmon fillet and garnish with chopped cilantro or Thai basil and a little toasted macadamia nuts and coconut flakes. Serve with rice. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon and Asparagus Wrapped in Puff Pastry
This is a beautiful dish that is perfect for a fancy dinner party. It's not Hawaiian but it's delicious and makes a wonderful presentation.

1 salmon fillet, about 1½ pounds
1 pound asparagus (trim off any woody stems)
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese or lemon creme fraiche (see recipe on this site)
zest of 1 lemon
1 pound of puff pastry (2 sheets, thawed)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten

Skin and bone the salmon fillet and set aside. Heat the oven to 425˚F. Poach the asparagus in boiling salted water until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well. Add to an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Drain completely. Cut the tips off the asparagus, measuring so they just fit across the top of the salmon. Set aside enough to cover the top of the salmon fillet. Purée the remaining asparagus. Add in the pine nuts and puree until smooth. Place in a bowl and stir in the mascarpone, and lemon zest, to blend. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Lay a sheet of puff pastry on a damp baking sheet. Lay the salmon in the middle of the pastr. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the asparagus puree on top of the salmon. Lay the tips of the asparagus on top of the puree. Brush the margins of the pastry with the egg wash. Lay the top pastry over the entire salmon and press the edges to seal. Trim the edges, leaving about a 1-inch border. Press with the tines of a fork to seal. Make two or three slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Brush all over with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 350˚F and cover pastry with foil to keep the pastry from burning. Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before slicing and serving. Makes 6 servings.

Roast Salmon Linguine with Broccoli Florets 
& Creamy Parmesan Mornay Sauce
This is one of my favorite salmon recipes. A creamy Parmesan mornay sauce embraces the roasted salmon linguine with broccoli florets. This is an easy recipe, suitable for company or the family. Serve with a side salad, crusty garlic bread, and a cold glass of Chardonnay. 

1 pound salmon fillet, flaked
salt and white pepper to taste
1-16 ounce box of linguine pasta
1 large bunch broccoli, cut into florets (about 2 1/2 cups)
4 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (divided)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 tablespoons capers, drained

Remove any bones from salmon, leaving the skin on. Put the salmon skin side down on a foil lined cookie sheet. Coat salmon with a teaspoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Put on the middle rack of your oven and broil on high for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. When cooled, remove and discard the skin. With your fingers, break the salmon into small chunks, removing any bones you may have missed. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook linguine according to package directions, adding broccoli florets to the salted water during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and broccoli and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in flour until well blended, about 2 minutes, being careful to not let the sauce turn brown. Add the milk and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, stir until cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Add lemon juice, stir until blended.

Add salmon chunks, salt and pepper, and heat through. Add the drained linguine and broccoli to the large skillet. Stir in basil, and capers. Taste for final seasoning. Serve each plate with a sprinkling of the remaining Parmesan cheese. Serve with a side salad, crusty garlic bread, and a cold bottle of Chardonnay. Makes 4 large servings.

Curing and Smoking Salmon at Home
Cameron's Large Smoker Cooker
15"x11" size for $54.95
Curing and smoking salmon is a good thing, and is actually quite simple to do. Naturally you will need a small home smoker to do this procedure. Years ago I bought this large (15"x11") stove top smoker called "Cameron's Smoker Cooker" which is still available on It's made of stainless steal and comes with "chiplets", basically containers of sawdust made from different hardwoods for smoking different foods. It's also dishwasher safe. Amazon's price is only $54.99 with smoking chips, but it can be also be found elsewhere, it's an excellent product. This smoker is a good investment. It can provide you with a whole new world of flavors, especially with fish and seafood. Yesterday I smoked 2 pounds of salmon using this device and after curing the salmon overnight, it only took 30 minutes to smoke it right over the burner on my gas stove. This smoked salmon is great served on a bagel covered with cream cheese, salmon pieces and a sprig of fresh dill on top.

Smoked Salmon in Cameron's Smoker Cooker
Click on photo to view larger
Brine for Curing Salmon:
This mixture is an important step in that it flavors the salmon before smoking it.

1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sake, or mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
8 sliced peeled fresh ginger coins, 1/8 inch thick
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 pounds salmon fillet, skin removed, deboned and cut into 2-ounce 1 inch strips
8 fresh sage leaves*

In a bowl, whisk the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, sake or mirin, garlic, and salt together until the sugar dissolves, then add the ginger. Put the salmon pieces in a non-reactive container, or I use a large plastic zip-lock freezer bag, then pour the curing liquid over the salmon. Allow the salmon to marinate in the refrigerator overnight, (about 10 hours), turning it once half way through. Line the inside bottom of your smoker with heavy-duty foil, then put 1/2 cup of alder wood chips in the middle of the foil. Place the drip pan over the chips, then the grill. Spray the grill with nonstick spray so the salmon doesn't stick to it. Remove the salmon from the marinade, and place the pieces on the sprayed grill of the smoker. Place a sage leaf on top of each piece of cured salmon or whatever herb you like. Slide the top on to close the smoker, then place the smoker on top of your stove with the ventilation fan on high. Smoke the salmon for about 30 minutes. Remove the fish and let come to room temperature for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate in another zip-lock freezer bag and refrigerate. Makes 8, 2-ounce servings.

*Note: Other herbs and spices can be used to flavor the salmon, like star anise, sage, fennel, or dill.

Japanese cucumber pickles make a good accompaniment to this recipe (see recipe index). You can make this a few days ahead and store it, covered, in the refrigerator.

Smoked Salmon Spread
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon Grey Poupon Harvest Coarse Ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound smoked salmon, minced (I used the Cameron's Smoker shown above to smoke the salmon, using alder wood chips)

Cream the cheese in a medium sized bowl or food processor, until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lime juice, dill, mustard, cayenne pepper, and salt, and mix. Add the minced smoked salmon then mix well. Taste and add any additional seasonings to your taste. Keeps for a couple of days tightly sealed in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, serve with thinly sliced baguette rounds, cucumber sticks, toasted bagels, or your favorite crackers. Makes about 2 cups.

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
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6 eggs
1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup smoked salmon broken into pieces
1 teaspoon dried or fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Crack 6 eggs into a small bowl. Add sour cream. Whip vigorously until sour cream is incorporated in the eggs. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, then pour in the whipped eggs. Stir the eggs until cooked to your liking. Add the salmon pieces and serve garnished with dill and pepper with cucumber-tomato salsa on the side. Makes 2 servings.


Unknown said...

Aloha Jim, You have inspired Mike to dust off our smoker and get some salmon on the grill. So far we've enjoyed a few slabs, the first of which was gobbled up too quickly to make salmon spread. Since then we've made the smoked salmon spread twice and enjoyed each and every morsel. I know the recommendation is to eat it on baguettes or raw veggies, but our favorite is right off a spoon😊 Thank you for sharing the excellent recipes! Jenny & Mike Wada

James Temple said...

Hey Jenny, glad you and Mike like the recipe. Thanks for the comment!