Feb 14, 2014

SALMON... Bits & Bones

Friendly Market
$5.14 for both

click on photo to view larger
I've lived and cooked on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i for 12 years. During that time I have been to Friendly Market, our largest grocery store, hundreds of times. They always have salmon for sale in their fish department which I have always thought was strange because it is imported. Occasionally they sell packages of salmon bones, or heads... yes salmon bones and heads. I have always wondered what people here do with packages of salmon bones, that by the way, have lots of meat still left on them. At first I thought that they are buying these bits & bones because they are inexpensive, but there is more to this than that.

Today I was checking out of the market when I noticed that the lady behind me had a package of salmon bones. I asked her politely, after mentioning that I love to cook, how she cooked her salmon bones. She told me that she didn't cook, but that someone in her family did, and that she sauteed them and then put tomatoes over the top. She said that she just had them two nights before and they were delicious, full of meat, and here she was buying more.
Yield 2 cups of fresh salmon meat

It turns out that the bits & bones are quite possibly the best cuts on the salmon, as they are fattier and have a more interesting texture and flavor than the fillets. We are not just talking about the salmon bones now, but the heads, bellies and collars as well.

One way they enjoy these salmon bits & bones is to roast or smoke the bones, bellies, and collars of the salmon and pick off the meat for salmon salad and salmon cakes. Grilling is another way to cook these salmon bits & bones. Salmon is full of fat which is stored in their bellies which is great grilled. The salmon collars and fins are crispy when grilled, then it is dipped into a soy, mirin, and sake sauce, laced with a little sugar and dash of togarashi seasoning. We are talking about foodgasms here folks. I guess there is some truth in the saying "the closer to the bone, the sweeter the meat." The next time you see salmon bits & bones, be adventuresome and buy it, then try some of these recipes.

Salmon Bone Tartare
This simple salmon tartare can be made from the bits of raw salmon found around the bones, belly, and collar, topped with Moloka'i avocado.

3/4 pound fresh salmon picked from fresh salmon heads and collars
2 teaspoons scallions, finely minced
1 teaspoons tamari sauce
1 teaspoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine for cooking)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 ripe avocado, diced
juice from one fresh lime
Japanese cucumber, sliced 1/8 inch thick
Ichimi Togarashi (Japanese seven flavor chili pepper)
fresh chives or green onions, minced
black sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, mix together salmon, scallions, soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil.
In a small bowl, gently toss avocado, lime juice and salt to taste. Spoon Salmon Tartare on top of cucumber rounds, then top with a little chopped avocado. Sprinkle some Ichimi Togarashi or black sesame seeds, and chives on top to garnish. Serve immediately. Makes 8 pupus.

Hoisin Salmon Cakes
Everyone loves salmon cakes. This recipe puts a Hawaiian spin on the typical salmon cake with a sweet hint of hoisin sauce.

Hoisin Salmon Cake with Side Salad
Click on photo to view larger
1 pound salmon meat taken from bones, or from a filet
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (best to use a garlic press)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped spring onion
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons canola oil for frying
additional 2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce to brush on cakes
lettuce, tomato, and capers for a side salad, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice
sliced green onions and sesame seeds for garnish

Spread the fresh salmon bones, heads, and collars out in a baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam to keep from sticking (see photo above). Roast them for 20 minutes in a 325˚F oven. After the salmon has cooled, pick the meat from the bones, being especially careful to remove all of the bones. Note: If you don't want to go through this process, then simply buy a 3/4 pound salmon fillet, then dice it into 1/4" pieces without cooking it.

In a small bowl, combine ginger, garlic, soy, hoisin, sesame oil, and egg.

In a large bowl, combine the salmon pieces, onion and 1/4 cup of the panko. (Set aside the remaining panko in a shallow bowl.)

Add the liquid ingredients to the salmon mixture. Shape the salmon into 4 cakes. Carefully pat each of the cakes with the remaining panko.

Cover and refrigerate cakes for at least 1 hour up to 4 hours, which helps to solidify them.

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Heat canola oil in a non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Fry cakes 2 minutes on first side, turn, then fry second side 1 minute. Brush a small amount of hoisin sauce on the tops of the cakes.

Bake in oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with a side salad of lettuce, tomato, and capers, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. Garnish everything with green onions and sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon Cakes with Panko
An economical and delicious way to have crispy salmon cakes.

2 cups (about 12 ounces) cooked and flaked salmon
2 to 3 Tablespoons minced green onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 eggs
1/3 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs), plus more for coating the cakes
2 or 3 Tablespoons of olive oil for cooking

In a medium bowl, combine the salmon, green onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Mix to combine everything thoroughly. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Now gently combine the salmon mixture and the beaten eggs. Now combine the Panko with the salmon mixture.

Put a little olive oil on your hands before forming into 3-inch cakes. Place them on a baking sheet, cover, and chill for a few hours for the best final results.

Now press the cakes into Panko to make them extra crispy.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and cook salmon cakes, until golden brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn over and cook until golden brown on the other side and cooked through, another 4 minutes. Repeat with any remaining cakes. Serve hot with steamed snow peas. Makes about 4 cakes.

Salmon Head Soup
This Japanese soup recipe has no unsavory parts of the head in it, like eyeballs, only the meat and bones. The bones have a wonderful gelatinous quality from the collagen that make the broth so satisfying.

4 salmon heads (gills removed)
1 small onion, chopped, about 1 cup
one 2-inch piece of dried kombu seaweed (optional)
one 3-inch piece of peeled and slivered ginger
salt to taste
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine, used for cooking)
Asian noodles (somen, udon or rice noodles... your choice)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons white miso paste
chives or diced spring onions
sliced chiles for garnish

Wash the salmon heads well to remove any blood or gills. Gills will ruin the broth by making it bitter and cloudy. Cover the heads with water in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, kombu and ginger and bring to a simmer. Do not let this boil. Simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes.

Strain the broth and save the heads. Pick out all the meat from the heads, especially the cheek meat. Reserve in a bowl.

Return the broth to a clean pot and add the mirin. Heat but do not let boil. Add the soy sauce. If the broth still needs salt, add salt — not more soy sauce, as that will make the broth too dark.
Bring another pot of salted water to a boil: This is for the noodles. Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package.

Ladle out some broth into soup bowls. Add a heaping teaspoon of miso (or more) to each bowl and stir to combine. Portion out the noodles to each bowl. Add the salmon meat on top of the noodles. Each person should get at least one cheek. Cover with more broth, garnish with chives and sliced chiles and serve at once. Makes 4 servings.

Salmon Chowder
The broth for this salmon chowder is made from bits & bones of the salmon, which help to make this wonderful chowder taste like you knew what you were doing.

Ingredients for salmon broth:
3 to 4 pounds salmon, heads, fins and bones (make certain the gills have been removed!)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup white wine
1 handful of dried mushrooms (preferably matsutake)
2 bay leaves

Ingredients for chowder:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 pound thick bacon, cut into batons
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
5 to 6 cups salmon broth (or 4 cups chicken broth plus 1 to 2 cups water)
1 to 2 pounds skinless, boneless salmon meat, cut into chunks
1 cup corn, fresh or thawed
2/3 cup heavy cream
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or chives, for garnish

To make the broth, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well. Add the salmon bones, heads, etc. When the water returns to a boil, let this cook for 1 minute. Remove the salmon bits and discard the water. Blanching this way removes the scum from the stock and will give you a cleaner-tasting broth when you are done.

Wipe out the pot, add the oil, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, saute the onion, carrot and celery, stirring often, until the onion is soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, bay leaves and the dried mushrooms and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Let the wine boil for a minute or two, then add the remaining ingredients — including the blanched salmon bones. Pour in enough cool water to cover everything by about 1/2 inch. Bring to a very gentle simmer (barely bubbling) and cook like this for 45 minutes. Note: you don't want to boil the heads, keep the liquid at a gentle simmer, around 190˚F.

Get a large bowl for the broth and set a strainer over it. Line the strainer with a plain paper towel or cheesecloth. Turn off the heat on the broth and ladle it through the strainer and into the bowl. Don’t bother trying to get the last little bit of broth out of the pot, as it will be full of debris. Discard the contents of the pot and reserve the broth.

To make the chowder, melt the butter in a Dutch oven or other soup pot set over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry, stirring and turning often, until crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the onion and celery and saute until soft, about another 4 to 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and the salmon broth and being to a simmer. Add salt to taste. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, add the corn and the chunks of salmon. Cook gently until the salmon is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the dill, heavy cream and black pepper. Serve at once. Makes 4 servings.

Cooking Crispy Salmon Skin
The skin of the salmon is wonderful as a snack or garnish, and it's fairly easy to prepare. Here's what you do:

Slice the skins from the meat off the salmon fillets. You will notice that you still have some meat and fat attached to the skin. That needs to go. Next you need to tenderize the skins. You do this by boiling in salty water; the salt helps season the skins. Salmon skin needs to boil for 3 to 5 minutes.

Now you need to carefully remove all the meat and fat from the skins. Gently lift the skins out of the boiling water and lay them meat side up on a cutting board. Now, using a butter knife, carefully lift and remove all the meat and fat. This is fairly tricky, so take your time, you don't want to tear the skin.

Once you have all the meat removed, you need to dry the skins. I do this in a dehydrator at 120°F until the skin dries, which isn’t too long — about 2 to 4 hours depending on the species of fish. I’ve also greased a baking sheet and laid the skins down (meat side up) and dried them in an oven set to 170°F. You will need to flip the skins at least once if you do this option.

When the skins are dried you can save them in the freezer indefinitely.

Frying is easy. Heat about 1 inch of high smoke-point oil, like canola oil — to between 350°F and 360°F. Get your seasonings nearby, as you will have only seconds to season before the skins’ surface dries. Salt is a must, but you can use other seasoning as well, like smoked paprika or lemon pepper.

Drop a couple skins into the hot oil and watch the magic: They will puff up immediately in an amazingly miraculous way. They will be ready in less than a minute. Watch for the sizzling to die down dramatically. Move them to paper towels with a slotted spoon and season immediately with salt. Once fried, they will stay crispy for about a day.

Grilled Teriyaki Salmon Collars
Salmon collars are full of fat and make a crunchy treat when marinated in teriyaki sauce and grilled as an appetizer, or as a main course. If you can't find collars, then this recipe will work with salmon steaks, but the collars actually taste better if you can get them.

3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine, used for cooking)
6 tablespoons sake
1/4 cup sugar
24 oz. salmon collar (2-4 depending on size of salmon and cut of collar) or six 4 oz. fillets
2 green onions, sliced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Place the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Put the salmon and marinade in a ziploc bag. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove the salmon from the marinade to a plate. Pour the marinade into the saucepan and boil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the teriyaki sauce has reduced its volume by half. This should take about 15 minutes. Get your grill ready on medium-low heat. Grill the salmon for about 4-5 minutes a side, basting with the teriyaki sauce, until done. Serve with more teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, and green onions. Makes 4 servings.

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