Monday, May 14, 2007

Still Life With Salmon

I have taken to eating outside again. I've cleaned off the little table, and I bring out my book (The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy), and sit and read while I eat. I have a hummingbird that zips over to say hello before dashing off to his next appointment. This is also the season when the crows convene a summit in the eucalyptus tree next to my neighbor's house. Occasionally a red shouldered hawk will try to muscle his way in, but the crows make a great fuss over chasing him away. And after the commotion is over, there's the sweet sound of finches and warblers filling the air.

Sometime last week I noticed that I had run out of gas for my barbeque. Somehow, that item on the "to do" list actually got done, so I was ready when the urge for salmon struck. Salmon is one of those foods that just fits with so many moods. I love it off the grill. And I love the salad I create the next day. And if there's anything left over, there's always pasta - a perfect starting point for any kind of leftovers. I managed to find some wild caught salmon - always an extra treat!

Terry B over at Blue Kitchen created a beautiful, springtime sauce for salmon last Wednesday. I bought the salmon thinking I was going to try it, but somehow my taste buds were asking me to do a rub for the fish instead. So Terry's beautiful sauce will have to wait until next time.

I love the simplicity of putting a bunch of dry ingredients into a bowl, mixing them up and rubbing them on meat, poultry or fish. I have a friend who lives in Oregon, right on the banks of the Rogue River. He catches salmon in his back yard! One time when I was visiting him and his family, he made a salmon that practically brought tears of joy to my eyes. It was simple, it was flavorful, and of course, it was very, very fresh. I asked him for his recipe and he just laughed. He didn't really have one, of course. He told me he just put some brown sugar, red chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and salt together and rubbed it on the fish.
I've been using that basic recipe ever since. The sugar cuts the heat of the chili, so the hotter the chili, the more sugar you'll need. Other than that, it's up to you. The proportions were never given to me, so it's really a matter of personal taste.

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Freya said...

I love salmon rubs too, rather than a sauce - highlights the fish more than anything else. Looks delicious too!

Patricia Scarpin said...

This is perfect, Toni - salmon is great and doesn't need a bunch of things to shine. This rub is a wonderful idea!

I've been meaning to try Terry's sauce too. :)

Toni said...

Freya and Paul - I agree, it does highlight the fish. And since salmon has a high oil content, it doesn't need much sauce.

Pat - Thanks!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Recently, for the first time, I had grilled salmon rubbed with chile and brown sugar. What an amazing flavor profile! I don't usually cook anything with sugar, but you're right, the balance between sweet and hot makes neither one dominant, but perfectly complimentary.

Stella said...

Hmm, love this dish. I'd die for a fresh piece of salmon right now...
Your friend is truly a lucky one, to have salmon whenever he wants!

Anonymous said...

Toni--First, thanks for the nice plug. The rub sounds fantastic! I haven't fired up the grill yet this season. May have to do it for this, though.

Chris said...

Toni, this looks delicious! I have never grilled salmon...need to get one of the rack things. I think its time! :)

Toni said...

Lydia - Yes, the chili sugar combo is something I learned in NM. Actually, there they use sopapillas with honey poured into them to douse the flames of the chili. I'm not a great fan of using sugar, but I've learned to love it more and more with this rub!

Valentina - Yes, he and his family are lucky....To have a large river flowing right past the edge of their lawn is just heaven!!!

Terry - It's easy to give you a nice plug. I LOVE your blog! It's an easy and always interesting read, and the photos are just great. What's not to love?

Chris - OMG! You haven't grilled a salmon? Are you in for a treat, girl! I don't use any racks. It's about letting the metal get hot and the flame get very low (or just glow). My girlfriend in NM doesn't even flip her salmon over and it cooks to perfection. I like to turn mine, just so it gets some toasting on the top. Be bold!!

Unknown said...

Toni - Tom Robbins would be proud you borrowed his title to introduce such a lovely dinner. Grilling fish is so wonderful and summery. I'm tucking your rub recipe away for warmer days.

Toni said...

e - I've always loved the title!