Food: Commercial salmon season banned—again! Plus fabo Vietnamese recipe for steamed fish.



Noooooooooooooooooooo! It seems that every day there’s a new story about the banning of California and most of Oregon’s salmon season. It’s the second year in a row. Good golly Miss Molly, what the heck is going on?

Here’s what the SF Chronicle said on April 9:

The move, which the National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to make final by May 1, comes after the fewest chinook salmon ever recorded made their way up the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers last fall. “There are just no fish,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “If they allowed any fishing, they would be putting at risk future fishing.”

This is not good news folks. California’s fishing industry, in general, seems to be in trouble. In the straits a couple blocks from my house the fishermen are going after sturgeon, which according to a couple of frustrated guys this past weekend, are way down.


Well, I guess this means that I’ll have to hightail it up to Alaska to see my friend Hellcat—she’s probably got some salmon, right?

For those that do have access to fresh salmon, here’s one of my favorite Vietnamese salmon recipes, which I’ve adapted from the fantastic cookbook Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by San Jose author and blogger, Andrea Nguyen.

Steamed Salmon with Garlic, Ginger and Lemongrass
Serves: 4-6

Flavoring Sauce
1 1/4 tspn sugar
1/4 tspn black pepper
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp sweet sushi vinegar (this is my substitution instead of the recommended soy sauce since I generally stay away from the gluten. Plus I love the taste of the sweet vinegar. Trust me on this.)
2 1/2 tbsp canola or other neutral oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
3 scallions, green part only, chopped
1 tbsp lemongrass, minced (my addition—and I use the stuff out of tube. Gasp!)

1 scallion, white part only, cut lengthwise into strips (for garnish … and I usually don’t do this, although I suppose it would be prettier if I did)
1 1/4 pounds salmon fillet, halved crosswise into 2 equal pieces (my preference) OR
2 salmon steaks, 10-12 ounces each
4-6 sprigs cilantro (sometimes I use mint or Italian parsley)

1. First make the sauce. In a small bowl, combine the first four ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. In a small skillet or saucepan, heat the oil over medium. Add the garlic and saute 15 seconds. Add the ginger and lemongrass and saute for another minute or two. Pour in the sauce mixture and bring to boil. Add scallions and then remove from heat. Set aside. (The sauce can be made up to one day in advance, but make sure to store it at room temperature and covered. I have frequently doubled this batch and then used it as a sauce on stir fried veggies with tofu or chicken. Totally yummy!)

2. Scatter some scallions on a non-reactive pan or dish that is slightly smaller than your steaming pot/tray. (I use a 9×13 or 8×8 cake pan depending on the amount of fish.) Place your fish on top of the scallions in the pan.

3. Fill your steaming pot/tray (I use a large Le Creuset stock pot) a couple inches full of water and bring to rolling boil. Then place your pan of fish right on top of the boiling water, cover and let it steam for 10 minutes. (I start checking it around 7 minutes.) You should be able to stick a knife into the flesh and have it easily go all the way through.

4. Turn off the heat and transfer the fish to a platter (Andrea suggests a warmed plate, but I never do. Bad me.) and pour the sauce on top. Garnish with remaining scallions and herbs. Serve with rice or baby potatoes.

Voila. Pretty easy, actually. I make this sauce for all kinds of fish dishes whether baked, fried or steamed. And it tastes fantastic with steamed veggies like chinese broccoli or bok choy.

For those who can, enjoy. I’ll just sit here and suffer quietly. You go ahead. No, really. Please. Have some salmon for me, will ya?


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