Now that it's August, it's safe to say that the salmon season is starting to wind down in Southcentral Alaska.
The king salmon are mostly upstream, and while the silvers are just starting to make their push, the reds — which make up the bulk of the run — are getting harder to find. Dipnetting on the Kenai River, Alaska's most popular salmon fishery, closed Monday.
Hopefully you were among the lucky ones catching what you needed, or at least coming close. Or maybe your freezer is overflowing with salmon bounty, even if you didn't catch it yourself.
With the hard work done, now it's time to cook. But where to start? It can be hard to sort through all the techniques and recipes available. But we're here to help.
How to fillet
Staring down a whole fish and not knowing where to begin? Watch this:
How to grill
Sure, you can roast and pan-fry your way to a delicious salmon dinner, but grilling is the best way to savor fish in the summer. The bonus is that it just happens to be dead simple.
How to can
Not willing to invest in that chest freezer but feeling flooded with salmon? Try canning. It's a time-intensive process with many steps, but the surest way to make sure you have room in your freezer for other things (like more fish).
How to cook it
Alaska Dispatch News food columnists know their way around salmon. Here are some of their most popular recipes.
Blueberry cured lox
Is there anything that says Alaska bounty better than salmon cured with blueberries? Probably not. This preparation is as Instagram-able as it is delicious.
Salmon roasted with soy and browned butter
Salmon generally doesn't need a lot to dress it up, but this recipe hits the sweet spot by combining nutty browned butter with ginger and soy sauce. Get ready for some amazing pan drippings. Recipe here.
Still dealing with salmon from last year? Wanting to move out of your grilled fillet comfort zone? Just want something super rich and comforting? Instead of beef, try salmon Wellington.
MAYA WILSON, Alaska From Scratch
Broiled salmon with birch syrup glaze
Birch syrup has a rich, almost molasses-like flavor that pairs exceptionally well with salmon. By broiling the fish and using only a handful of ingredients, this recipe comes together quickly — a perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Salmon taco salad
Fish tacos are everywhere, salmon tacos not excepted. Skip the tortilla and try a salmon taco salad instead.
Honey Sriracha salmon lettuce wraps
Not only is it the height of salmon season, it's also prime time to get your hands on locally grown vegetables. Combine the two to get on this super light, super tasty salmon dish.
Or try something new
Alyeska Resort Executive Chef Jason Porter shared a recipe for the resort's smoked salmon cakes with rhubarb tartar sauce. It's a great way to use two widely available Alaska ingredients.
Porter recommends serving these rich salmon cakes with a lightly dressed greens and a slice of lime. He said it pairs well with a crisp German Gewruztraminer wine.
Be advised that this recipe is scaled for 20 portions – so adjust accordingly.
Smoked salmon cakes with rhubarb tartar sauce
Makes approximately 20 4-ounce portions
Smoked salmon cakes
3 pounds uncooked salmon
1 pound smoked salmon
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup parsley, chopped
½ cup chives, chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
Olive oil and butter, for frying
Finely chop all of the salmon. Then mix salmon together with the remaining ingredients. Scoop about 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) portions into either a ring mold or shape them into patties by hand. Place cakes on a lined sheet tray and refrigerate for up to 30 minutes or overnight.
Fry cakes over medium heat in a mix of fat that is 50 percent olive oil and 50 percent butter. Fry until one side is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Turn cakes and repeat until the center is hot when tested with a knife tip inserted into the center of the cake. If the cakes are not hot, place in 375 degree oven for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the cake.
Makes approximately 2 quarts
2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cleaned
3 cups white vinegar
1 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, julienned
6 allspice berries
2 dried red chilies
Cut rhubarb to desired length and place in jars lengthwise
Heat vinegar, sugar, salt, chilies and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Add onion, cloves and allspice berries and simmer for 1 minute. Removed from heat and let cool. Fill the jars with pickling brine and store under refrigeration for at least 3 days. Can be stored for up to 3 weeks.
Pickled rhubarb tartar sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup pickled rhubarb finely diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons capers, minced
1 ½ teaspoon shallots, finely diced
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
½ teaspoon parsley, chopped
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.