Fresh and easy Northwest salmon

Poached and cooked salmon with Riesling is delicious, and easy to prepare. - Contributed Photo
Poached and cooked salmon with Riesling is delicious, and easy to prepare.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

As I look at the gorgeous past couple of days, I can only hope that summer has finally arrived to the Pacific Northwest. Many of us are trying desperately to shed those last few extra pounds we have gained during the dreadful, long, cold and wet winter and spring that we have endured. It is once again refreshing to take the dog or kids outside for a walk or to the playground, and maybe even swim in the lake or pool.

I am also thinking about what to make for dinner that does not take much effort. It must be full in flavor, rich in vitamins, low in fat, hopefully gluten-free or low in carbs, and most importantly have great color, texture and a good fill-the-stomach factor. One of my most favorite dinners to make is a salmon louie, Katsman style.

Since salmon is a staple protein source in our home, I am always thinking of where I can purchase the freshest of fish. Having lived in the Northwest now for almost 20 years, I have learned what smells are enticing for the freshest of fish. Fresh fish never smells like stinky sweat sox; fresh fish is clean, smelling like the ocean, lake or stream that it was caught in. Fresh fish has a nice gentle, pure smell — almost sweet, not like candy, but like a fresh spring day at the beach. Growing up in the Midwest, one never learned what cold water fresh ocean fish smells like, or tastes like, for that matter.

I have learned a lot from our local professional fisherman, Mike. He leaves for the brutal Alaskan waters for several months at a time fishing for salmon. He prepares his boat, hires his crew, and purchases the food for three to six weeks at a time. Leaving his wife and daughters with minimal off-shore contact in order to help you receive the best salmon around, Mike is no ordinary Mercer Island dad. His job is far from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday, and fighting I-5 traffic or I-90 traffic. He is navigating the deep blue seas.

Fresh salmon right off the boat has a wonderful, ocean-sweet smell. The color of the fish is even different than the local market. There are no dyes or flavor enhancers added to fresh fish. Since the USDA regulations for fish are much more lenient than other food industries, one really does not know how fresh their store-bought fish is and when it actually was taken off the boat. From Mike, I have learned what is really fresh and what is grocery store fresh. The two are worlds apart. Since I do not enjoy fishing, I do enjoy the benefits of those who do. Lucky for me, I know some of the right people.

I generally prepare my fish with minimal effort and little seasoning. We never drench or cover our fish with a fat-laden sauce.

Riesling Poached Salmon

6 servings

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

2 cups Riesling wine (purchase the cheapest that you can find)

1- or 2-inch cinnamon stick

6 skinless center cut salmon fillets (about 1/2 pound each)

1/4 cup water

Course sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

In a large skillet, toast the coriander over moderately high heat until fragrant, about two minutes.  Add Riesling and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the salmon and water. Cover and cook over low heat until opaque throughout, about 12 minutes. Transfer salmon onto six plates; season with salt and white pepper, then spoon about 1 tablespoon of the salmon broth mixture (cooking liquid) over each fillet along with 1 teaspoon of olive oil (optional; I leave off). Sprinkle with cilantro and serve. Can be served at room temperature or chilled.


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