Monday, September 17, 2012

Oven-roasted Salmon with Herb Risotto and Olive-Tomato Tapenade

Fishing for silvers off Seattle has been good for the last couple weeks, and with the larger ocean-going fish now returning to Puget Sound, it's getting better. I lost a 10-pounder at the boat the other day. Most of the fish are the smaller resident coho, averaging four to five pounds.

Apparently there was some good action for kings earlier in the summer, too—until it got shut down—but I still think of silvers as our bread-and-butter fish. They're aggressive (i.e. susceptible to a fly or lure), they forage close to shore, and their bright red fillets are perfect for a quick grilling or oven-roasting.

Call me a Homer, but catching salmon within city limits is one of the great things about living in Seattle. It's a sweet feeling to get up early before work, or knock off work early, and string up the rod. Then, when you come home with a nice fish, you can say you've been working—you're putting food on the table.

For this dinner, I first scanned the garden: tomatoes and herbs were going crazy. I made a simple herb risotto using mostly marjoram and oregano plus a little thyme, and both cherry and roma tomatoes went into the tapenade. The salmon was oven-roasted and served over the risotto with a dollop of tapenade on top.

Herb Risotto

6 tbsp butter, divided
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp saffron threads
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
4 - 5 cups chicken broth
4 tsp fresh mixed herbs, chopped

1. Stir saffron into cup of wine and set aside.
2. Warm chicken stock in a pot.
3. Saute onion and garlic in half the butter over medium heat until translucent.
4. Stir in rice, coating well. Allow to toast for a few minutes.
5. Add wine. Let it bubble up and absorb into rice before stirring.
6. Continue to add a ladleful or two of warm stock until rice is done. It should be both creamy and al dente.
7. Off heat, stir in remaining butter and herbs. Cover.

Olive-Tomato Tapenade

1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 roma tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp capers
1/4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
dash balsamic vinegar, to taste

1. Saute shallot and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
2. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down.
3. Add lemon zest, capers, olives, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and add a little balsamic.
4. Reduce to low heat and cook together for a few minutes. Serve warm.


Ryan said...

Great post and lovely looking dish. Just wondering, what's your go-to fly for silvers?

Langdon Cook said...

Ryan - Depends on season and whether I'm fishing salt or fresh. In the salt this time of year I use baitfish patterns in green, blue, pink, white: variations on traditional patterns like clousers, deceivers, crazy charlies, etc. Shrimp-like patterns too, especially earlier in the year when resident silvers feed on a lot of amphipods. In fresh, I've taken coho on all kinds of flies, from steelhead patterns to sea-run cutt patterns like reverse spiders. Presentation and finding aggressive fish is probably more important in fresh water than fly selection, though I don't claim to be any kind of expert. And as much as I enjoy fly-fishing, I do more saltwater beach fishing with lures.

Gary said...

As nice looking as any restaurant dish, Lang, and prepared with so much more care. Love it.

ladyflyfsh said...

Candlefish patterns. I used to keep my aluminum boat chained up at the Fauntleroy Ferry dock in West Seattle and would go out after work with my elect. trolling motor, anchor out just opposite the shoreline and cast back toward the beach. They would be in close to shore in shallow water. The largest resident coho I caught was 6 pounds. Good fun...caught lots of blackmouth too.

calhoun said...

Did you by any possibility forget the part about roasting the salmon, or should we just use our usual technique?

Langdon Cook said...

Calhoun - I probably could have added a line in there about roasting. I brushed the skinless fillets with olive oil, seasoned with s & p, and placed on a piece of tinfoil on a roasting pan in an oven pre-warmed to 450 degrees. It took several minutes. Cooking time depends on thickness of fillets, but it's easy to check just by looking at the sides of the fillet. Oven roasting is a super easy way to cook salmon and gives a "restaurant-style" look to the finished plate.

Anonymous said...

For someone that would be starting out to fish for salmon and doesn't own a boat. What would you recommend? Is that possible around Seattle?

Langdon Cook said...

Anonymous - Plenty of opportunities in the Seattle area to fish both beaches and rivers. I'd choose one or the other for starters. Visit a local tackle shop and talk to the staff before deciding what kind of fishing you want to do, then you can get the appropriate gear. Beach fishing is probably easiest in terms of startup gear and skill. Beach coho season is winding down now, but we'll have winter blackmouth (resident chinook) soon. Good luck!

Michele said...

I made this last night and it was tasty. I made a guess of a 1/4 CUP of chopped kalamata olives and the finished product seemed about right. Thanks for a great blog!