Our Pacific Northwest is blessed with so much that it’s easy to take it all for granted. Even without leaving Salem, I am being flashed by the Cascades with Mt. Hood, Jefferson, Adams and sometimes Mt. St. Helens. A drive through Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties reveals abundant cultivated crops, including fruits, hazelnuts, vineyards, cut flowers, Christmas trees and nursery stock. I think blackberries were born in Oregon — they grow wild almost everywhere you look in the valley. Visit any grocer and the evidence is in the produce section, seafood, canned goods and frozen foods.
The natural beauty is as good as it gets. We enjoy a moderate climate on the coastal side, not too hot and not too cold, albeit a tad moist for much of our year. Our very rich soil enables us to feed ourselves in an abundant and luxurious style with plenty of leftovers to share with the rest of the world.
Among our edible gifts of providence is the Pacific Northwest Salmon. It is food fit for the gods. Rich in flavor and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, minerals and vitamins, it is often recommended for consumption twice a week.
This noble fish leads an extraordinary life, beginning in our rivers and streams then migrating to the Pacific Ocean, where it lives out its adult life before beginning its exodus from the salty sea to return to its birthplace for mating and spawning.
Strawberries and cream! Peanut butter and jelly! Ham and eggs! Biscuits and gravy! Wine and cheese! A pairing list could go on practically ad infinitum. There are things, especially in the food realm, that have such a natural affinity for each other that it’s often difficult to separate them. And thus it is with salmon and dill!
No matter how you prepare your salmon, if you’ve got dill among your list of ingredients, the two will embrace each other and relegate the other players to important but supporting roles.
The pairing of salmon and dill is a gift from our Scandinavian immigrants. The native Indians were partial to pairing their salmon with our indigenous berries. Stay tuned — I will be visiting that pairing very soon with a show-stopping recipe.
Roasted Buttermilk and Dill Marinated Salmon
- 1 1-pound fillet of salmon
- ¾ cup buttermilk (If you can find Bulgarian style – use it. It is to regular buttermilk as Greek yogurt is to regular yogurt – thicker.)
- 1 liberal teaspoon Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute or any seasoning blend of your choice. Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute has no salt, so be mindful of any salt content in your choice.
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill plus more for garnish
- 2-3 whole scallions, minced
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400° F
- Mix together ingredients 2-8 and add to salmon in a seal-able bag for up to 30 minutes.
- Roast in a 400 °F oven until temperature in salmon reads 120°. Don’t overcook.
The hearty watercress and fingerling potato salad you see in the photo was inspired by what I saw in the produce section that day – perky watercress still on life support with its roots cradled in little containers of water and some irresistible baby fingerling potatoes and an even more irresistible price. The potatoes were boiled/steamed until tender then plunged into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking. I made some a vinaigrette du jour to anoint them and then garnished with chives, minced red bell pepper and grated hard-cooked egg. A tarragon-flavored vinaigrette would be good here. Here’s a suggested list of ingredients from epicurious.com.
- 4 teaspoons Sherry vinegar (If you want to go “Bam” like Emeril, use tarragon white wine vinegar instead of sherry.)
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
Shake all ingredients together and dribble away on your salad.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities