Of all the food from the Pacific Ocean, fresh salmon is among the most exalted. These hefty relatives of the trout lead amazing lives, beginning as small fry, if you will, in the upper reaches of rivers and streams that feed into the oceans.
After about 1-3 years of feeding and growing near the place of their birth, the young fish group together and head downstream for the open seas where they spend their adult years. When their biological clocks give them the signal, they begin an amazing and strenuous migration upstream, back to the exact place of their birth. Here they spawn and die within days, thereby completing their circle of life.
Plentiful wild salmon are one of the bonuses of living here, and it, along with Dungeness Crab, are leaders of a long list of foods associated with Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
There’s alder smoked salmon, poached salmon, salmon jerky, salmon mousse. It’s grilled, fried, cured, smoked, patted into cakes like crab, but most of all – it’s just loved.
The smoked salmon enjoyed most often in our region is hot smoked as opposed to cold smoked, which has a more delicate flavor and softer texture. Hot smoked salmon begins with an aromatic rub and is then smoked over hot coals, usually with alder wood.
Most regions of the US have traditional party dips:- In Texas we enjoyed guacamole and a wonderful hot dip made from Ro-Tel Tomatoes and Chiles mixed into melted Velveeta (you read right….Velveeta … and it’s addictive). In Maryland it was, of course, Maryland Crab Dip. So it seems perfectly natural that our wild salmon would end up as the main ingredient in a Pacific Northwest party dip.
I’ve enjoyed quite a few salmon dips since moving to Oregon, and Linda Weiner Petrin’s is the one I love the most and she is generous with her recipe.
Hubby Brad Petrin fishes the salmon from the Columbia River, smokes it to perfection, then Linda takes over and performs her magic.
Linda’s Smoked Salmon Dip
While the smoked salmon flavor permeates the other ingredients intensely, don’t expect the look of the finished dip to bear any resemblance to the actual salmon. The color of smoked salmon can range from the expected rosy hue all the way to brown, and that will have an effect on the final appearance. Alder wood smoked salmon is very easy to locate here in the Pacific Northwest. If I can’t beg, borrow or steal some wild, line-caught and home-smoked from Linda or Brad, I often use commercially smoked salmon from Tony’s Smokehouse and Cannery in Oregon City. Most local supermarkets stock it vacuum-sealed in the seafood department.
- 16 oz. cream cheese (whipped cream cheese is easier to work with.)
- 1 cup green onion, finely chopped
- ½ small white onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup mayo
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 package Ranch Dip
- ½ cup smoked salmon, flaked
- Garlic salt (check the saltiness of the smoked salmon before adding this. If salmon is quite salty, use garlic powder instead.)
- Pepper, to taste
- Pinch of sugar
- Allow cream cheese to soften to room temperature.
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together thoroughly. (I find a hand mixer makes this a breeze.)
- If you have leftover salmon, use to garnish the top.
Serve with crackers or toasted bread of your choice. I like Rye Crisp or any cracker with rye in it which complements the salmon flavor.
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