Cook: Get in the swim with tasty salmon

“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a quirky, delightful film about a sheik who romanticizes salmon fishing and will go to any lengths to make it a sport in his emirate. Must be something very charismatic, not to mention delicious, about this rosy, pink-fleshed fish that loves to swim upstream.

How lucky we are to have salmon available almost all the time, and now is perfect to enjoy salmon season in the Northwest. Salmon steaks or fillets are just the answer for a light, easy-to-prepare meal, especially when this ocean favorite is poached.

Nothing could be simpler for the busy cook. Just simmer 1-inch-thick salmon steaks in a tasty fish stock (recipe below) for 8 minutes. Make sure the stock covers the fish completely. The important thing to remember is that the stock must never boil or else the fish will fall apart. Let the salmon cool in the liquid for at least 6 hours or overnight in the fridge. This keeps the salmon moist and extremely flavorful. Remove skin and bones before serving.

Poached salmon is perfect as a do-ahead main dish for many spring and summer occasions, such as a Shabbat kiddush, bridal shower, birthday brunch or bar/bat mitzvah luncheon. Made the day before and refrigerated, cold salmon is a welcome offering and great to have on hand for those last-minute unexpected weekend guests.

Offer one or two of the sauces below to accompany the salmon, along with a potato or pasta salad to complete the meal.


Fish Stock (Poaching Liquid)

Makes about 3 quarts

1 onion, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

6 parsley sprigs

2 celery stalks with leaves

1 bay leaf

1 cup dry white wine

1 small lemon, sliced

3 quarts water

In a large stock pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Let cool and strain. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 3 days. Otherwise stock should be frozen.


Mustard Dill Sauce

Makes 1 cup

1⁄2 cup mayonnaise

1⁄2 cup plain yogurt

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard (or to taste)

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1⁄4 cup chopped fresh dill

salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients until well blended.


Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce

Makes about 11⁄2 cups

1⁄2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained

2 cloves garlic

1⁄2 cup fresh parsley

1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano

1⁄3 cup olive oil

1⁄2 cup sour cream or yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine tomatoes, garlic, parsley, oregano and olive oil until a rough paste is formed. Remove to a bowl and stir in sour cream. Taste for salt and pepper.


Spinach Cucumber Sauce

Makes about 11⁄2 cups

1⁄4 cup cooked spinach, excess water squeezed out

3 green onions, trimmed

1 tsp. fresh tarragon or 1⁄2 tsp. dried

1⁄3 cup pine nuts

1⁄2 cup mayonnaise

1⁄3 cup yogurt

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, chop spinach, onions, tarragon and pine nuts until fairly smooth. Add mayonnaise and yogurt and process just until blended. Remove to a bowl and stir in cucumber. Taste for salt and pepper.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].