Experimentation of Taste

A food blog that catalogs discovery of foods available through CSA Farms Shares and other arenas and the recipes to enhance the flavors.

9.29.2006

Weekend Cookbook challenge: “The Northwest Essentials Cookbook"


Tabblo: Weekend Cookbook Challenge #9: Northwest Ingredients

Sara at I Like to Cook recently had herWeekend Cookbook Challenge mentioned in a major newspaper about blogging events. The article specifically mentioned this wonderful adventure in cookbook exploration. I envy those with loads and loads of cookbooks since my collection is limited to what fits neatly above the stove. If that space ever got overcrowded I don’t know what I would do with the surplus. Therefore, I dutifully review what has been accumulating and decid what to keep. My older books are tried and true, so mainly I decide about recent additions. My dilemma continues as magazines seem to be multiplying like rabbits up there. At least it provides fodder for the cookbook challenge!

A friend gave me Greg Atkinson’s Northwest Essentials cookbook for my birthday soon after I moved to the Pacific Northwest from the Deep South. It collected dust for two years until a sale on salmon filets kindled some interest in cooking fish. The filets were a real head scratcher since my interest wasn’t backed by any know-how. My lack of experience about fish goes way back. Dad’s idea of fish is Gorton’s fish sticks. In fact his doctor tells him to eat fish and he hates it. The fish turned out to be a good idea and this cookbook saved the meal.

I like the simple-to-follow instructions and details given about each featured Northwest treat. Atkinson wrote chapters about: Apples & Pears, Salmon, Stone Fruits, Herbs, Oysters, Prawns & Crab, Wild Mushrooms, Berries, Mussels, Clams & Scallops, Other Fish in the Sea, Lentils, Split Peas & Chickpeas, and lastly Hazelnuts. He describes the history or nostalgia associated with each item and why each is specifically associated with the region.

I have really enjoyed this delightfully uncomplicated salmon recipe. It fit my budget and schedule well.

Buying Salmon: The quality and price of the salmon will depend on its origin and how it was caught. Wild‑caughtCopper River Salmon tends to be the most expensive and high‑quality whereas farm‑raised Atlantic Salmon is much cheaper. The biggest difference between the types
is the potential health risk and environmental concerns about aquaculture. I personally don’t notice a difference in the quality of fish. If you are inexperienced at prepping your fish, ask your store’s meat department to filet it for you. The waste fish parts (head, etc) can be used to make a nice stock or for crab bait.

Cooking methods: King salmon cooks well on the BBQ. All salmon do well in the broiler, especially silvers that which tend to dry out on the BBQ. Baked salmon is moist and flavorful without much effort. A classy parchment paper parcel can steam themselves effortlessly for entertaining. Poached salmon creates its own sauce and adds flavor. Alder-plank-smoked salmon has layers of flavor and is a Northwest tradition.

Flavor Companions: Blackberries, Citrus, Sorrel, Tarragon, Watercress, Dill and other favorite herbs

Perfect Oven-Broiled Salmon

Serves 4
Prep 5 min
Total Time 15 min

  • 1 side of salmon (about 2 lbs) or 4 8 oz fillets.(Any size has worked for me) skin on
  • 2 T of vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and Pepper
  • Blackberry Butter Sauce or Three Citrus Butter (I have included the Blackberry)


    1. Set up the oven racks so that the salmon will be as close to 6 in (no less) from the heating element and set your broiler to preheat (If your broiler gives you a choice use the high setting.)
    2. Prep the broiler pan with foil on the bottom and spray the top with oil. Brush or Spray the salmon with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    3. Place salmon in the oven for 5 minutes. Turn off and leave the fish in the oven for another 5 min without opening the door. They should be cooked to perfection if they are of average thickness.


    Blackberry Butter Sauce

    Serves 6 or a few more

  • ½ c blackberries or similar berry
  • Juice of 1 lemon, about 3T
  • 2 T sugar
  • ¼ c white wine or grape juice with a splash of vinegar
  • 1 t crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1 inch chunks


    1. Puree the blackberries with the lemon juice, sugar,wine, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender or in the pot with an immersion blender. Strain if you don’t like seeds.
    2. Boil rapidly over high heat until puree is reduced to ¼ cup.
    3. Quickly stir in butter. Do not return to a boil.
    4. Serve immediately over fish
    5. Can be kept in the fridge for up to a year.

    I served this with locally grown edible flower salad mix and sweet corn from my CSA.And here is the rest of it.

    3 Comments:

    Blogger Sara said...

    Your pictures are lovely, and the blackberry sauce sounds wonderful!

    9/29/2006 9:20 AM  
    Anonymous michelle said...

    We did do a salmon similar dish! *laugh*

    Both blackberries and hazelnuts are so very NW as well.

    I am very intrigued by your blackberry sauce...I think I will have to try that next time I make salmon! I can even see that on grilled chicken or on a pork tenderloin! :)

    10/01/2006 4:11 PM  
    Anonymous veuveclicquot said...

    blackberry sauce - that's super original! I would have never thought to pair it up with something savory. :)

    10/21/2006 8:23 AM  

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