Phil's International Flair

Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!

Our trip to Alaska was quite a success. As fate would have it, my daughter Julia caught a larger fish than me, a beautiful 62.5 lb. king salmon! What's up with that anyway? It was the largest salmon I have ever seen, caught on July 4, 2002 in the Kenai

River.

Not long after Julia caught her fish, Rich caught one of similar size. Both fish were about 52 inches in length and nearly 30 inches in girth. Both fish were male.
We also went halibut fishing, and although we didn't get any large halibut, we did get limits of 2 each to yield over 80 lbs. of fillets that we brought home. Most of the halibut were in the 20 lb. range. Many people have told me that the large halibut are not good table fare as the meat tends to be stringy and dry. So, it may take a creative cook to prepare the dinner from a large halibut. Halibut tacos perhaps?
During our stay, we lodged in Mark Glassmaker's cabin on the Kenai River. Our timing for the sockeye salmon was excellent, and this year was a banner run for the sockeye. Literally thousands of sockeye were swimming by every day during our stay. They were jumping everywhere and we took advantage of the situation.
It took some of the guys a little while to catch on with the fishing technique, however when they did, limits of 3 sockeye per day were the rule.
Even I caught one!

I would like to spend a few minutes of your time to tell you about the sockeye salmon in Alaska. The sockeye is considered the best eating salmon in Alaska. Once you try it, you will know why. The flesh is a deep red and very rich in flavor. Sockeye feed on plankton and are not as as oily as the king or silver salmon that feeds on other fish and squid. Sockeye are far more numberous than king salmon, but not nearly as large, averaging about 8 to 10 lbs. in the Kenai River. Kings in the Kenai average about 40 lbs. The Kenai River is known the world round for having the largest salmon on the planet, the largest being caught on rod and reel being over 97 lbs.

Sockeye can be prepared in any manner that you might cook other salmon. It's great for fish and chips, and particularly good on the BBQ or served teriyaki style. It also dries well for salmon jerky.

The Alaskans are allowed to dip net for sockeye every year, keeping 25 for head of household and 10 additional fish for each additional member of household. If you visit a beach near a river or an access point on the river during dipnet season when the sockeye are running, you will witness people gathering their winters supply of food.

Unfortunately, with the influx of farmed Atlantic Salmon in the marketplace, the market for wild fresh Alaskan salmon in the US has declined substantially. The market is so bad, in fact, that many commercial fishermen in Alaska have given up their business to pursue other means of income. Last week, one person told me that the commercial fishermen were selling sockeye salmon wholesale for $.50 per lb. I find that hard to believe, but with the large number of fish this year, it could be true. Supply and demand. I know that last year the wholesale price was about $1.65 per lb., varying throughout the season, plus or minus 15 cents.

Most of the wild salmon caught in Alaska find their way to the Japanese market where they will pay a premium price for the higher quality of fish. Many people and businesses in the lower 48 will pay a premium price for prime grade cuts of beef. Why not for salmon? I don't order salmon or other fish in a restaurant unless I know where it comes from. I guess that's one reason I like to catch my own fish.

I compare the color of the fish I catch in Alaska with the farmed salmon that I see in the market and there is no comparison. The farmed fish is pale in contrast to the deep color of wild Alaskan product. In fact, even wild king salmon in California hold no comparison to the fish caught in Alaska. Compare the color of these fillets to the salmon you may purchase at the local market. This photo is not retouched and the color rendition is very accurate.

The state of Alaska has been trying desperately to save the commercial fishing industry and has been trying to promote new markets for wild Alaskan salmon. Unfortunately, farmed salmon has put a glut on the market, and most people seem to be willing to accept a lower quality product. If farmed salmon were not fed chemicals derived from crab extract, the flesh would be white because they do not have a natural diet. Which salmon do you prefer? Would you pay a little extra for wild salmon over farm raised salmon? I would be interested to hear your opinions.

The recipe presented this month is from my yet to be published cookbook. Feel free to send your comments, questions and requests.

Now, on to the recipe!

French Potatoes

One evening during our stay at Mark's cabin, we decided to have a BBQ. I had brought some of my BBQ sauce and Ron bought some baby back ribs for the grill. Having brought some oak bark with me for smoking, I smoked the ribs for about 2 hours before grilling them with my sauce. They were good!

Ron, who was born in France, took over the kitchen, while I manned the BBQ. Ron made these potatoes that were absolutely the best! I had to have extra helpings of these potatoes they were so good. This is a simple and easy recipe that suits any occasion. Sorry, I didn't get a picture of the dish as I was too busy at the BBQ!

  • 6 lbs. potatoes, cut into quarters lengthwise and then halved
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced

Boil the potatoes until done, approximately 25 minutes. Pierce with a fork to make sure that they are cooked through. Drain, and while still hot, add the butter, garlic and chopped parsley. Mix well with a wooden spoon and serve hot. Enjoy!

And, thanks to Ron Dunaway for the recipe.

  • Yields: 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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