Jeanette - Off The Cuff

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Blogger at: and -- My name is Jeanette, and I was born in Sweden, but unlike the famous Muppet, I am not a professional Swedish Chef. I actually studied design and photography. I also was a freelance indie-rock critic for several magazines from 1998-2005, and had an in-house PR company for a while. Cooking is in my DNA--my dad's brother was a chef and their father was a pastry chef, my mom's mother was a caterer, who published a cookbook of traditional Finnish breads and pastries when she was 92. Everyone else in my family loves to cook, and we're not afraid to experiment. I have a yen for interior design and remodeling.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pistachio Cedar Planked Salmon, and Salmon Leek Chowder

Here are two easy and salmon recipes I made yesterday and today, all from one four-pound $20 whole salmon. If you can learn to fillet and debone your own fish, you can save so much money on seafood dishes. So here is Pistachio Crusted Cedar-Plank Salmon, and Salmon Leek Chowder.

We had 10 people over for Mother's Day Dinner, and prepared a whole salmon so we could cedar-plank the fillets and added chopped green onion and pistachio crust topping prior to grilling.  For a topping, I also made my Basil-Yogurt topping, but this time I used actual sour cream and lime juice, instead of lemon. I made some minor alterations to it, just because of what I had on hand.

Anyway, when we filleted the salmon, I set the tail, spine & other random scraps in a big ziplock bag back in the fridge, intending to make soup from it today. The chowder was completely "off the cuff" and I made it for lunch and I only took a few photos, and can't remember exactly what went into it, but I will say that it was really good! My husband raved about it being so fancy for a Monday lunch.

3/4 - 1 lb of salmon (depending on if you are using the starting point of bone scraps like I did, or using just a frozen fillet, or even canned salmon, you'll have to tinker with your cooking method a bit.)
1 Leek, washed, and cut lengthwise, and then sliced into half-moons
2-3 medium potatoes, such as red or Yukon Gold, peeled and cubed
Ground White Pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3-4 basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 lime, or 1/4 lemon, juiced

The first step was that I boiled 6-8 cups of (filtered, because I have an aversion to chlorinated) water in a big stock pot, and popped the salmon bones & fins in the water. I added about 2 tsp of sea salt, and 1 tsp of ground white pepper. I let this simmer on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. These remnant pieces are not very thick and the fish cooks very fast. I pulled out all the big pieces and set them on a plate and used the tines of a fork to flake off the meat from the bones and tail. Inspect it all carefully for stray bones. I was very cautious and still ended up finding a few bones in my soup later when I ate it.

Yeah, I know, it looks grotesque, but makes a good seafood broth!

Once you've gotten all the meat off (and we also happened to have one left over piece of fillet from the night before) set it aside for a little bit. Add the bones and scraps back into the pot of water, and keep simmering it for another 15 or 20 minutes. Strain it all out through a sieve, into a clean pot, and add 2-3 peeled and cubed potatoes, and one whole leek, sliced into chunks.

Just a few taters, and a leek... you could add other veggies too.
Return this strained broth with vegetables to the burner, and simmer on medium-low, until potatoes are tender.

Check out how much salmon came off the spine & tail!
Add salmon pieces, and allow to heat up for just a minute.

Reduce heat on burner, and wait until simmering nearly stops, and slowly stir in cream, sour cream, lime juice, and minced basil. (As you can probably deduce, I added the remaining basil-sour cream topping from the previous day's dinner to incorporate that brightness and tanginess to my chowder.)

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