Thursday, February 14, 2013

salmon head; oyster stew

Lent's off to a pretty good start so far.

At Battambang in Little Cambodia, salmon is $5.99 a pound. Salmon heads are $1.99 a pound. Granted: there's less meat on a salmon head. But what you get is pretty great, and certainly worth the price.

Salmon head

This is the salmon head picked apart, after simmering and cooling enough to handle. Clockwise:

Right at the top is a bit of salmon marrow - nice and clean and rich.

Next, salmon meat - mostly cheek (the nuggets that look like chicken oysters) and jaw.

Salmon eyes - I'm going to save them in the freezer until I have an appreciable amount later in the month.

Salmon skin with tons of fat.

Salmon bones and cartilage.

The bones and cartilage went back in the simmering pot for an hour with a couple cloves of garlic, and became a salmon stock gelatinous enough to turn solid in the fridge.

The meat, marrow, and skin I crisped up in a pan for dinner last night, in a roll with some sliced Vidalia onion, Tony Chachere's, and melted cheddar cheese - sort of a salmon melt.

That salmon stock? That was the backbone for oyster stew:

Oyster stew

Sure, it's not pretty. There's black sesame paste in there as a thickener. But it's tasty stuff.

I sliced up more Vidalia onion and cooked that in a little sesame oil (the sesame oil floating on top of the jar of black sesame paste, in fact) until it started to turn golden, during which time I blended a few spoonfuls of sesame paste with the salmon stock. Added the sesame-stock combo to the pan, heated it up, added fish sauce and soy sauce until it tasted salty enough, and then added chopped blanched collard greens and half a pound of raw shucked oysters.

From that point, you just need to heat it through.  Three or four minutes until it comes back up to a simmer.

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