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Calling all salmon lovers - king or sockeye?

I live in Alaska (where it all comes from) so I have a fair bit of experience with the different species. It really is a matter of taste. For most purposes my preference is always for King, especially if you can get a winter or spring fish. They are the richest tasting by far. Later in the season they start to use up some of their stored reserve fat in their migration, so they are a bit leaner. Still, King is always the richest fish.

Coho and sockeye are leaner than King. That means that if you aren't careful, you can dry them out during cooking. The biggest sin is an overcooked piece of salmon.

For smoking, I always prefer King because of the higher oil content. Coho and sockeye are too dry for my taste.

I have two important cooking tips. (1) Test doneness with a fork. When the fish barely flakes apart but is still just a little bit translucent in the middle, it is done. Don't let it go all the way to fully opaque, which tends to mean the fish is dried out. You can tell when the fish is approaching done if you see a white "juice" starting to accumulate on top of the filet. (2) On the grill (my favorite preparation method for any salmon) season with salt and pepper. Cook with the skin side down and the cover on. DO NOT FLIP THE FISH! When the fork test shows done, slide a long spatula between fish and skin to carefully peel the fish up from the skin. Voila! Perfectly skinned salmon filet ready for the plate.

Mar 22, 2013
paulgrant in General Topics

Dutch Oven vs. Slow Cooker

Dutch Oven, hands down. You can do anything in a Dutch oven that you can do in a crock pot, plus a lot more. You can brown, fry, steam, and use it on the stove top. If you want to slow cook, use any crock pot recipe, put the DO in your regular oven at 220 deg when you leave for work. Your slow-cooked meal will be perfectly done when you get home. You may have to experiment a bit to learn the temp at which your oven actually cooks on various settings, but it really is a no-brainer. I've gone through a couple of phases of thinking I needed a crock pot, and every time I get rid of it because it simply has no advantages over the DO and it takes up a lot of room in the kitchen.

Sep 07, 2012
paulgrant in Features

How to Cook Wild-Killed Venison

I usually cook 1-2 Sitka blacktail deer per year so I have a good sense of what it takes to make it tasty. I have four rules: (1) Minimal cooking on high heat (2) Grilling on an outdoor BBQ is by far the best (3) When in doubt, see rules (1) and (2) and (4) If stewing, plan on a full-day slow cook.

Generally I find stewing less satisfactory because of the lack of fat in the meat. It does come out dry no matter how you slice it. When I butcher the deer I debone it completely and wrap the major muscle groups for steaks/roasts for BBQ. I take all the scrap to a local sausage maker where I get burger and mild or hot Italian sausage made. It is imperative to mix in a healthy amount of pork fat - I usually ask for 25% pork meat, which seems to translate to the right total amount of fat in the sausage. Venison Italian sausage is a treat not to miss.

Jan 24, 2012
paulgrant in Features

best or favourite market in the world?

I have two. Here in the US, while provisioning for a boat trip, I found the West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio. Tremendous selection of everything ethnic and everything fresh. Plus, all housed in a stunning retro building that is worth the visit even if you aren't hungry.

For sheer fun, you can't beat the central Mercado in Guadalajara, Mexico. Just off the main cathedral square, it is HUGE - and contains everything from blue agave to blue jeans. There are food stalls serving the best birria, menudo, various roasted meats and fowls, along with all the trimmings. The entire head of the animal is proudly displayed along side the choice cuts in the meat stalls. Loved it!

Aug 01, 2011
paulgrant in General Topics

Basic Napa Cabbage Kimchi (Kimchee)

I have used the method of filling a zip loc with water and using that as the lid. It fits down inside the jar, keeping the whole thing tidy, but lets the fermentation bubbles out.

This recipe is killer, by the way. I have made it many times (although a bit simpler - leaving out the shrimp, etc.) and it comes out SOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD!

Jun 24, 2011
paulgrant in Recipes

Pickle Juice

Pickled eggs! It takes about a week for boiled and peeled eggs to get a nice firm texture after putting them in da joos.

Sep 10, 2010
paulgrant in Home Cooking