Salmon with Ginger Marmalade

Salmon with Ginger Marmalade

About thirty years ago, Jerri and I decided to treat my mother and father to a fishing charter on Lake Superior.  Since they both loved to fish, I was surprised when they refused the offer.  Dad explained that since he had broken his leg the year before, he wasn’t as steady as he once was.  Thinking on my feet, I told him that we could rent a wheelchair for him. He huffed like an old buck, “Humph, I don’t need a wheelchair.”

I closed the sale. “So you’ll come, right?”

Mom’s excuse was even less persuasive than Dad’s.  “Why don’t you take Patrick in my place? Lake Superior is so big that I wouldn’t know how to fish it.  Besides, I like to fish from shore,” she added.  

“Mom, it’s a charter.  It’s a thirty-foot boat with a sonar fish finder. The captain sets up the rods, takes us out on Chequamegon Bay until he finds a school of fish then trolls the baits.  We take turns reeling in the fish.  Come on,” I pleaded.  She turned out to be a pushover.  We had snagged our two anglers.

When I called Captain Dave to reserve a date, he told me that his boat had room for six people at no extra cost.  We invited my brother-in-law and sister to join us and confirmed the date with Dave.  Three weeks later our Captain met us at the dock in Washburn, Wisconsin.  It was a beautiful morning with a light breeze and puffy clouds. 

After a short pause, Mom walked up the gangway and watched Dad follow her onto the deck. They sat down and leaned back against the railing.  Dave warmed up the engine and I cast off the bow line when he gave the order.  We were under way.  The wind became a little stronger as we moved out of the harbor and there was a light chop on the water.  A perfect day for fishing, I thought, until I realized that Mom did not look very happy.

Before I embarked for Germany as a graduate student in 1965 on the SS Berlin, I had researched seasickness.  I learned three useful facts.  First, seasickness was known to the ancient Greeks, who gave us the word “nausea” from their word for ship (naus) to describe the symptoms.  Second, seasickness is caused by actual or perceived motion.  And third, stay on deck and study the horizon if you feel seasick.

I can testify that some people suffer from seasickness without venturing far on the water.  They think that when they are in a boat, it is moving, and that makes them feel nauseous.  I saw this first hand when I boarded the Berlin in New York City. A woman was vomiting on the deck of the ship still securely docked at the pier.  

Mom’s case was different.  We were several miles from the dock and getting farther away every minute.“Mom,” I said, “are you okay?”

“Probably something I ate,” she answered.

“I think you might be seasick,” I told her, and suggested that she might feel better if she walked on the deck and looked at the scenery.  Her solution was was to go into the cabin and look out the windows.  When I checked a few minutes later, she said that she felt better, so I told Dave we could continue our trip.

When Captain Dave reached the area where he expected to find salmon, he slowed the boat, rigged the rods and watched the sonar screen.  In a few minutes  a fish hit one of the lures, and as the senior member of the team, Dad landed his salmon.  A few minutes later another rod bowed, and I opened the door to the cabin to find Mom looking worse than she had an hour earlier.  “Mom, there’s a fish on your rod.  You have to land it.”

She did not look like the excited mother I remembered when she got a six-inch panfish on her casting rod.  “I don’t feel very well, so you just do it for me,” she replied.

“I can’t,” I lied to her, “it’s a rule.  It’s rod number two and you are number two.”

She climbed the the steps carefully and gingerly took the rod Dave handed her, but when the salmon jumped out of the water, her fishing instinct took over.  The whole boat trembled as she shook with excitement.  We have a photograph of Mom and her salmon. She has a big smile, proof that catching a salmon can cure seasickness.


That fishing trip was long after I ate my first serving of salmon when I was just a toddler.  That salmon would have come out of a can, been mixed with onions, crackers and egg and baked into a loaf by my mother.  I am pretty sure that I first had fresh salmon was when I was in college.  Today, I love salmon whether it’s baked into loaves, made into soup, grilled over charcoal or fried with this marinade.


About 1 lb. salmon filets

2 large or three medium cloves garlic

2 T olive oil, divided

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup ginger marmalade

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. liquid smoke flavoring


Make the marinade first.  Remove the paper from the garlic cloves and mince them.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, one tablespoon olive oil, soy sauce, marmalade, mustard, red pepper flakes and smoke flavoring

If necessary, remove the skin from the salmon.  Put three or four serving-size filets in a sealable plastic bag.  Add half of the marinade, seal the bag and massage the filets until all of them are coated with the marinade.  Put the bag in the refrigerator and let the filets marinate for about an hour.

When you are ready to cook the salmon, coat a non-stick skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Put the filets in the skillet and sauté them for two to four minutes.  Turn the filets and cook them for another two to three minutes.  Test for doneness after two minutes.  If the fish flakes, the salmon is done.

Remove the filets from the pan and tent them in a warm serving dish.  Add the reserved marinade (not the marinade in the bag) to the skillet, raise the heat and reduce the volume by half to create the sauce.  Place the filets on plates and spoon sauce over them.  

Serve with a good Chardonnay or Viognier.  If you don’t have either of these wines on hand, you could substitute a Sauvignon blanc.

Serve with simple side dishes that won’t distract from the flavor of the salmon.  White rice and green beans or asparagus sautéed in a little olive oil and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper are good choices.

NOTES:  Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc+Viognier is a wonderful domestic wine blend to serve with this salmon.  Panilonco Chardonnay Viognier is a good Chilean blend that pairs well also.

Mary’s Broiled Salmon With Marmalade

I have often thought of myself as being basically conservative. For instance, I believe that Christ was right when he said that the second great commandment was, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself….” He said it 2,000 years ago, but it’s still a good idea. As you can see, I like reading it in the King James translation, which is a bit over 400 years old. Old ideas, old words, old spellings.

I like comfortable old shoes, well-patched work pants and books written long enough ago to prove that they are worth remembering. I enjoy trout fishing and books about the sport. One of my favorites is The Treatise of Fishing with an Angle. The book is over 500 years old and was probably written by a woman, Dame Juliana Berners. It is the oldest known book about fishing published in English and still has some good tips for a trout fisherman. More evidence of my conservative bent.

I am also a conservative when it comes to barbers. Phyllis Jackelen cut my hair for over twenty years. We became friends, exchanged Christmas gifts and enjoyed our time together every month. After Phyllis died I had to find a replacement. It has been only ten months, but I think that Sue Johnson will be Phyllis’ permanent replacement. She does a good job with my thinning hair and likes to cook.

When I asked if she had any favorite recipes that she might consider sharing, she told me about one she got from a friend who lives in Woodbury, Minnesota. Mary Stromen gave it to her nearly ten years ago. A ten-year-old recipe is one that a conservative can use without feeling too liberal, and since Mary is the sister of Karen Pape, our neighbor of more than forty years, the recipe has an even more respectable pedigree.

Dame Juliana has some advice for salmon fishing if you want to catch your own fish, but you can buy some nice skinless filets quite reasonably and turn out a delicious and nutritious entrée in just a few minutes by following the recipe that Sue shared with me. Here is what you do.


1/2 cup orange marmalade           
1 T Dijon mustard   
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
1/8 tsp. ground ginger  
4 (6 oz.) skinless salmon filets      


For best results, remove the filets from the refrigerator fifteen or twenty minutes before cooking them. If you are in a hurry and don’t have time to let the filets come to room temperature, just add an extra minute to the cooking times and be sure to check that the fish is done.

Preheat the broiler and arrange the top rack in the oven about six inches below the broiler. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and coat it with cooking spray.

Stir the spices into the marmalade in a small bowl. Make sure that the spices are thoroughly mixed with the marmalade.

Place the filets in the pan and brush half of the marmalade mixture over the fish. Broil for about six minutes, turn the filets and brush them with the remaining marmalade mixture. Broil for another two minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.    

Serve with rice and a green vegetable or salad.