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.

INGREDIENTS:

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      

PROCEDURE:

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.

                                                                       

Assi’s Fish Soup

A few week’s ago we finally visited Assi and her family in Helsinki, Finland. Assi was a Rotary Exchange Student in 1994 when I was the District Exchange Officer for Finland. Today she and her husband, Pekka, have a two-year-old daughter named Jenna. They work for Tieto, one of the largest IT services companies in Europe, which is headquartered a few miles from their home.

Knowing that I like to eat, Assi made a point of introducing us to Finnish cuisine. She served us Karelian stew, which she had prepared the day we arrived, and introduced me to 8% beer at the Suomenlinna, the fortress built on six islands at the mouth of the South Harbor in Helsinki. After our tour of the fortress we met Assi’s parents at the Fish Market where we enjoyed a delicious salmon soup.

Like many midwesterners I had a bias against fish soup. I don’t really know why, since I like clam and seafood chowders, which are really just thickened soups. Maybe it was my father’s story about working one day at a neighboring farm where they had fish soup for dinner. “They were Swedes, and they ate stuff like that,” he told me, adding that there were fish heads in the soup pot. It would be an understatement to say that it was “not his favorite.”

Assi and her parents told us that the salmon soup at the market was delicious, and so we all had styrofoam bowls filled with a rich soup. We ate it while sitting under a canopy and watched the ferries, fishmongers and their customers along the pier. It was a wonderful lunch, and I asked Assi later if she had a recipe for salmon soup.

She emailed me her family’s recipe for fish soup, which I converted to English measurements. Here is Assi’s introduction to the recipe:

“I will share our family recipe of a fish soup. You can use any kind of fish, also leave out cream as we quite often do when eating this at home.”

When I asked what kind of fish she used, she said that they used whatever they caught including pike (walleye), northern pike and bass from any of the freshwater lakes in southern Finland plus saltwater fish that they caught from the Baltic. I used some pieces of bony bass saved from one of Jerri’s catches from this summer plus a half pound of wild salmon fillets.

INGREDIENTS:

2 or 3 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
2 1/2 cups water
4 – 8 whole allspice
4 – 8 black peppercorns
1 lb. fish (fillet or with bones)
1 scant cup of whipping cream
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T fresh dill
Butter to taste

PROCEDURE:

Following Assi’s instructions, I first brought the bony pieces of bass to a boil in about two and a half cups of water in a covered saucepan and simmered them slowly for about twenty-five minutes. If you don’t have any bony pieces of fish, use fish stock and water. We didn’t have a pound of fish with the bony pieces, so I used two small salmon fillets to bring the amount of meat to a pound.

While the bony fish is simmering, peel the potatoes and clean the onion. Chop the potato into bite-sized pieces and the onion into a quarter inch dice. Cut the fish fillets into half or three-quarter-inch pieces. Set these chopped ingredients aside.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pieces of fish from the water and let them cool on a plate for a few minutes. Separate the meat from the bones and set it aside in a small bowl. Be careful to remove all the small bones. Strain the water through a colander lined with cloth and return it to the saucepan.

Put the chopped ingredients and the meat you removed from the bones into the liquid. Add a half teaspoon of salt, the allspice and peppercorns. Cover the pan and bring the soup to a low simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender.

Mince the dill while the soup is simmering and stir it with the cream into the soup. Heat it until it begins to steam. Taste and adjust the seasoning. I like to add a grind of black pepper at this point.

Serve in bowls with a dusting of fresh dill and a pat of butter melting on top.

NOTES: When I asked Assi to look over the recipe a few days ago, she said that they never count the allspice; they use what they think they need for the batch of soup.

Then she wrote, “Also black pepper corns can be used. Sometimes I use just black pepper from my pepper mill because it is close at hand. As you can see, we make the recipe while cooking. :-)” I like the smiley face. Think of it as a reminder that you can adjust the seasoning before serving.

If you don’t have any bony fish to make the stock, you could use Fish Stock Cubes or canned fish stock.

And finally, here is a photo of the bass that provided the bony pieces for my first batch of fish soup. Jerri caught all of them. I was skunked, but I was handling the canoe.