Salmon Prep and Cooking Fillets

#31
I usually only eat salmon that I catch, and usually the same day. I eat Kings and Silvers. Other fish, like cod and halibut I'm not as fussy, but the longer salmon ages, the less tasty it is for me. I wouldn't eat a pink if my life depended on it. Mushy salmon is disgusting. Maybe its the CR salmon I have had, but I was not impressed. Salmon should be firm and flaky when cooked. Baker Lake sockeye are pretty good. Never, and I repeat, NEVER would I consider eating salmon that has been frozen. That shit is cat food.

I grew up fishing Puget Sound for salmon with my dad starting in the early 60's. We went out at least half a dozen times a month, and back in the old days, limits were better and where we could fish was pretty much everywhere. Kings and Silvers. Many a cold winter day produced some nice Blackmouth too . We also had a family friend who owned a charter outfit down at Westport, and we could go for free any time we wanted. Some nice sized Kings were had down there and many limits. I have personally caught a couple dozen over 40 lbs out of Westport, and two were over 50. Those were the days. Now it's somewhat of a joke.

I would imagine that the number of salmon I have caught is up in the thousands. So I am pretty much spoiled when it comes to eating salmon. Good salmon doesn't need to be "doctored up" to taste great. Minimal seasoning, a bit of smoke, and you are good to go.
 

quilbilly

Big Time Hater
#32
Last night we had some sockeye from a buddy of mine in Alaska. He gets them from a tribal Corp fish processor up there and the fillets are called 'Japanese # 1'. Hand selected and all pin bones removed, these are very nice fish, even if flash frozen.
Did it outside on the grill using my rub, and a huckleberry relish I make.

Very nice meal, the relish is a nice addition I stayed doing a few years ago, now I put up a few dozen jars each fall, it's good on waterfowl and game birds also.
 

dld

Active Member
#33
Never, and I repeat, NEVER would I consider eating salmon that has been frozen. That shit is cat food.
Interesting that a whole category of high-end food disagrees with you. Salmon sashimi is pretty much always frozen to kill parasites.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/07/29/raw-fish-around-world

“If done well, as on at-sea freezer boats, this involves using impeccable-quality fish bled and frozen pre-rigor,” explained fish missionary Jon Rowley, whom you met in my column on salmon a few weeks ago. “A frozen fish can actually be better quality than 95 percent of fresh fish because of the time fresh fish is out of water and various handling and temperature conditions. That’s why even in the best sushi bars, much of the fish has been frozen. You couldn’t get fresh fish of the same quality, at least with any consistency.”
 
#34
Interesting that a whole category of high-end food disagrees with you. Salmon sashimi is pretty much always frozen to kill parasites.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/07/29/raw-fish-around-world

“If done well, as on at-sea freezer boats, this involves using impeccable-quality fish bled and frozen pre-rigor,” explained fish missionary Jon Rowley, whom you met in my column on salmon a few weeks ago. “A frozen fish can actually be better quality than 95 percent of fresh fish because of the time fresh fish is out of water and various handling and temperature conditions. That’s why even in the best sushi bars, much of the fish has been frozen. You couldn’t get fresh fish of the same quality, at least with any consistency.”
You can have it. Freezing salmon fucks with both taste and texture. That said, I don't eat fresh salmon that has been out of the water for more than a day.
 

nomlasder

Active Member
#35
My preference is steaming with skin on. Season to taste on plate. Always moist and tender, and only the flavor of the fish. Sometimes a couple cloves of garlic in the water.
 
#36
Cedar planking a filet is good on the grill. Or one of those "fish basket" things, over an open fire when camping, sort of "Indian Style". Another way I like that is fast, down and dirty is a whole fish, wrapped tightly in heavy duty foil, stuffed with some butter, lemon slices, pepper, and some onion, laid on a bed of coals.
 
#37
Nick. What kind of 29’ boat do you have that will do 30 knots? Gotta be twin shaft. A photo would be great. Luhrs?

29' Defiance Guadalupes.

The guy I work for owns 4 of them he keeps at Westport half the year. Funny enough he did buy a 30' Luhrs as part of an established charter outfit him and his wife purchased in Costa Rica this last year. Nice boat.

These Defiance boats are damned impressive. Built here in Wa in Belfair. No frills, just pure fishing boats. We take more trips than anyone out of Westport and we have had these things in some awfully big water with zero issue. Originally the fleet had twin 225 Hondas but Mark has been upgrading them to 250s as they wear out.

On a good day these boats will cruise at 30 knots pretty easily.

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Here's a short vid of me cutting tuna on the run in last year. This was fairly early in the season before I had gotten too fast. Also this is a decent day. Cutting fish when it's sloppy friggen sucks! @Irafly came fishing with us one day this last September. We ended up loading the boat up but very late in the day and the water had kicked up pretty good. I waited a while to see if the water would calm down on our run home before heading back to cut fish. Finally about 40 miles out I went for it. It was so friggen wet back there I had to cut half the fish with my eyes closed cause I couldnt see. Good times! Lol

 

Irafly

Indi "Ira" Jones
#38
29' Defiance Guadalupes.

The guy I work for owns 4 of them he keeps at Westport half the year. Funny enough he did buy a 30' Luhrs as part of an established charter outfit him and his wife purchased in Costa Rica this last year. Nice boat.

These Defiance boats are damned impressive. Built here in Wa in Belfair. No frills, just pure fishing boats. We take more trips than anyone out of Westport and we have had these things in some awfully big water with zero issue. Originally the fleet had twin 225 Hondas but Mark has been upgrading them to 250s as they wear out.

On a good day these boats will cruise at 30 knots pretty easily.

View attachment 157362


Here's a short vid of me cutting tuna on the run in last year. This was fairly early in the season before I had gotten too fast. Also this is a decent day. Cutting fish when it's sloppy friggen sucks! @Irafly came fishing with us one day this last September. We ended up loading the boat up but very late in the day and the water had kicked up pretty good. I waited a while to see if the water would calm down on our run home before heading back to cut fish. Finally about 40 miles out I went for it. It was so friggen wet back there I had to cut half the fish with my eyes closed cause I couldnt see. Good times! Lol

Even so, Nick freakin nailed it! He didn't even lose his knife :) How Nick stood back there, let alone fillet a boat stuffed with tuna, I will never know. I struggled just to sit and not throw up... again.
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
#39
Never, and I repeat, NEVER would I consider eating salmon that has been frozen. That shit is cat food.
That's not a bad generalization, but as with so many things, the difference and distinction can be found in the details. I prefer fresh salmon, and when I'm lucky enough to catch a CR spring Chinook we eat BBQ Chinook every night until it's gone so that I don't have to freeze any of it. That said, I've learned that flash frozen and vacuum packed salmon can be so good that I couldn't tell it had been frozen. As good as flash frozen, I learned on an AK trip is to use a container of shave ice and add heavily salted water. It will take a salmon fillet to near frozen in less than 10 minutes, not much different than flash frozen in case you don't have a flash freezer in your garage or shop. Then just put the near frozen fish in the deep freeze. That ice water bath cools the fish so fast that it avoids messing up the texture of the flesh the way it does when you just put a piece of fish from the fillet table into the deep freeze. Learning about that is what got me more interested in salmon fishing and putting some in the freezer for winter use. Good food!
 
#40
29' Defiance Guadalupes.

The guy I work for owns 4 of them he keeps at Westport half the year. Funny enough he did buy a 30' Luhrs as part of an established charter outfit him and his wife purchased in Costa Rica this last year. Nice boat.

These Defiance boats are damned impressive. Built here in Wa in Belfair. No frills, just pure fishing boats. We take more trips than anyone out of Westport and we have had these things in some awfully big water with zero issue. Originally the fleet had twin 225 Hondas but Mark has been upgrading them to 250s as they wear out.

On a good day these boats will cruise at 30 knots pretty easily.

View attachment 157362


Here's a short vid of me cutting tuna on the run in last year. This was fairly early in the season before I had gotten too fast. Also this is a decent day. Cutting fish when it's sloppy friggen sucks! @Irafly came fishing with us one day this last September. We ended up loading the boat up but very late in the day and the water had kicked up pretty good. I waited a while to see if the water would calm down on our run home before heading back to cut fish. Finally about 40 miles out I went for it. It was so friggen wet back there I had to cut half the fish with my eyes closed cause I couldnt see. Good times! Lol

Nick is a badass! Nice work!
 
#41
I tend to smoke or pickle all of my salmon so I almost always freeze it. I've always read and been told that this will kill off any bacteria as well as something about freezing it allows the flesh to take on a brine better. Not sure if this is true or not but I've never had any complaints.

With my job I have nearly unlimited access to fresh fish. Our family likes to eat fish year round so through the spring and summer at work I periodically keep fish and vacuum seal/freeze for our consumption the rest of the year. Properly cared for and well sealed we eat delicious fish of all sorts year round.

All this talk of fish is making me hungry! Think I'll pull out some lingcod for tomorrows dinner. Ling is my absolute favorite fish to eat.
 

chromie

Active Member
#42
I tend to smoke or pickle all of my salmon so I almost always freeze it. I've always read and been told that this will kill off any bacteria as well as something about freezing it allows the flesh to take on a brine better. Not sure if this is true or not but I've never had any complaints.

With my job I have nearly unlimited access to fresh fish. Our family likes to eat fish year round so through the spring and summer at work I periodically keep fish and vacuum seal/freeze for our consumption the rest of the year. Properly cared for and well sealed we eat delicious fish of all sorts year round.

All this talk of fish is making me hungry! Think I'll pull out some lingcod for tomorrows dinner. Ling is my absolute favorite fish to eat.
I’d imagine you have some good tips and tricks for fish prep and preservation. I’d like to hear them!

Plan on doing a lot of canned and pickled salmon this next fall which I haven’t done in the past
 

Trapper

Author, Writer, Photographer
#43
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Nick. REALLY nice boat. I know what it’s like to work on a boat in rough seas, but wow, that’s impressive.

This was the boat I cooked on since 2012 out of Hoonah, Alaska. Its a 49’ Bayliner. The outfitter sold it and his coastal bear permits this past October. I may look for work on another boat.
 
#44
Nice looking boat Trapper! I bet working on that one up there was a great experience!

I've worked on boats in some capacity for a big part of my life. Spent 4 years working processors in the Bearing Sea, spent 10 years working on subs and aircraft carriers in a Naval Shipyard, spent a summer on a commercial albacore boat out of Westport, and have done two seasons working as a deck hand on these charters. Am hoping to get my captains license real soon.

Working on the water isn't for everyone but I sure love it. We don't fish in anything too nasty if we can avoid it, but there are those days when we get out 60 miles and the weather kicks up. That's never any fun. Plus bar crossings can be unpredictable.

Learning to cut fish on the back of a small boat hauling butt in the ocean was definitely the hardest thing to learn with this current job. I have always been decent with a fillet knife but there's a big difference between cutting my personal fish here and there, and having folks pay me to cut the fish they just paid good money to catch. It was nerve wracking at first!

Now days I enjoy cutting fish. The only thing I dislike is when I get folks who make special requests. I've been asked to cut off and save just about every possible part of a fish. Or being asked to cheek a 15 lb halibut lol. That sort of stuff slows me down and sucks but that's part of the job. What I really had a hard time with though was the time a customer wanted to save the salmon carcasses after I filleted them... no problem at all... Until I turned my back and grabbed my just sharpened fillet knife and started sawing through salmon spines so he could fit the carcasses into a bag. Just about tossed him in the drink for that one!
 
#45
I’d imagine you have some good tips and tricks for fish prep and preservation. I’d like to hear them!

Plan on doing a lot of canned and pickled salmon this next fall which I haven’t done in the past
I'm afraid I don't have any secret methods. IMO the biggest key with fish is getting them bled and on ice ASAP! Proper bleeding is crucial. One thing I see a lot of people do is to get a fish in the boat then beat the ever loving hell out of it with a club before cutting it's gills to bleed. You don't want to kill the fish before bleeding. You want the heart to pump so it pushes all the blood out. One sharp smack to the top of the head is enough to stun a fish without killing it. To be perfectly honest I prefer to bleed most fish without bonking at all... But I could see as how that might be perceived as a bit rough towards the fish.

Another thing I'm a big believer in is keeping freshwater off of the meat at all times. With some fish, salmon and albacore for example, I believe in keeping all water off the meat. With white meat I will drop the fillets in a bucket of salt water to rinse, but never ever fresh. Something about freshwater seems to turn fish soft and mushy very quickly.

When I'm getting ready to vacuum seal I like to do a very thorough trim job of the meat. Remove any pin bones, trim off anything I don't want to eat, wipe everything clean with paper towels etc. I like to vacuum seal a perfect product when I can. The last thing I like to do is wrap thin layer of plastic wrap around the fish before putting in the vac bag. This seems to help keep moisture in the fish from being sucked into the sealing area, which I've always found to create seal issues. Often the seal will look fine but after sitting in the freezer it will become clear that it was a bad seal.

With some fish, albacore loins in particular, I like to partially freeze before putting them in the bag. This makes them much easier to deal with and it reduces the seal weakening moisture issues.
 

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