Comfort Food, Copper River Salmon, Grilling, Peaches, Squash

Copper River Salmon – The Big Thaw

A couple of weeks ago, as part of the Fresh Catch Crew, the super folks at Copper River sent me a new box o’ salmon. It was a frozen whole frozen side of  sockeye salmon from the Prince William Sound.

Prince William Sound

A Sound is a large body of the ocean located between two bodies of land. The Prince William Sound is located on the Southern coast of Alaska – bordered by the Kenai Pennisula on the west, and the Montague and Hinchinbrook  Barrier Islands to the south offering protection from the rugged Gulf of Alaska. This optimum location provides isolated, pristine, glacial pure water into the gulf that supports a healthy, sustainable salmon run.

I’ve already extolled the beauty and glory of sockeye salmon… many times – so I’ll dispense with that this time… a little. But – like I said – what I got this time was a frozen side.

Here’s the thing with frozen fish.
Given the choice (and available cash), I’ll buy fresh fish. Not that there’s anything wrong with frozen – I just prefer it that way. But, If you’re going to buy it allicy, you want to look for 2 things.
1. It must be vacuum sealed. –  IQF (individually quick frozen) fish is chilled in open air down to 33 degrees. At that point, they begin spraying lightly salted water over the fish and lowering the temperature to zero. It is then held at that temp to allow the ice to set then packaged. Which sounds good in theory. The truth is, IQF adds 2 things you don’t want – water and salt. With vacuum sealing, the fish is packaged, all the air sucked out then flash frozen. Flash freezing consists of an ethanol / dry ice or liquid nitrogen solution – so the result is almost instantaneous. You get the closest thing to fresh fish as you can get.. but, you know… frozen.

2. You want it still frozen when you get it. Stay away from any fish that has been “previously frozen”. You don’t know how it was handled in the thawing process, and no amount of guarantees from your fish monger should take that concern from you. You always want to be the one to thaw your own fish.

Thawing frozen fish is a simple matter. Leaving the fish in the hermetically sealed package it came in, place a towel on one shelf on your fridge and place the package directly on the towel. Leave the fish to thaw overnight. A 1 pound fillet of most fish should take between 8 to 10 hours to thaw completely in the fridge. (The side of salmon I have took a full 24 hours).

Just so you know… I had big plans for that salmon. I tweeted about it… I tantalized and teased the facebook with pictures of salmon and hints of recipes…
But when push came to shove, I was beat – I just didn’t have the energy to do anything with it except grill it. So, for those of you looking for the Crispy Fried Salmon Tacos, the Ancho Chili Rubbed Fillet, and the Bacon Wrapped Salmon Skewers, you’ll just have to wait until next week when I head out and buy some more to do that with.

As a consolation prize, I’ll give you the  marinade and glaze recipe, as well as the other sides and the dessert for the dinner.

For legal purposes, I am disclosing that for my participation in this exciting event, Copper River Wild Salmon is supplying me with fresh fish for use in the recipes.

Tequila Lemongrass Glazed Salmon
Makes 1 Cup of Marinade
(enough for 1 side of salmon)
1/4 Cup Anejo Tequila
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Yuzu Juice (or 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice with 1 Tablespoon of Minced Rosemary)
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Ground Lemongrass (or, 2 Tablespoons prepared Lemongrass paste – available at the market)
1 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 – 3 Pound Salmon Fillet
Tin Foil
Baking Pan
Basting Brush

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil
  • Immediately remove from the heat and allow to cool
  • Place the fillet in the pan
  • Liberally brush the marinade into the fish
  • Continue to baste the fish every 5 minutes for 30 minutes total
  • Heat the grill to 500
  • Place a sheet of foil on the top shelf of the grill and lightly spray with oil
  • Place the fillet (skin side down) on the foil, close the lid and cook for 15 minutes (for medium rare) 20 minutes (for medium), basting once more 1/2 way through the cooking time
  • Transfer to a serving platter and allow your guests to serve themselves
  • You can reheat a little of the marinade to serve with the fish, if you like

Patty Pan ~ Potato Gratin
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 Cup Butter
2 Cups Diced Potato
2 Cups Diced Patty Pan Squash
1 Large Onion
1 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Kosher Salt
Large Skillet
Shallow Casserole Dish

  • Preheat the over to 400
  • Melt the butter in the skillet, add the thyme, pepper and cumin seeds and fry until the cumin becomes aromatic
  • Add the potatoes, onions and patty pan squash, and saute until the potatoes begin to lightly brown on the edges
  • Lift the vegetables out of the butter and transfer to the casserole – reserving the butter
  • Bake at 400 for 30 minutes
  • Bring the used butter back to hot and add the panko and toss well
  • Top the casserole with the buttered panko and place back in to oven for 10 minutes
  • Serve immediately

Peach and Apricot Slump
Serves 6
a slump is one of the many incarnations of the traditional cobbler. A slump typically is a sweetened fruit base with a liquid batter poured over the top and baked.
6 Peaches + 2 Peaches
8 Dried Apricots
1 Tablespoon Candied Ginger
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Butter or Butter Substitute
1 Cup Self Rising Flour or GF Baking Mix
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Water
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Paste (or 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract)
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
8″ x 6″ x 2″ Baking Dish

  • Preheat the oven to 400
  • Mince the apricots and pit and chop 6 of the peaches
  • Add the peaches and apricots to  a small saucepan with the cup of water and ginger, and cook until the apricots are re-hydrated, soft and most of the liquid has evaporated – set aside
  • Beat together the egg, remaining water, flour, vanilla and salt until smooth – your batter should resemble loose pancake batter – add a little more water if it is too thick
  • Pour the fruit mixture into the baking dish and slice up the remaining peaches over the top
  • Pour the honey over the fruit
  • Pour the batter over the top of the prepared dish and dot the top with all the butter
  • Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the center is set


  1. Glad you asked, I probably should have said something about it in the post… Taste-wise, the frozen sockeye was every bit as good as the fresh salmon. Inherently, when you freeze anything, you've got some bit of textural changes just from the crystallization in the flesh. But the changes were negligible in a large part due to the fatty content of the sockeye – which does aid in protecting the cell structure. If I had the option between fresh and flash frozen – and cost was a consideration – I'd go ahead and buy the frozen. You'll still get a quality product long after the salmon runs have stopped.

  2. So…what was your take on the frozen Copper River Sockeye? Would you buy it in the future? Have to say as a commercial fisherman I eat a lot more frozen fish than fresh because of the season and lack of time during the season. It is almost entirely vacum packed.

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