March 29, 2011
By Matt Straw
We interrupt this stream of steelhead consciousness to bring you salmon Jamaican style. Mon. (The promised presentation piece will appear next.) Normally, I would not be preparing fresh-caught, Great Lakes king salmon fillets in the middle of winter without visiting that mad man across the water, Mark Chmura — the only captain I know crazy enough to troll in Lake Michigan proper during January and February. Using normal methods to freeze salmon, I think the flavor is severely compromised in a matter of weeks.
I never preferred freezing any of the salmonid species — which includes lake trout, steelhead, splake, and any of the salmons — until I started vacuum packing the fillets with a FoodSaver GameSaver. Vacuum packing keeps oxygen away from the meat, preserving the fresh flavor of salmon and trout five times longer.
I should post this recipe (which is unbelievably good). Then again, it might win $500. That's the top prize for the best recipe sent in to the FoodSaver GameSaver Sweepstakes running through April 8. Even without a recipe, you can pick up one of the eight new GameSaver food-saving systems being given away (with copies of Scot Laysath's book, The Sporting Chef's Favorite Wild Game Recipes). Check it out at FoodSaver.com.
I mentioned the GameSaver in an earlier post as a conservation tool. I'm wasting far fewer fish, and getting the most out of my catch in terms of flavor and longevity in storage. Knowing all the fish in my freezer are good, I'm releasing even more fish than normal, and I normally release well over 90% of my catch.
It seems intuitive that, if the fish looks, smells, and tastes better, it's more nutritious, too. Nothing I hate more than tossing out salmon, which is rich in omega 3 oils. And it seems likely those oils are the reason salmon doesn't store long. Or, I should say, didn't store long. But that was before systems for sealing fillets and whole fish in a vacuum came along.
Great method for freezing oily baitfish like smelt and ciscoes for deadbaiting pike. Vacuum packed, they keep longer in the cooler on the way. Sucker season will be here pretty soon.