Springtime in Seattle
Each spring in the Pacific Northwest, wild salmon begin a journey well beyond my imagination. These mighty red-fleshed fish, born years ago in babbling streams and creeks, have made their way to the ocean and have grown impressively large on a diet of herring, krill, and other tiny creatures. Now, something hidden deep in their DNA tells them to leave their lives at sea and retrace their paths back to the exact same pools and patches of river rock where they hatched as eggs. All this so they can spawn at their birthplaces … and then die. I don’t get it, but that’s the nature of Nature.
Of course nowadays fishermen take advantage of this mass migration of salmon, catching the fish on their way home and bringing them to places like the market in the picture above. This is The Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, inside the oldest continually running farmers' market in the country.
After picking up my salmon at the market, I spend an afternoon talking and cooking with my friend Dave Anderson on Mercer Island, just minutes from Seattle. He is a cabinet maker by trade but a barbecue fanatic by choice. Dave’s preferred way to cook salmon borrows from the barbecue tradition of low, slow indirect heat. He lays large salmon fillets on foil and crimps up the edges to create a sort of boat. Then he melts some butter and garlic together, slathers that over the salmon, seasons the fish with salt and pepper, and cooks it very, very gently, with barely glowing embers off to the side. The gentle heat for thirty to forty-five minutes and the scraps of cherry wood added to the embers make a luxuriously soft and smoky salmon. You could call his recipe just that, Soft and Smoky Salmon, or maybe it should be called Springtime in Seattle.
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