Alaska salmon is the star of summer picnics and potlatches. With a roll of foil and some lemon and herbs, your catch of the day becomes an instant centerpiece. As the snow piles up, your freezer full of salmon can assume the same leading role on your dinner table. From buttery chowders to spicy street tacos, here are six comfort food recipes to keep salmon in rotation throughout the winter.
1. French-Canadian salmon pie
Meat pie is a holiday tradition in Québec and the maritime provinces of Canada. While usually made with grocery store sausage or wild game, this tourtière recipe can also start with salmon, which was once a traditional recipe in the days when Atlantic salmon was more readily available.
According to this recipe post at the blog, Grow a Good Life, overfishing and environmental destruction decimated Atlantic salmon stocks by the middle of the 19th century. Québecois salmon pie became a rare, almost forgotten holiday offering.
This Pacific coast variation uses our wild Alaska cousins, along with potatoes, onions, broccoli, spinach, or any other vegetables you might have on hand. This recipe uses canned salmon, though you can certainly thaw out your frozen catch for the purpose.
The blog author recommends starchy potatoes such as Yukon Gold, which retain their fluffy texture as you mash them. Top with a lemon dill sauce made with béchamel.
2. New England-style salmon chowder
New Englanders know that a thick, creamy chowder will knock the chill off you after a frigid day on the water. While clams are OK, Alaskans would rather get in on the act with hunks of their favorite species of salmon.
We’re not talking about the watery tomato broth found in Italian places throughout New York. This is the buttery, peppery New England chowder with corn, potatoes, and herbs.
This chowder begins with bacon sautéed in butter along with celery, onions, jalepeño peppers, green onions or scallions, and garlic. You’ll add some kind of stock, either chicken or seafood — which you can make from the discarded bones and skin from your fillet. You’ll also whisk some cornstarch and water into a slurry to thicken up your broth. For the last decadent touch, finish your broth with heavy cream. Substitute with milk, sour cream, or yogurt for a lighter option.
Served with some crusty bread, salmon chowder is a quick way to please your whole crew around the table.
3. Roasted ginger and scallion salmon
Don’t underestimate the power of ginger during the cold months. This pungent root vegetable packs a flavorful punch in sauces, soups, and teas. It can help ease bloating, fight cell damage, and inflammation. It provides a little spiciness without the pepper that can irritate sensitive stomachs.
This recipe from Food52 features a sugary ginger glaze, soy sauce, and some chopped scallions. What’s the difference between scallions and green onions? Nothing except for small size variations.
You’ll roast the salmon fillet on low heat for about an hour and serve with rice, sesame seeds, and steamed vegetables for a healthy departure from the starchy pies and chowders. At 225°, it’s almost impossible to overcook the fish, and the soy, sugar, vinegar, and ginger glaze forms a nice firm coating.
4. Salmon congee
Congee, a kind of Chinese rice porridge, is one of the best ways to use up leftover steamed white rice after a trip to your local takeout restaurant. You’ll also want to save all those pickled ginger packages from your supermarket sushi.
Known in Korea as jook, this dish is soothing, rib-sticking, and easy to whip up in a hurry. You start with your cooked rice and some water or seafood stock. You can also prepare sushi rice. This recipe calls for extra liquid and a long cooking time to bring the rice to the consistency of porridge or oatmeal. You can also cheat by using a blender and extra stock to liquefy half of the rice. Add the pickled ginger to your blender for extra flavor.
The salmon itself is simple: salt, pepper and oil in a medium-hot pan. Get the skin nice and crispy and the flesh side firm and brown.
Add scallions, mushrooms, seaweed, or chili oil to taste. This recipe also calls for a topping of crispy sliced garlic.
5. Thai salmon coconut curry
Thailand, Malaysia, and the coast of India have a huge seafood tradition, and Alaska salmon pairs well with the fish curries characteristic of this part of the world. You can Google hundreds of recipes for fish curry, but this one combines the creaminess of a fish chowder with the heat we come to expect from Indian Ocean cuisine.
This recipe will send you to the Asian food section of your local supermarket, but the ingredients aren’t hard to find. You’ll need red curry paste, coconut milk, some onions, basil, veggies and—if you’re adventurous—a dollop of fish sauce to add another dimension to the dish. Also be sure to garnish with lime juice and cilantro for a bright hit of citrus.
Like with the congee, you’ll pan sear your salmon, brown your onions, mix in the curry sauce, and finally add the fish and vegetables. It’s super quick and also great with rice, crusty bread, or Indian naan flatbread.
6. Salmon street tacos
The Mexican state of Baja California has brought us tacos with whitefish, shrimp, grilled octopus, and other fruits of the central Pacific coast.
Alaska salmon pairs well with tacos. The fish stands up to the heat of your frying pan, and absorbs the cumin, chili, and garlic powder. You can create a sweet-piquant sauce with pineapple and pico de gallo, salsa’s less liquid cousin.
You can also whip up a creamy sauce using avocado, yogurt, lime, and cilantro, although your supermarket might carry a bottled version of this in its Hispanic foods section. Top with shredded cheese, preferably an imported crumbly cotija, though cheddar or Monterrey Jack does well in a pinch.
Skip the American crunchy corn tacos in favor of the floppy wheat tortillas for a more authentic experience. Serve with a squeeze of fresh limes and you’ll swear that sound outside your window is the surf instead of the driving snow.
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