|Dorie Greenspan's Salmon in a Jar|
My soul purpose, other than a wine tasting of premium wines was to savour a salmon dish at Liam McNulty's "Patio." According to their website, "Liam’s food has been described as rustic and heartwarming with its family-style focus on rich, savoury comfort meals. He sources all of his ingredients locally, and is typically found buried to the elbow in handmade dough. As such, his pasta is always fresh-made, his tomatoes direct from the vine, and his butter would be personally churned if he could only get the licensing to keep a cow in his apartment."So I was surprised to find out that the salmon I was eating for lunch on the weekend on the winery patio came from the same sparkling lake that the resort butts up against.
There is a new salmon on my radar, not because of the species, but because of the location. We have Sockeye salmon in the Okanagan Valley in our inland lakes! I was as surprised as you are. You will find it's story below. Like wine-fed beef from the Southern Okanagan it is difficult to source but with a little research and a lot of passion you will find locals that can hook you up whether it is from a local fishmonger or butcher to farm-to-table restaurants serving up local ingredients.
|Okanagan Lake as seen from Summerhill Winery|
|Okanagan Lake from the Naramata Bench|
In this day and age I am forced to think about sustainability and the preservation of our fish stocks. We are blessed with sustainable fisheries. Living in the valley I have heard about and been fortunate enough to savour Kokanee which is a native word meaning "red fish." They are a type of sockeye salmon about the size of a river trout referred to as "landlocked" salmon because they spend their entire life in freshwater. Long-time residents of Kelowna provide anecdotal evidence that 60+ years ago the creeks where they spawn were red with Kokanee each fall season. They used terms like "millions of Kokanee" to describe the sight. Today they are an endangered species in some of our lakes and available only if you venture out in a boat with rod and lure on Wood Lake.
|Kalamalka Lake - Photo by mrussell photography|
It turns out there have always been native salmon species in the Okanagan. They make an incredible 1,000-kilometre journey from the mouth of the Columbia River where it bisects the American states of Washington and Oregon, up the Columbia River, into the Okanagan River system. Historically, chinook, coho, chum and steelhead were also indigenous salmon species in the Okanagan River Basin, but until today they have been considered either extinct or found in very low numbers. You can read a more detailed account in Okanagan Life from Jennifer Cockrall-King on this incredible fish and the efforts being made to stabilize and rebuild the declining wild Okanagan Sockeye population and to revitalize the Okanagan Nation salmon fishery. Which is why I was able to enjoy wild salmon, caught in Osoyoos Lake with rosemary confit potatoes, almond Romesco and organic mizuna greens on the patio of Nk'Mip winery.
|Okanagan Salmon at the Patio|
Jon and Anne-Marie Crofts of Codfathers Seafood Market in Kelowna have become involved with this conservation work and have signed an agreement with the ONA allowing Jon to process and distribute the salmon in the valley. Many people are surprised to be able to access fresh, local sockeye salmon, and the products are OceanWise certified by the Vancouver Aquarium program which ensures the fish are caught using a sustainable method of fishing and stock management.
The first year a recreational fishery for sockeye salmon was opened in Osoyoos Lake was in 2010, where a record run returned to spawn in the system. Instead of the 100,000 forecast, 300,000 sockeye returned to the trans-boundary lake. It was also the first time that sockeye returned almost all the way to Skaha Lake, but the dam at Okanagan Falls barred their way. Which makes it all the more incredible that this year, approximately 500,000+ sockeye salmon are expected in the Okanagan River system. These are numbers not seen since 1923. The salmon who arrive remain in good shape likely in part because of an elevation gain of only about 300 metres over the journey.
This story and this recipe continues my year long challenge from Valerie of A Canadian Foodie called The Canadian Food Experience Project. Valerie was one of the lucky few who attended the very first Canadian Food Bloggers Conference north of Toronto in April. Her experience inspired her to dig deep within herself, to discover what it meant to be a Canadian in our melting pot of food culture. She has challenged us to find our truly Canadian voice and connect with each other coast to coast through food, stories and experiences. The hope is that we will discover our truly Canadian voice and identity in this diverse country. Here’s what to expect:
- Participants will publish a Canadian-themed post on the 7th of every month
- Each month has a challenge theme, from regional dishes to cherished Canadian recipes
- You can view participants’ posts (and learn how to get involved) over at Valerie’s blog, A Canadian Foodie - Canadian Food Experience Project. It will be interesting to discover how our fellow "food enthusiast" Canadians rise to the challenge.
To discover what it means to be a "food enthusiast" in Canada it is like peeling away the layers of an onion. By methodically removing each layer of the onion, you are able to appreciate the complexities at each level as you eventually reach the core where you can objectively define the answers. When you use a metaphor, such as "peeling away another layer," you visualize a central concept (a heart or core) that is buried within.
At this moment in time it is hard for me to get to the central core and define what it means to be a Canadian in our food culture. I have lived in 4 out of 10 provinces, grew up in a British family where Yorkshire pudding and jello were the norm. My perception of how the melting pot of Canadian cuisine can be defined is muddled. By participating in Valerie's challenge I hope to sharpen my senses and dispel this mental fog just as I did on a tiny fishing boat at 4:30 AM off the shores of Newfoundland while jigging for squid while on a vacation in my last post.
'A Regional Canadian Food' was this months challenge in The Canadian Food Experience Project which began last month in June, 2013. Please join us here each month or on Valerie's Facebook Page as we embrace our nation.
When you eat locally, you eat what's in season. You'll remember that strawberries are the taste of summer. Even in the winter, comfort foods like squash soup and pancakes just make sense...a lot more sense than flavourless fruit from the other side of the world. This is hard to do all year round when you live in the "Great White North" but we support our local producers as much as humanly possible.
By recounting local experiences we are able to be inspired by the amazingness of other people, the world around us, and a sense of place. You can’t help but come out the other end loving what is unique about yourself. Through this exercise we will find our own individual – not to mention collective – voice. After a year of discovery we will hear ourselves a little more clearly.
This week I decided to make a recipe that I’ve been dying to try for forever...Salmon in a Jar from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table. Now that I’ve tasted it, I’m kicking myself for not trying it sooner! This is classic bistro food, with succulent cured salmon and creamy boiled potatoes swimming in seasoned olive oil.
It takes a little advance planning – you’ll need to start the salmon the night before – but it’s otherwise effortless and the results are well worth it. This meal is pure decadence, the kind of meal that you’ll happily sit over for hours. And, since you prepare and serve the dish in jars, it’s very portable – perfect for a picnic! Serve it with crusty bread and some tangy olives and pickles to balance out the fatty fish and oil. A little champagne or prosecco doesn’t hurt either. (my picnic basket always, always, always includes a bottle of wine!)
**Salmon in a Jar**
½ pound salmon fillet, skinned
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
½ pound small yellow potatoes
20 coriander seeds
4 bay leaves, halved
8 fresh thyme sprigs
1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 teaspoons white vinegar
Lemon wedges and crusty bread, for serving
Slice the salmon into 6 pieces and place in s small dish. Add the salt and sugar, turning to coast each piece of salmon evenly. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, the salmon will be deep pink and very firm. Run under water to wash off the brine.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the potatoes until they are soft and can be pierced easily with a fork – about 10 minutes. Drain.
Add half the salmon to a pint-sized canning jar; and half the potatoes to a second jar. Add some carrot, onion, and spices to each jar and top with a second layer of salmon or potatoes. Top with remaining vegetables and spices. Pour in olive oil enough olive oil to cover the ingredients. Add the vinegar to the jar with the potatoes. Cover both jars and refrigerate at least 6 hours.
Serve at room temperature with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
Serves 2 - 4
Nutrition information is an estimate calculated assuming each person will eat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Calories: 489 Fat: 28 Carbohydrates: 33.2 Fiber: 4 Protein: 28
You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.