I was so far behind in work and chores from fishing all the time…I decided to go fishing. And when it comes to Columbia River spring Chinook (the highest fat-content salmon in the world) and an opportunity to hang out with my good buddy Smarty, well, there wasn’t really much of a decision. Had to go. And springtime on the Columbia means all kinds of weather, countless shades of green on the hills, and this year…fantastic fishing.
I love springers. The kids love springers. In fact, I don’t know if there’s anything else we’d rather eat. Here are a couple of nice ones ready to be butchered. We’ll scale, fillet, steak and vac seal quite a bit for the freezer, then get ready for the night’s dinner: Springer shioyaki, salted then grilled over a hot flame. Our mouths are already watering here. Probably my favorite meal of the year.
This is Skyla going to town as our head scaler, using a serrated knife to scrape the scales free. It’s more work, but completely worth it–the skin crisps up in all that springer fat and tastes delicious. I’m already dreaming of all the springer dinners we’re going to have in the coming months. Thanks, Smarty. Great times, great friends and great food.
Tuesday dinners with Smarty are fast becoming one of my favorite traditions, and something I look forward to all week. It started as a combination excuse to hang out and a way of consuming the mass quantities of waterfowl that are unfortunate enough to come within range of Smarty’s 12 gauge. That’s Smarty’s hunting partner, Honey, posing with another pile of mallards that are waiting to be picked, cleaned and cooked in a hot oven for a very short time. These Eastern Washington corn-fed ducks are incredibly big and fat. And delicious. I doubt I will ever tire of eating ’em.
More recently, our menu has expanded. Ducks are still the mainstay, but now we’re supplementing with some other treats. That’s last week’s gorgeous, fat-laden Puget Sound winter blackmouth fillet above, salted, steaked and ready for the grill. It’s not quite Columbia spring Chinook, but nothing comes closer than this. Especially in December.
Finally, we have elk steaks, courtesy of my good friend Kate Taylor, who not only tipped the behemoth over, but delivered the goods to my house. Did I say “good friend?” I meant great. As in awesome. I marinated these slabs in olive oil, garlic and a bit of rosemary overnight. Hit ’em with kosher salt and cracked pepper, then two minutes a side on a raging barbecue and it was pure, melt-in-your-mouth heaven. I’m already looking forward to next Tuesday.