There's nothing quite like the first taste of the season of fresh King Salmon. Melt.in.your.mouth.good. With oils oozing out of the flesh, onto the plate, ready to be wiped up with a piece of French bread. Yep, eating at its finest.
But it isn't always like this. I remember overcooking salmon. I remember going to restaurants and having it overcooked. I didn't know there was any other way. It was still good.
Then my hubby came into the picture and however he figured it out, I'll never know. I mean, it isn't like people KNOW to not overcook fish.... You cook it until it's flaky, but being flaky is different from melt-in-your-mouth flaky.
We were in Seattle last year and went to his really nice restaurant. I ordered fresh King Salmon served all kinds of fancy. But it sounded good. It came and the instant I put my fork into it, I knew it was overdone. Not by much, but overdone. I was going to eat it anyway because clearly this is how they cook salmon at this restaurant.
Then the waiter stopped at our table and asked how it was.... do I dare say, "overcooked"? I stumbled for a second, then I stuck my fork back into the salmon and I think I must have made an unhappy look on my face and he instantly knew what I was thinking. He grabbed my plate from me and said he'd get me another one! Okaaaaayyyyy.....
It didn't take long for him to bring the second attempt to our table and as I stuck my fork in for my first bite, here comes the chef! He thanked me for returning the fish and commented that most people prefer their salmon overcooked, because they don't know otherwise! I think I made his day! And I appreciated that he came out to follow up and see what kind of odd person wanted their salmon so not overcooked....
But once you've eaten salmon the right way, it's hard to eat it overcooked.
Now, here's how to cook it to perfection. First, you butterfly the steaks so they're all even sizes. Don't ask me how because I just eat the fish, I don't prep it! Next, sprinkle it with Hickory Smoked Salt. Generously. Although you can use a propane grill, my husband prefers the good old fashion Weber grill with briquettes. Get them good and hot. Then, start adding the steaks, cook them for two or three minutes, flip them over, cook another couple minutes. You only cook until the flesh can be pulled apart, not a second longer. If you do this, you will have melt in your mouth fish that is to die for.
We had a friend who would come to Juneau every spring and fish for King Salmon off the rocks of Outer Point, Douglas. He would call us with a "fish on" and by the time he got to our place, we would have dinner going, fit for a King and Queen. Some years we would have fresh King Salmon five nights a week.... And we never tired of it.
The rest of the salmon would be processed (butterflied) and put into gallon freezer bags, every spare inch of space/air being used by a steak. Then frozen. Our friend would take some of the salmon home with him to can, but mostly he just filled our freezer. Over and over and over. We never complained; we just fed him.