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BellaOnline's American Regional Cuisine Editor

Chinook “King” Salmon

Alaska’s state fish is the chinook salmon. It is one of the most important sport and commercial fish species in North America. It is the largest of the Pacific salmon and has been known to often exceed 30 pounds.

The chinook salmon hatches in freshwater, spends part of their life in the ocean, and then returns to fresh water to spawn. Chinook fisheries in Alaska closely manage the quotes to ensure stocks are not over-harvested.

If you are purchasing Chinook, always select the fresh if possible, and try to get “wild troll-caught king”, instead of gill-net or farm-raised salmon.

Marinated King Salmon with Avocado, Tomato and Basil Dressing

For proper preparation start the day before you plan to serve it.

Cut a large tomato into 8 wedges, put in a large plastic or wooden bowl with 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion, 3 T. olive oil, 3 T. red wine vinegar, 2 T chopped fresh parsley and salt and pepper. Toss well, cover the bowl tightly and put in the fridge overnight. Stir the tomatoes occasionally. Next day drain liquid from the tomatoes, reserve juices and tomatoes in separate bowls. Set aside to use later.

4 pieces fresh Alaskan king salmon fillets, 6 ounces each
Fill a medium saucepan halfway with olive oil and heat over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the salmon can cook the fillets until the flesh begins to turn color and the salmon forms small white beads at the base. Check for doneness by running a cake tester or toothpick through with ease. As soon as they are done remove the salmon from the heat and put them on a large dinner plate. Sprinkle or splash them with some of the reserved tomato marinade juice then cover them with plastic wrap and set aside. Leave them at room temperature.

In the blender combine 1/3 cup basil leaves, ¼ cup vegetable oil, 2 T. toasted pine nuts, 1 clove garlic and 1 T. grated Parmesan cheese. Put the lid on and puree until smooth. Add some of the reserved tomato marinade juice to the pesto to help make it a sauce consistency. Chill covered until ready to use.

In a medium sized mixing bowl combine one peeled and seeded avocado with 1 tsp fresh lemon juice and 1 tsp. cumin powder and season with salt and pepper. Crush the avocado with a fork and mix it all until just combined.

To Serve-
Spoon an equal amount of avocado mixture on the center of four chilled dinner plates. Garnish edges with arugula leaves. Place the salmon on top of the avocado and place the reserved tomato pieces on top of each piece of salmon. Drizzle the chilled basil-tomato marinade puree across the top of the salmon piece and around the plate.

Salmon cooking tip:

When cooking fresh king salmon, it is always better to use a lower temperature and cook slower. If you cook salmon too fast you get an unappealing white matter (albumen) to form on the edges of the fish.

To know if the salmon is cooked, just run a toothpick through the center. When there is almost no resistance, the fish is ready to be removed from the heat and set aside a few minutes before serving.

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