Thursday, September 1, 2016

Native American Salmon Chowder

Okay, I'll admit it.  I have a cookbook addiction.  There!  I said it!  A friend was telling me about a neat book she wanted to get and, while I was looking for it online, I found several other interesting books, too.  One of them was The Spirit of the Harvest, North American Indian Cooking, by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs.

ISBN 1-55670-186-1
I typically shy away from these sorts of books because they usually present modern recipes that are somewhat like what the mentioned culture might have done.  When I see recipes that include the trendy ingredient-of-the-day, (applewood smoked bacon, Greek yogurt, acai berries, etc.) then I put the book down and walk away.

This book promised "authentic recipes, glorious photographs, and an informative text".  In fact, it says on the inside cover,
A specially created map places the tribes and their principal foods in geographical context.  Each chapter is introduced by an expert on the Indians of the region, and discusses the cultures of major tribal groups, their diets, their ceremonial use of food, and the historical dishes they developed.
Two recipes caught my attention.  The first is from the Northwest region of North America:  The coast from Alaska down to northern California.  This is the land of the salmon!  I chose:

Pacific Salmon Chowder  (pg 205)

1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dill seed
6 cups milk
1 pound fresh salmon, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
Dill sprigs, for garnish

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add potatoes, green onions, and dill seed, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add milk and simmer over low heat for 40 minutes.  Add fresh salmon and simmer for 10 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish individual servings with dill sprigs.  Serves 6 to 8.

My Notes

I used 1% milk; it may be the authors expected whole milk.  The amount of salmon I had was a little under a pound.  I cut it into small, bite-sized chunks.

Instead of butter, I used olive oil.

Potatoes and green onions.
The simmering of the potatoes in the milk was not really what I call a simmer.  That implies a very slow boil and I never let the milk even start bubbling.  But it did get steaming hot with tiny bubbles around the edges, and that was enough to cook the potatoes through in the 40 minutes and the salmon in the extra 10 minutes.  It is a very gentle way to cook salmon, which did not get dry or overcooked.

Tiny bubbles!
The Verdict

I served the chowder with grapes and Chippewa Bannock bread, a feature for the next post.  I had salted the chowder before serving and it tasted right but after it cooled in my bowl a little, I felt that it needed a lot more salt.  My guest tasters agreed.

With dill weed as a garnish.
Success!  My mouth wants thick soups and chowders and this was not thick, making me wish I had crushed some of the potatoes before adding the salmon.  But it was a good soup, full of salmon flavor.  The dill seed was very subtle and the potatoes and green onions give it interest.  I would do it again but I would make sure I had the full pound of salmon or more just so that each bite had more salmon as compared to potato.

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