Been awhile since I’ve been posting anything here on the Altar. Vacation and monsoon season have put the kibosh on some meaty endeavors. Happy to say I’ve done a few things since our return from vacation.
One of my favorite things to prepare is wild caught Alaskan salmon. I’ve become a salmon snob… I flat refuse to eat farm-raised salmon and I hesitate on Atlantic salmon. It honestly comes down to color. When they add color to the fish, it winds up looking unappetizing. And let’s be honest, the way food looks can impact our perception of taste. This is why restaurants and food producers spend so much money making visually appealing food for the advertisements and packaging. Along that same line, there’s nothing in the fish world that can quite match the red of real Alaskan sockeye.
My salmon prep is quite simple… skin side down on a grill pan, spritz with olive oil, and add fresh ground pepper and ground kosher salt. That’s it. (I like rubs as much as the next person, but if I just spent $24/lb. on some Copper River sockeye, I’m not covering up the taste with a ton of spice.) I load the Traeger with alder or hickory, set it for 400, then roast the fish for around 20 minutes. If I have more time, I’ll drop the temperature to 220-240 or so and let it absorb more smoke.
I also enjoy making scallops. I should specify sea scallops (the big ones). My prep involves butter and olive oil, along with salt and pepper. I preheat a cast iron skillet, melt a stick of butter and add olive oil, then smoke for a bit. The scallops don’t usually cook that fast at a low temperature and it’s impossible to get a good sear. So, after I smoke the scallops, I usually heat up the stove and finish them on the stove. Once the butter and oil start bubbling, 90 second per side will get you a nice sear.
I also did another reverse sear London broil. I love this way of cooking, which I was skeptical about. There’s no doubt about searing the meat, it’s WHEN you sear the meat.
I did try something new, however. I made smoked tomato sauce. Due to Mother Nature’s bounty, we had a crapload of tomatoes. I quartered them, put the whole mess in a hotel pan, and set the Traeger for super smoke using hickory pellets. For those following at home, these are mainly San Marzanos and some bizarre yellow tomato that the High Priestess found while planting this year.
I let the whole mess smoke for around 90-120 minutes, brought them inside and ran them through a food mill. This netted around four quarts of juice and pulp. Added some spices and tomato paste and let it reduce. Turned our pretty good, with a bit of smoky taste that doesn’t overpower the taste of the tomatoes.
I’m looking forward to the next Traeger project.