Salmon Dish 1 & 2

The waters of Dillingham have overpowered my fishing curse!  Every time I went out salmon fishing in Koyuk I didn’t catch anything. To make things worse, not a single person that I went with caught any fish.  When we went halibut fishing in Homer I caught a shark and a spiny dogfish! Folks here told me that my curse wouldn’t hold up here, and boy are they right. Last week I caught Arctic char all by myself and helped with the salmon. Hooray!

Now that the fishing curse has been lifted, I have to figure out how to cook all the fish that is filling our freezer. Armed with my trusty Cooking Alaskan (a cookbook that also includes a recipe for a bowhead whale) and the internet, I am going to try as many salmon recipes as possible over the next year. When time allots, I will chronicle the adventures here.


Salmon Dish #1 (July 7, 2012)

The day we got our fish we were up until 1am gutting, filletting, and vacuum sealing it, so unfortunately there was no time no energy to cook it up right away. But we did have fish for dinner the next night. The recipe here was: heat up grill, sprinkle fish with salt and pepper, put fish on grill for 5 minutes, flip and cook for 5 minutes more, eat. Very simple. With assistance from Dad, Kyle masterfully cooked the salmon. This was one of the best salmon dishes I’ve had. Yum!

Salmon Dish #2

With company coming over for dinner I wanted to try something new. (They say you aren’t supposed to try new dishes on company, but I don’t heed this wisdom). Last week we toured the fish cannery here and got a booklet of recipes. Something about the Charred Sugar-Crusted Alaska Salmon struck my eye. After you glance at the recipe I’ll tell you my thoughts on it.

Dry Sugar Rub
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ tablespoon ground cumin
½ tablespoon paprika
½ tablespoon salt
¼ teaspoon dry mustard

4 to 6 skinless Alaska Salmon filletss
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ to 1/3 cup hot Chinese-style or Dijon-style mustard if desired


  1. Blend all ingredients for Dry Sugar Rub.
  2. Generously coat one side of each Alaska salmon fillet with mixture
  3. Heat oil in large heavy pan over medium heat
  4. Carefully place salmon fillets in pan, seasoned side down. Cook about 2 minutes to sear, turn fillets over.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking 6 to 8 minutes. Cook just until fish is opaque throughout.
  6. Serve salmon with mustard if desired.


Now, my thoughts on this dish. First, who in the world has ever heard of 1/2 tablespoon!?!? I thought that was just absurd, especially considering that it was for stronger spices such as cumin. So I figured they must have meant ½ teaspoon and that’s what I used. Next, while the searing part made sense I had trouble figuring out the right temperature and time to cook the fish after I had flipped it back over. Perhaps this was because the fillets had the skin on? In any case, after I thought they should be done I poked a fork in and the inside flesh was still bright pink, so I finished them in the oven at 300 degrees for a few minutes. I think as I cook more salmon I will get a better sense for how long it takes to cook and this problem will abate.


So, you’re probably wondering, how was it? I was a little nervous because when I first turned the fish over it was nearly black (although the title had told me it was a charred dish). However, it all turned out well. I definitely liked the taste of the dry sugar rub. The fish itself turned out a little dry, but that was due to my confusion about the cooking time, so that can be rectified in the future.  When asked for comment Kyle stated that, “it was very tasty.” When asked to clarify his comment Kyle stared at me quizzically and repeated, “it was very tasty,” and then with confusion, “What else is there to say?”  So he liked it as well. This one goes into the make-again pile.

Erika Written by:


  1. Jason
    July 17, 2012

    You need too get up river to east fork. Did you try ice fishing during the winter right out in front of Grace’s house (the one down by the river). If you can’t catch smelt in kka, you’re cursed.

  2. July 21, 2012

    Yup, I was cursed! Went up East Fork and still couldn’t catch anything. Hours spent out ice fishing and didn’t catch anything there either! Unbelievable, huh?

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