An Ode to Salmon (& the coke-snorting boys of my youth)

I’m always perplexed when I see a recipe that calls for ‘salmon’.

I get agitated, even.

What kind?

How can you proceed unless you know if it’s a Pink or a Sockeye?

In the 80’s, when I was a teenager, all the boys over the age of 13 got recruited on onto fishboats during salmon season. There would be approximately one teenaged boy on the schoolbus those days.

Since I’ve had a teenaged boy of my own, I’ve sometimes wished that he would get conscripted onto a fishboat. Up at 4am, a good dousing with saltspray as he hit the deck, and a 14-hour day gutting fish: that would just about do it!  A perfect recipe for turning a wayward hoodlum into a hardworking young man.

But the truth was that when I was young, our boys came back from the boats with established coke habits and pockets overflowing with cash. Not a good combination for impressionable young men. Or the young ladies of their acquaintance.

But it was the tail-end of an era. After the 80’s it was over, and boys don’t turn into men (hard-working, coke-snorting or otherwise) on fishboats any longer. At least not on Vancouver Island.


Cooking salmon outdoors. Photo found at

For me, there are two kinds of fish: salmon & everything else. I can eat salmon almost every day & never get tired of it.

Other kinds of fish, less.

If you are having a hard time adding more fish to your diet, maybe you’re the same.

Be sure to get wild pacific salmon. If it doesn’t say wild, it’s farmed; and if it doesn’t taste great, there’s something wrong. Fresh salmon smells sweet like the ocean, not fishy. Frozen salmon can be freshest, as it’s frozen at sea.

I know nothing about Atlantic salmon (they might be delicious) except that here on the west coast they are synonymous with fish farming, and fish farms are all outposts of the evil death star.

Here’s my quick overview of Pacific salmon. I exclusively bake salmon if I’m cooking indoors, because it’s so easy.

Chum (Silverbright) & Pink

Pinks & Chums are your everyday salmon.

They’re not the ones you’d serve to the guests at your wedding dinner, but they are excellent for the home folks on a Wednesday. They are less flavorful, lighter coloured, have less fat, and are less robustly textured. They will dry out more easily, so benefit from cooking with a sauce for a buffer.

Pre-paleo, I used to mix soy sauce & brown sugar into a thick syrup, and slather that on before baking. Now I could replicate that teriyaki flavour with soaked dried apricots and coconut aminos whirled together in a food processor, but I usually bake Pink & Chum filets topped with a store-bought olive tapenade and serve with some home-made fruit salsa (Try minced onion & garlic, lime juice & diced kiwi).


You can do anything with a Coho; it swings both ways.

Chinook (King) & Sockeye

Sockeye & Chinook are salmonid royalty. Bake them gloriously all by themselves or scatter a minced clove of garlic on each portion and bake just so.

Baking Salmon

  • Lay the filet(s) on parchment paper in a baking pan to make washing up easier;
  • Bake salmon ten minutes per inch of thickness at 350, until the flesh becomes opaque and flakes form. Once you develop a relationship with salmon it will tell you when it’s ready;
  • Make lots & eat it cold;
  • Leftover salmon is superlative in shepherd’s pie;

Smoked salmon

Love it. Ate some today already.

Almost all smoked salmon contains some added sugar, so I exclude it when I’m doing a 30.

Tinned salmon 2 ways

I buy tinned salmon by the case because it takes up almost no room and it’s an excellent thing to have if I neglect to plan or when my overdraft is overdrawn.

Bonus for bunker-freaks: the expiry dates on tinned salmon are up to 5 years, making it a brilliant apocalypse-kit food.

When working with tinned salmon you can remove the skin & vertebra (if present) or leave them in. They are completely edible.

Salmon artichoke hash

Have some protein with your protein!

  • 1 tin pink salmon
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • I clove minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped artichoke hearts

Mix ingredients & fry without stirring until browned & crispy underneath, stir & repeat. Eat with scrambled eggs, avocado & sauerkraut (anytime of day).

Fast food: Salmon salad wraps

Quicker than drive-through!

  • 1 tin pink salmon
  • 1 tin sockeye salmon
  • A few tablespoons salad dressing, paleo pad thai sauce, or salsa. Whatever you have.
  • A few tablespoons minced red onion
  • A heaping spoonful of capers
  • Optional: Lettuce leaves or a cucumber

Eat this gloriously as it is with a fork, or wrap it in lettuce leaves, or cut a cucumber lengthwise, remove the seeds & make a paleo sub.

Gratitude to the fisherfolk…

Gratitude to the salmon!

4 thoughts on “An Ode to Salmon (& the coke-snorting boys of my youth)

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  4. Pingback: Our Salmon | petra8paleo

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