Posted on February 9, 2012


Salmon Backbones Left Behind After Fillet

Today I headed up to the lower nordic loop at Eaglecrest Ski Area. Even on the mountain the temperatures were in the 40’s but the good cover we got earlier in the season is holding up pretty well. Judging by the marks on the recently groomed trail, a few folks got out ahead of me, but I did not see another soul the whole time I was out and had the trail all to myself. The Taku Winds kicked up just as I was getting onto the trail and whenever I was out of the trees the wind pummeled me. No matter what direction I was going, it seemed I was facing into it. I didn’t mind, however, because it made me think about fishing in Bristol Bay where the wind is often strong and gusty. The snow was starting to feel a bit boggy in low sections of the trail, but down hills were break neck fast and I had to use quick feet to step around corners so as not to get slung to the outside of the trail. It was another good day on the snow.

Bristol Bay Naknek River Smoked and Canned King Salmon Strips

Tonight we are going to have some soup made with backbones that I have saved after filleting out Naknek River Kings that I had saved for the winter. I have to confess that my knife skills are not what they should be and I leave good meat on the bones that I hate to let go to waste. Also, I like to save the bones for stock. Here is a recipe for fish stock that Francis Lam described in a post when he was still writing for Salon, the online newsletter:

For the base of the soup I will be using some of the salmon stock that I made with this recipe and previously froze. I also plan on starting with some sautéed celery and onion. Before putting the backbone in the soup I am going to bake it, scrape the salmon from the bones and cut it into sections. I will also add some short grain brown rice to the pot. Once the flavor has cooked out of the bones and the soup is ready to serve I will add the salmon that was saved from the backbone and have a jar of Naknek River smoked King Salmon strips to add to the soup or eat on flatbread to our liking and taste.

Jean Foillard Cuvée Corcelette Morgon

My mind always leaps to Pinot Noir when I think of pairing wine with salmon, but there is another red that I think works just as well, Cru Beaujolais. Previously, I only ever had poor associations with this type of wine because I had only ever had crappy Beaujolais Nouveau, but I learned from Michael Alberty of Storyteller Wine Co., from one of his newsletter offerings, how wonderfully the Gamay grape is able to express itself under the right circumstances. Here is an archive of the offering for a little backstory:

If I were to choose a wine for this meal and availability was not an obstacle, I would choose the Jean Foillard Morgon “Cuvée Corcelette.” It is one of my all time favorite wines, but, unfortunately, I do not think this wine is available anywhere because the current release year of 2009 was rated so highly for all of Beaujolais. The wine has a lightness that will not exhaust your palate yet possesses a depth and fullness of flavor with complexity and layers. In other words it has a structure or spine, if you will, that will hold up to the salmon backbone.

Francis Lam has also written a piece about Bristol Bay and its salmon resource that you may find enlightening: