Riley's Salmon Head Soup
Category: Soups & Salads | Blog URL: http://fat-of-the-land.blogspot.com/2009/08/salmon-head-soup.html
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Photo: Langdon Cook
"When the buffalo are gone, we will eat mice, for we are hunters and must have our freedom." - Chief Sitting Bull
Riley let out a whoop when the fish hit his lure, and I'm sure I probably thought it was a false alarm, some weeds or a bottom snag. But then I saw the kid's Snoopy rod doubled over and vibrating like a tuning fork. Next came the yelling and screaming and carrying on. Other anglers on the beach interrupted their casts to take notice of the commotion. I ran over and set up a station behind the boy, making sure the fish didn't rip the rod right out of his grip. He reeled and kept the tip up like a pro. Pretty soon the fish was in the surf and I figured for sure it would break the line. But Riley held on and pulled that salmon right up onto the beach by himself. The kid knows what to do.
In our family we use the whole animal. We ate grilled fillets in two sittings. The head I saved for something special.
My kids are big soup eaters. Because we live near Seattle's International District, at a tender age they discovered noodle houses and the "subtle yet profound" pleasures of an Asian noodle soup, as one blogger has jokingly put it, parroting cooking shows like "Iron Chef." These soups are so tasty and cheap that I never really considered trying to make my own before, but salmon are an ever-dwindling resource in the Pacific Northwest. When the salmon are gone I suppose we'll fish sculpin; in the meantime we can do honor to our catch by eating every last morsel.
Those of little faith might get spooked during the proceedings, especially when the salmon heads are rolling around in there with the leeks and ginger, going to pieces as they sizzle in the pot. But that's what the strainer is for. Ever glanced into the kitchen of a back-alley noodle house? Not a good idea. Just remember: all the crazy stuff going into that bubbling cauldron will eventually get strained out, leaving—yes—a subtle yet profound broth in its place.