When the commercial salmon fishing season started on the West Coast a few months ago, I asked you hounds about buying and freezing whole salmon. Time has gone by and there were a few times when I meandered down to my local docks to try to score some just caught wild salmon only to come up empty-handed for one reason or another. There's alot of unpredictability when you're dealing w/ nature and workers of the sea...
So last Fri., we were pretty happy to land a 9 lb. beauty that was caught just that day from a boat. I regret not taking a photo now. Just in case you were wondering, prices for whole salmon at my docks have been fluctuating from $4-$6/lb., and we got ours for $5/lb.
The woman who sold it to us also happened to be a student in my husband's summer school course (poor thing!) and showed us a great tip for quickly scaling the salmon. She turned on a water hose to med-high pressure, laid the fish on the dock, and blasted those scales off before you could say, "sustainable fishing practices." I thanked her profusely for saving our kitchen and us from wasted time. Does this work for most fish?
It was already gutted (yay!), so my husband did all the filleting after viewing some tutorial online. Hehe, this is where I'm happy to let him take charge. We ended up getting about 14 moderate-sized fillets from it all and saved the head, tail, and backbone which I used for stock. Even though we had fish parts everywhere, the kitchen didn't smell fishy at all since it was so fresh!
We then decided to freeze about 10 fillets for later, which I had never done before and so used tips from you hounds. Half were placed into a thick freezer bag w/ as much air as we could squeeze out. Half were placed into a tupperware container and submerged in water. If I had been savvy enough, I would have frozen into two-serving portions, but I'm a freezer newbie. I'll learn.
Let me just say that eating a piece of grilled salmon that was caught that exact same day was amazing (pic below)! It was sweet, succulent, and very complex in flavor. We just kept moaning and groaning as if we had never eaten salmon before! I served it w/ turmeric and dill jasmine rice and Asian-style marinated veggies. The next night we did a slow-roasted version (250F for 15-20 min) w/ soba noodles and baby bok choy in a miso broth. Totally different prep but just as tasty.
So...back to the frozen pieces. About 5 days into freezing, we decided to thaw two pieces from the bag w/ no water for dinner. Thawed in fridge first and then finished thawing at room temp. They were still a little frozen in the center when husband put them on grill, but we were starving by then. Served w/ grilled veggies ratatouille style. Taste? Still amazing! Very little if any degradation in flavor or texture that we could detect. View photos of all 3 dinners at the link below. Warning: this has the potential to make you very hungry.
So hounds, I'm here to say that filleting and freezing a whole salmon can be done successfully at home! Part 2 of my report will come when I defrost and taste the ones in water for comparison. I'm crossing my fingers. I read online that all the "bad stuff" will have been killed after 7 days in the freezer (correct me if I'm wrong), so I see some salmon tartare, poke, and sushi in our future! Any advice on raw wild salmon? Am I crazy?
So I made this salmon stock w/ your usual aromatics, fennel seed, and saffron. It actually tastes pretty good and isn't too oily. Thought I would use it for a seafood stew or maybe a Viet sweet and sour fish soup called "canh ca chua." Any other ideas?