A Fish Dinner on the Homestead

Yesterday I caught our first salmon of the season. Eagerly awaited, and at least two weeks later than last year, I’m additionally proud of this fish because I caught it with a broken Buzzbomb. Buzzbombs are my favorite lure, the most effective fish harvester in my tackle box. They’re fragile—the diamond-shaped lead lure will shatter if a bad cast hits a rock—but even a broken one shouldn’t be counted out. This lure had broken into three pieces, and it still brought us a nice salmon!

The homestead's first salmon of the season, caught with a broken lure (Photo: Aly Zeiger).

I must confess that this was a pink salmon, or “humpie.” Many Alaskans refuse to eat pinks, and look down on those who do. That’s fine; the way I see it, it’s better fish than many we catch off the rocks, at no cost other than time invested and perhaps a lost lure now and then. Also, anyone who refuses pink salmon for dinner has never eaten Michelle’s! Besides, the salmon we catch out front are sea run, meaning they haven’t entered their home fresh water, where they start to mutate and decay, and they’re absolutely fresh, two factors that improve them over most pinks.

Raw materials for a feast: fresh caught salmon, freshly harvested vegetables. These ingredients were all alive less than two hours before dinner! (Photo: Michelle Zeiger.)

This is how my mother taught Michelle to bake salmon:

She lightly salts the inside of the whole, cleaned fish and stuffs it with herbs, in this case, Egyptian walking onions, dill, and garlic scapes from the garden. She salts the outer skin and sprinkles it with garlic powder. She bakes it at 425° for 10 minutes per inch of thickness at the thickest point until the flesh is flaky.

This salmon measured 22-inches long, probably about 5 pounds. That’s a lot more fish than we’re used to in this family, where a decent-sized Dolly Varden makes a meal. We’ll have leftovers today, probably salmon salad sandwiches, featuring Michelle’s homemade tartar sauce with fresh garden ingredients.

Michelle makes tartar sauce by mixing mayonnaise, minced onions, minced dill pickle, dillweed, cream of tarter to taste, and a dash of soy sauce.

We feasted on salmon, fresh garden salad (with the first of the tomatoes) and short-grain, brown rice. For dessert, homemade strawberry shortcake with garden strawberries.

Suppers on the table! Only the rice, the mayonnaise in the tarter sauce, and the wine are not locally grown and harvested. (Photo: Mark Zeiger.)

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