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Many times I have had the opportunity to watch the salmon spawning. They move in from the oceans, miraculously back to the place where they were born. The colors of the fish change from the lovely silvery color to shades of black and red. After spawning they die, washing up along the rocks at the sides of the rivers. There are also hatcheries which help in the reproduction of salmon, providing ladders for the fish to go up, where they head in to tanks and do their thing. The next years fish are also contained before they are released out to sea. So, let’s take a look at this cycle beginning with the fish going up a river, and then to the hatchery! Be sure to watch the video at the end!

Here is a shot of a healthy salmon before spawning. They are silver in color before they head into fresh water to spawn.

Salmon face

Salmon face

Once they head upstream and into the fresh water they lose this color as their bodies get ready for spawning. Standing along a bridge near the mouth of the river, I capture a number of shots of the salmon. Their colors have changed. See if you can spot the salmon in the water in these next shots.

Three spawning salmon

Three spawning salmon

Five spawning salmon

Five spawning salmon

Ten spawning salmon

Ten spawning salmon

Here is a shot of the salmon from the above photo a bit closer…

Close in on some of the ten

Close in on some of the ten

We headed to a hatchery, and the folks there help the salmon species to continue on. The salmon that head to this hatchery were born here. Along a river, they have set up a ladder to resemble the uphill climb. The fish head for this ladder.

This is the ladder at the hatchery

This is the ladder at the hatchery

As the tide comes in the ladder fills up. Looking through a window set into the ladder you can see the fish…

Going up the ladder

Going up the ladder

Once they hit the top of the ladder, the fish go into holding tanks. There is a mechanism that sorts the fish by size. Here are some of the salmon in the holding tank. There are a lot of them!

Before spawning at the hatchery

Before spawning at the hatchery

Here they will collect the eggs and sperm and raise the babies. Here are the babies…

Baby salmon

Baby salmon

Out in the wild, the male salmon go through a number of phases in their spawning process. They develop humps on their back, and their mouths enlarge to create a hook at the snout. Both male and female, when they enter the fresh water they both stop drinking, relying on a gland in their bodies that has stored salt so that they do not get dehydrated.

Here is a salmon heading upstream! You can already see the color change on the fish. From the hump and the curved snout this appears to be a male.

Heading upstream

Heading upstream

The male is the first to arrive at the spawning ground and mark off their territory where the gravel is not too small and not too large. When the female arrives she uses her body to create what is called a “redd.” This is a depression in the gravel and will become the nest for the eggs. With her body she signals the male that she is ready to lay her eggs. The males fight and it is the dominant male that gets to spawn with the female. Swimming side to side she releases her eggs and he releases his sperm. The sperm, called milt, mixes with the eggs. They do this again a bit farther up the stream and the gravel she moves covers over the eggs and sperm from the first batch.

The male dies fairly quickly after spawning is done, and the female hangs around for a couple of weeks by her nests, and then finally dies off, and her body gets carried downstream. Here are two salmon who have done their job, their bodies have floated downstream. They don’t smell to good either!

They have done their job!

They have done their job!

Here is a quick video that I took of the spawning salmon, the river and the little babies. Click on the link, and then on the button at the bottom right to enlarge to full screen. The sound you hear is natural sound and was not dubbed in to the film.

Well, this got to be a lengthy blog! Thanks for stopping by and for hanging in there to read this thanks! Be well! ^..^

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I was perusing the meat counter at the grocery store yesterday, and my eyes drifted over to where the fish lay. I got very excited when I saw the brilliant orange of fresh wild caught salmon! I picked up a one pound filet to share with my husband, if he was lucky! Having just harvested from the vegetable garden, I also make a quick cucumber dish to go with this along with the requisite Jasmine rice.

Ingredients
1# filet of wild caught salmon, washed and scales removed
2 TBS butter
5 cloves of garlic
Vermouth
Tarragon
Lemon juice

1 large cucumber
White wine vinegar
Vegetable oil
1 slice of onion, finely chopped
Dill weed

In a skillet add the butter and the garlic. Heat and stir until the butter starts to brown. Once the butter browns add the salmon.

Salmon added to the pan

Then add a healthy splash of vermouth, and the juice of half a lemon. Cover and cook until the color changes half way up the salmon. Turn the salmon and cook for only two more minutes.

Turn the fish

Cover and let this sit for 5 minutes. The fish will continue to cook and after the five minutes it will be done to perfection.

While the butter is browning, slice the cucumbers and place in a bowl. Drizzle on equal parts of white wine vinegar and oil. Add a couple of shakes of dill weed and the onion, and stir to coat the cucumbers. Set this aside.

Plate the salmon and the cucumber and spoon on some of the rice!

Dinner is served!

And, dinner is served!

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Want something different to do with salmon? Well, the other day while perusing one of my Mother’s old cookbooks, I came across her recipe for salmon croquettes tucked away between the well worn pages. Start this one earlier in the day so that you have time to let this sit and the flavors to permeate through the mixture before making the croquettes.

Ingredients
1 lb. fresh salmon, I am using Coho
4 cups of water
1 cup of Chardonnay
2 TBS Old Bay Seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups of Progresso garlic bread crumbs
1/2 onion chopped finely
3 green onions finely chopped
1 tsp dill weed
Dash of salt and a few grinds of pepper
1 1/2 TBS butter and extra virgin olive oil

Place the water, Chardonnay and the Old Bay Seasoning into a skillet. Heat this up to boiling.

Water, wine and Old Bay

While waiting for this to boil, wash off the fish and remove any fish scales that might be apparent. When the mixture boils, turn the heat down to low then add the fish with the pan, skin side down.

Add the salmon

Let the fish cook in the liquid for approximately 10 minutes.  Carefully remove this from the pan and place skin side up on a plate and let this cool. When cooled, slide off the skin and discard. On the salmon, you will notice a brown coloration under the skin.  I took most of that off too!  After this is done, flake the fish in a large mixing bowl. Then add the eggs, bread crumbs, the onion and green onion, dill weed and salt and pepper. Using your hands combine and then cover and let this sit in the refrigerator for an hour or more, so that the flavors meld together. Then using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, scoop into the mixture and form into patties, or the croquettes.

Croquettes are ready to cook

Lay each of these on a plate until ready to cook. While this recipe always served our family of five, if there are only two of you, allow two per person and freeze the rest. Next we will fry these up in butter and olive oil. Use about 1 1/2 TBS of butter and an equal amount of olive oil.

Croquettes starting to cook

Turn them over

When done drain on paper towel

Serve these with jasmine rice and a couple of slices of lemon! Don’t forget your green vegetable!

Dinner is served!

Enjoy!

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I used to cook salmon using dill and lots of butter. But experimentation created this recipe which uses Vermouth and tarragon. The combination of the salmon with the tarragon and Vermouth is incredible! A squeeze of a home grown lemon is awesome!

Ingredients
1/2 of a Wild or Wild-Caught Salmon, filet, cut into four pieces, skin on one side
Vermouth, I like the Italian Vermouth
3 tsp. of dried tarragon, divided
1/4 pound of butter
1 homegrown lemon, large

Ingredients for the Salmon

Take the half of the salmon and rinse it and dry. Then cut this into quarters, and make sure that the sections are even. Place the fish skin side up in a baking dish. Drizzle the Vermouth over the fish until it is 1/4 of the way up the fish. Take the tarragon and put 1 1/2 tsp. into a mortar and crush the tarragon to aid in releasing the flavors. Sprinkle over the fish and then dot the center of each serving piece with 1 TBS of butter.

The salmon is ready for the oven

Let this sit while you get the rest of your dinner together, but do preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Tonight I am having brussel sprouts with mine, and my husband is eating my least favorite vegetable: Lima Beans. I am also making Jasmine Rice with this dish as it is a lovely compliment of flavors.

The fish will take no more than 20 minutes to cook, so time your side dishes accordingly. One quarter of the way through, baste the fish. Then half way through the cooking time on the fish, remove the pan from the oven, turn the fish, and spoon some of the pan juices over the fish, but add a bit more Vermouth, not much, just a bit.

Turn the fish

Sprinkle with the rest of the crushed tarragon, and top again with 1 TBS of butter on each piece. Don’t worry about the butter and think that this is a fatty dish, at the end you will see that it is not. Put the pan back in the oven and bake about another 10 minutes. Again, baste the fish. By now the aromas in the house will be making the stomachs grumble, and the short wait is worth it!

Dinner is served!

Sit back and enjoy all the wonderful flavors!

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Did you know that here in the U.S. there are three types of salmon that you can buy? One is Farmed Salmon, another is Wild-Caught Salmon, and the last is Wild Salmon. What is the difference?

The Farmed Salmon live their entire life in a confined area, and the fish is prone to parasites such as sea lice. When the fish is filleted, the color of the meat is greyish white. So if you buy this fish in the store, know that color has been added. It also is low on omega 3 oils, and have higher levels of PCB’s.

Farmed Salmon- Photo by Salmonfacts.org

Wild-Caught Salmon starts out its life in a farm, but then the fish are released into streams and rivers. The fish are native to the area where they are released and live a natural life cycle. If you are buying a whole fish in the store you can identify this fish as wild caught because the small fin on the top of the fish has been nicked and this never grows back. The color of this fish is orange-red.

Wild-caught salmon - Photo by QualitySeafoodToYou.com

Wild Salmon have had no portion of their lives touched by humans. They are native to the area that they are in, they have spawned and matured where they live whether it is a river or ocean. This is the best of the salmon to eat and has the highest levels of omega 3 oils and their meat is a beautiful orange-red color.

Wild Salmon - Photo by CaveManStrong.com

Now that you know a bit about the different salmons out there, tune in later for my favorite salmon recipe using wild-caught Sock-Eye salmon!

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Today started out with a good helping of slop and I am now sitting in my recliner, computer in my lap, cup of french roast next to me on the table, and I figured now was as good a time as any to tell you how I came to be known as the Salmon Fishing Queen…

It was very early in the morning one Saturday, 4:30 a.m., and I had been invited to join a group to go salmon fishing. We were to meet at the Fisherman’s Wharf pier in San Francisco and head off to the Wacky Jacky. It was a cold morning, so I dressed in layers. The first layer had to be the thermal underwear! By the time I was layered up, I felt like the kid in “The Christmas Story,” although I could get my arms down!

Before leaving the house I took the required Dramamine to avoid any possibility of sea sickness. Off I went to San Francisco. This was my first ocean fishing trip, and my first time out on the Pacific Ocean! I was excited and a bit scared too. I was going to be fishing with a bunch of seasoned fishermen so I felt a bit in awe to have been invited.

Captain Jacky Douglas of the “Wacky Jacky” took us out. We were headed to the Farallon Islands which is a group of islands 27 miles west of San Francisco.

Farallon Islands - Photo by Jan Roletto

While that seems pretty close, it took us about two hours to get out there. We would be “mooching” I was told. Mooching is where you cut the engine back on the boat and drift.

There we were in sight of the Farallon’s, colder than heck, and everyone had their rods at the ready. I was told to take 50 pulls on my line which would take my hook and bait down about 50 feet. Then I set my rod into the holder and clipped it in. You do this so if you get a bite you do not lose your rod. My position on the boat was mid ship and on the port side close to the cabin. If you are looking to the front of the boat, known as the bow, I was on the left. The right side is known as the starboard side.

I was so cold, and there was a bit of a breeze and lots of fog, so I was standing by the entry way to the cabin and I started to dance around to get myself warmed up a bit. I drew a bit of attention from everyone, and they all wanted to know what the heck I was doing. I replied that I was doing the salmon dance and that I was calling the fish. Laughter ensued and then the reels started to sing as the fish started to hit! The three fellows at the back of the boat all turned their attention to their rods as the fish struck. Then my reel started to sing, and I had to jump into action!

I was not prepared for the weight of the fish as I reeled in my catch. It was slow going as the fish was fighting me. Up he came and the deck hand came over with a gaff to haul my fish into the boat. What a beauty! A tag was added to my fish, and my number was 4. They give you a number so you know which fish are yours by the end of the trip as they are all dumped into a bin.

Pacific Coast Salmon - Chinook - a male

Things quieted down after ten fish were brought in. I started to dance again. And again, the fish came! Needless to say, every time that I danced to warm up the lines started singing! What a thrill! By the end of the trip I had caught three, ranging from seven pounds to the biggest at ten pounds. My third fish, the seven pounder, went to someone who only caught one as the limit was two per person. It was during the group photo at the end of the trip that I was given front and center honors and I was dubbed the salmon fishing queen!

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