Sockeye Salmon

Why would a restaurant that prides itself in being part of the community, with a menu where almost every dish is based local sustainable ingredients be using wild Alaskan  Sockeye Salmon?

Well, there are several reasons, first and foremost it is extremely sustainable.  The fisheries are currently very well managed, once the quotas are met the fishing stops, leaving plenty of salmon to swim up the rivers and estuaries to spawn and become bear food.

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Secondly is traceability, we are able to verify where and how the fish was caught down to the boat.  Unless you know the fisherman, or are purchasing from a quality fishmonger, you are not able to do that with most east-coast fish.

We purchase our sockeye through Sea to Table a company based in Brooklyn, NY that distributes only wild, domestic, sustainable and traceable seafood.  They’re getting the sockeye from Naknek Family Fisheries a small family-owned business in Bristol Bay, Alaska.  As soon as the fish is caught it’s sorted, keeping the highest quality fish for their fillets.  The fillets are then flash frozen, vacuum sealed and stored until they shipped.  With the salmon run (season) being short and the number of fish caught so large, freezing the fillets for year round delivery is necessary.  Much of the salmon is also smoked and / or canned.

I never thought I would be happy to use frozen fish, I have to admit I was skeptical up until the moment I cooked and tasted it.  The skin crisps beautifully, the flesh is firm and moist.  This fish is a very high quality product; I don’t think it has diminished at all from its fresh state.  I highly recommend everyone eating Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon.

You may see Atlantic Salmon in stores or on menus, don’t buy it.  It is all farm raised in overcrowded pens, eating more fishmeal than the flesh it is producing and polluting the bays all the while.  There have been great strides made in recent years to make a better-for-the-environment and better tasting farmed salmon though it still pales in comparison to any wild salmon.

Another great thing about sockeye salmon is people love it, it tastes great, with the added bonus that it is also very good for you, high in omega-3 acids, vitamins A, C, D, and E, niacin and Vitamin B-12.  All that and it’s a cinch to cook, very adaptable to many cuisines.

Here some of photos show a few of the ways we have been preparing it.

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Korean Barbecue Glazed

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In a Banh Mi

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tea-cured hors d’oeuvres

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with pig’s skin risotto and apples

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hot-smoked dip with chips

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soy glazed with kimchi and mushroom mayonnaise

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with soldier beans, escarole and bacon

 

Eat well. Eat wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon from Bristol Bay.

EVOO’s Chicken

I’m not done with Hoosier the pig yet, we are still in the process of utilizing every bit of him. Our freezer still holds his smoked head and feet, chunks of meat and a bit of skin.  I will follow-up with blog posts as we prepare it.

In the meantime I’ve decided to tell about the chicken we are proudly serving.feather brook logo

We are always looking for better, more local sources for the food we serve.  Feather Brook Farm is one of those great sources that came upon us.  Farmer Tad, dropped by some samples one day and we were instantly hooked.  The chickens are wonderful, full-breasted, flavor bombs, grown naturally with no growth hormones or antibiotics thirty miles outside of Boston in the town of Raynham, MA.  We had been using chicken from Misty Knoll Farms in middle Vermont.  A fairly large regional poultry farm that produces a very good product, not as consistent in size and with a greater carbon footprint, being near two hundred miles from Boston not thirty.

Farmer Tad does it all, he is not only the sales representative, he raises and processes the birds.  He affably delivers the birds to us wearing his over-all shorts, a straw hat and a big grin.

Tad in a Hat

Tad

The only challenge with Tad’s birds is / was finding ways to utilize every bit of the chicken.  We use the breasts on our dinner menu, usually sous videing it and serving it with other seasonal ingredients.

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Sous Vide Chicken Breast

The thighs are used many different ways; they are sometimes ground into sausage for our lunch signature chicken sausage sandwich, braised and used with pasta as a filling, in a sauce or stuffed into a potato on our lunch menu.

We also brine and smoke the thighs and drums and use them as a topping on one of our specialty pizzas at our sister restaurant Za.

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Za’s smoked chicken pizza

We often have wings on the menu in a variety of different preparations.  On occasion make buttermilk brined fried chicken thigh sandwich.  The bones are used for stock, the livers for chicken liver mousse or in country pate.

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Chicken Liver Mousse

Having farmers like Tad growing real food makes our job of operating a sustainable restaurant that is truly part of its community feasible.

Return of a Signature Dish

One of the few dishes from our original opening menu, in 1998, has stood the test of time, has returned again.  For how long? Who knows.  We had it on our menu for 12 straight years before I decided I was sick of cooking it and that we could use the menu space for different dishes changing them frequently.

I came up with this dish in response to the somewhat bullshit statement that seafood and dairy should never be paired together.  I can most certainly agree that you need to be careful with what you pair together, a potent cheese has no place with most seafood. However, who could ever say that smoked salmon and cream cheese aren’t wonderful together.  Shrimp and Parmesan or feta, a good tuna melt with mild cheddar, anchovies with Parmesan to name a few other obvious pairings.

So here it is Cornmeal Crusted Fried Oysters with Goat Cheese Fondue and Apple – Bacon Salsa.

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Valentine, oh Valentine

Just finished another EVOO Valentine’s Day dinner service, our 19th time.  The staff cooked and served some great food.  Thanks to all, YOUR AWESOME!  The only bummer was that our on-line reservation system decided that we were fully booked long before we were even close.  Fortunately Colleen, my Valentine, realized it yesterday, 2/13, so we were able to re-coop some of our reservations.

Here are some photos of our “Here’s the Love Menu”

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“Here’s the Love”

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We started everyone off with – Lapsang Souchang Tea Cured Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon

Some of our Starters – Foie Gras Custard, Fried Oysters, Carrot Ravioli, Coconut – Sweet Potato Soup and Burratina

Some of the Mains – Beef Rib Eye, Duck and Blue Cod

Chocolate Cake, Walnut Tart and Passion Fruit Pudding Cake

New Menu items

We added a couple of new items to our menu tonight, both will be available for lunch and dinner.

Pasta dish changed to-

Billy’s Spaghetti with Braised Rabbit, Countneck Clams, Chervil, Tarragon, Fennel Cream and Zesty Crunch

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Billy our saute cook made the spaghetti, the rabbit is from Feather Brook Farms in Raynham, MA.  The countneck clams are from Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, MA

 

New fish dish-

Seared Wild Alaskan King Salmon Fillet with Soldier Beans, Escarole, Turnips, Carrot – Radish Salad and NH Smokehouse Bacon

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The salmon is caught by the Nicholson family in Bristol Bay, Alaska.  Soldier Beans are from Osbourne Family Farm in Charleston, ME.  The carrots are from Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA and the turnips and radishes hail from Verrill Farm in Concord, MA.  The bacon is from North Country Smokehouse in Claremont, NH.

Death of a pig (part 7.5)

Back to the ham, I had a Panini today made with Hoosier’s ham.  It was fantastic, Mark (our day sous chef) did the sweet and smoky ham up with Robinson Farm’s (Hardwick, MA) Family Swiss and dill pickled onions served on Raul’s (our baker) sandwich bread. I enjoyed with some of our homemade fries and Alex’s (our long-time lunch cook) tangy ketchup.

My lunch, fries were added after I took the photo.

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Death of a pig (part 8) Saucisson Sec

Making dry cured sausage is simple; grind some meat mix it with spices, stuff it into casings and hang it to dry in a fairly humid, cool space, then wait. To quote Tom Petty “the waiting is the hardest part”.  Three-ish weeks later, if all goes well you have a beautiful semi-dried full flavored, rich, fatty, dry, slightly tangy, cured sausage.  I have made this recipe many times with varied results, mostly great.  However, once in a while I have gotten a batch that just doesn’t work.  Don’t worry when it’s not right it’s obvious, it does not have the rosy meat color you expect from air-dried cured meat, it looks kinda gross and smells rotten.

Below is a pictorial of the steps we used to turn Hoosier’s fat and flesh into Saucisson Sec (dry-cured sausage).

Ground pork mixed with spices.

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The trusty hand cranked sausage stuffer, many hundreds of pounds of sausage have been made using this beast over the 15 plus years we have had it.

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I’m pushing out the sausage into casings.

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Sizing them up.

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Hanging them to dry in our curing room, next to some duck prosciutto that is just about done.

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Three weeks hanging and they’re done.

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Though we still have quite a bit of Hoosier left to use; most notably the head and a bunch of meat to braise, it may be a while before we get into it.  I will continue to write about as we utilize it.