Salmon for Between the Seasons
April 12, 2013
April is a between-the-seasons time of year on Cape Cod––the perfect time to eat salmon, if you ask me.
For one thing, local winter treats like local bay scallops and Maine's tiny-but-flavorful shrimp are no longer around. Meantime, a lot of the fish that migrate through our waters in the warmer months haven't arrived yet.
Another good reason to eat salmon right now is that Alex has found a new source of farmed salmon that he's crazy about.
You know already that salmon is not our local catch. And you know we're partial to sustainably-harvested wild Pacific salmon. But there are times when farmed salmon makes sense. Like right now when we're between the seasons.
"Hang on," Alex says, "farmed salmon only makes sense when the farming is done right."
My brother is obsessed with finding the right farmed salmon for Mac's. He's picky about the flavor and texture of the fish. He wants it meaty. He looks for a good balance of fat. It has to smell sweet. All that. But I think he's even more fanatical about the question of sustainability.
This winter, Alex started ordering from a company called Wester Ross. They're the oldest independent owner-operated salmon farm in Scotland. And they don't use antibiotics or hormones on the fish. "Obviously," says Alex. "That's basic."
They also do something called "hand-rearing." Which means they're out on the water every day feeding and observing the fish, making adjustments that just don't get made at big factories where cameras or machines are deployed instead of human beings. Wester Ross doesn't use chemicals to clean the nets, either, as many farms do; they use wind, rain, and sun to do that job. Their salmon are raised in sea inlets (lochs) with very low-density pens (99% water to 1% fish) with room to swim.
To Alex, the most important measure of sustainability in salmon farming has to do with what's called the "feed conversion ratio" or FCR. The ratio tells you how much feed it takes to for the fish to grow to harvestable size. Remember, wild salmon are piscivores. But because Wester Ross uses a feed based on offcuts from the filleting of northeast Atlantic fish, their FCR is one of the world's best. Bottom line, we aren't depleting the ocean's supply of smaller wild fish to feed these salmon.
There is one other reason to eat salmon during this chilly, between-seasons month. It's a recipe adapted from one the people at Wester Ross gave us. Salmon is always rich and satisfying enough to take the chill off. The sauce is what got us, though. It packs a fresh herb punch that might actually make you believe it is spring.
Salmon with Vietnamese Herb Sauce
We adapted this recipe from one our Scottish salmon farmers gave us. The fish is poached. It's easy, and you don't need fancy equipment to poach a few fillet portions. A bamboo steamer set over a skillet is nice to have, but one of those metal vegetable steamer baskets in a saucepan also works just fine. The sauce calls for Alex's favorite secret ingredient: Vietnamese fish sauce. If you haven't got that in your fridge, you're missing out. It smells terrible, but a few drops give just about anything a mysterious umami boost. Serve the salmon over stir-fried vegetables or rice noodles... or both.
4 salmon fillet portions, six to eight ounces each
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and roughly chopped to make about one cup
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, washed
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed lightly
3 jalapeño peppers, stems and seeds discarded
2 limes––grate the zests, then juice the limes
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon grapeseed or other light-tasting oil
Put everything but the salmon into a food processor or blender and whiz it into a thick sauce.
Place the salmon in a shallow bowl and spoon half the marinade over it and let it rest about 20-30 minutes. Reserve the rest of the marinade to sauce the finished fish.
Bring about one inch of water to the boil in the bottom half of your steamer. Wipe most of the marinade off the salmon fillets and place them in the top half of the steamer. Steam the fish for 4-6 minutes––it will become opaque and firm up a bit. Plate the fillets and sauce them with the reserved marinade.
- November 12, 2019
All You Can Eats Fish ‘N Chips
- September 30, 2019
Oct 30 Wine Dinner - NOPI
- August 28, 2019
Mac’s Lobster Clambake TO GO for your Labor Day Celebration
- August 08, 2019
The New York Times Loves Mac’s Shack!
- April 12, 2019
The Shack is Back!
- March 08, 2019
A Taste of South Africa Wine Dinner March 13
- February 14, 2019
A Taste of Italy Wine Dinner Feb 27
- January 28, 2019
A Taste of Mexico Wine Dinner Feb 6
- January 10, 2019
A Taste of France Wine Dinner Jan 16
- December 18, 2018
New Year’s Eve at Mac’s
- August 22, 2018
Book your next event at Mac’s Fish House in Provincetown
- May 29, 2018
Wellfleet Restaurant Week at Mac’s Shack
- January 10, 2018
Mac’s Winter to Spring Wine Dinners
- January 03, 2017
Mac’s Fish House Provincetown Winter to Spring Dinner Series
- September 19, 2016
New Year’s Eve Dinner & Live Music at Mac’s Fish House Provincetown
- June 28, 2016
Story of a Fishing Family
- January 04, 2016
All You Can Eat Fish & Chips $15 Every Thurs at Mac’s
- December 16, 2015
New Year’s Eve Menu + Other Holiday Happenings at Mac’s
- November 06, 2015
Get Your Thanksgiving To Go at Mac’s
- October 23, 2015
Support our local Fishermen at the Dish On Fish Benefit - Mac’s Ptown - Nov 4
- October 19, 2015
Devil’s Purse Beer Dinner Oct 21 at Mac’s Ptown - RESERVE TODAY!
- September 29, 2015
Wine & Swine Dinner Oct 7 in Ptown - Reserve today!
- September 23, 2015
Fall Dinner Series at Mac’s Fish House Provincetown - RESERVE TODAY!
- July 17, 2015
Introducing our Small Batch Label - a new way to try a little taste of Mac’s
- June 25, 2015
Happy 4th! Free Shipping on Online Orders Over $100
- March 27, 2015
- February 05, 2015
Sweet Specials for Valentine’s Day
- December 19, 2014
Mac’s Provincetown New Year’s Eve Tasting Menu
- November 22, 2014
Smokin’ Good Oyster Sausage Stuffing
- November 04, 2014
Taking Orders Now! THANKSGIVING TO GO at Mac’s Markets
- October 16, 2014
OysterFest Weekend at the Shack
- October 06, 2014
It’s Time for Oysters
- September 29, 2014
Mac’s On the Pier Open Thru Oct 5
- October 09, 2018
Wine Dinner Series at Mac’s Fish House
- December 16, 2013
‘Tis the Season for Whole-Roasted Monkfish
- October 02, 2013
- July 02, 2013
- June 14, 2013
Alex’s Dogfish Sandwich
- April 12, 2013
Salmon for Between the Seasons
- February 12, 2013
Won’t You Be Mine?