Saturday, January 11, 2014
Canned Salmon, Then and Now
Canned salmon was one of the odder foods that my mother would, on occasion, serve for dinner. I can't say "cook" or "prepare" for dinner because, really, she just opened the can and dumped it out in a bowl. There it would sit, the cylindrical, fishy flesh still stamped with the rings from the can, sitting in a puddle of its juices.
These days, luckily, a tin of salmon can be a treat, especially when it's packed in its own juices. Just look on the label (above left) and if all you see on the ingredient list is salmon and salt—with no water or oil added—then you know it was packed fresh. It was just such a can that I was given as part of a swag bag at the Tribal Food Summit last week, a sample of wild pink salmon caught and processed by the Swinomish Fish Company in LaConner, Washington.
But what to do with it?
Something simple, for sure, to be able to appreciate the flavor of the salmon. I was originally thinking of a variation on a favorite recipe for pasta with tuna and lemon, but when I was pulling out the book containing the recipe, I also spied local author Diane Morgan's gorgeous book, Salmon (right), and pulled that out, too. Intrigued by her pasta recipe calling for an olive-mustard butter, I ended up combining those elements with the other recipe.
Turns out that capers, lemon, mustard and olives play quite well with tinned salmon. I only wish I could have made it for my mom.
Salmon Pasta with Mustard, Capers and Olives
1 lb. dried pasta
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
1 c. roughly chopped Castelvetrano olives (kalamata or oil-cured olives would also work well)
1 Tbsp. stone-ground or Dijon mustard
2-3 Tbsp. capers
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/2 lemon, juiced
4-6 oz. canned salmon, flaked, or leftover roasted salmon
Salt to taste, if needed
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook till al dente.
While pasta cooks, heat oil in large skillet. When the oil shimmers, add onions and shallots and sauté till tender. Mix in olives, mustard, capers and red pepper flakes. Sauté briefly. Just before pasta is done, add lemon zest, lemon juice and salmon and combine. Keep over very low heat while you drain the pasta. Put pasta in serving bowl, add salmon mixture and toss to combine. Taste for salt, and add more if needed. Sprinkle with parmesan, with more parmesan in a bowl on the table.