Wild salmon fillet and tail portion
Heat just enough olive oil to lightly coat the fry pan since salmon has its own oil but still needs some help when sauteing. Sprickle the non-skin side of the salmon with lemon pepper. Saute the pepper side down and after about a minute or so gently lift the salmon with a spatula to keep it from sticking. When it’s nicely brown — about 3 to 5 minutes — flip and saute the skin side. I usually make a tiny slice into the thickest part to see if its moist and just starting to flake.
Better to have a slightly underdone salmon (that when removed from the heat will still cook when covered in foil) than one that is dried out.
In any case, what elevated this very simple dish and provided appropriate companions for a wild entree were local grown green beans, two varieties of tomatoes from the farmer’s market and my backyard, and fresh poi from Waiahole Poi Factory.
Background: My family is committed to eating fish at least once a week and has a preference for wild caught fish rather than farmed varieties, even if the source of the salmon might conjure up a vision of a nuclear meltdown. (The salmon here is Russian wild.) Salmon, although not a Hawaii fish, is readily available, generally affordable, and tasty. A fillet and a tail yielded about 4 servings for us.
Surrounded by an ocean full of sea life, I still have a hard time finding affordable fish from local waters in the local supermarkets. Key words here: affordable and supermarkets. Other things for me to think about are (1) I need to experiment with wild caught affordables when I can get them, and (2) I should visit a fish market in Chinatown or shop at Fresh Catch.
My friend who is on sabbatical from her university in Chicago was at my place a couple of weeks ago ostensibly to discuss a research project but primarily to go on a lunch excursion. It was a choice between Kahuku Grill (with farmed! shrimp) or a drive in the other direction to Waiahole Poi Factory. We opted for the Factory and I bought a 2 pound bag of poi to take home.
I know very little about poi but I do know that the color and taste vary depending on where the taro is grown and, from what I have read, whether it is milled or hand pounded. This poi was fresh and consequently pinkish and somewhat sweet. Poi this fresh is a good way for a tentative but not inexperienced poi eater to develop a liking for this Hawaiian staple. Poi goes well with something salty, like the salmon here or the kalua pork I had for lunch or the beef luau my friend had.
You know what no one ever told me about poi? How rich it is. Not filling rich like a potato, but rich like full fat yogurt. And why does it taste better when you eat it off your finger?