Sorry about the salmon, bare

I fished in Alaska for years, as did my father and my grandfather, who emigrated from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia the where his father and grandfathers had fished the Mediterranean waters since before the time of Jesus.

When I fished in Alaska, I ate salmon more than any person on the face of this earth, bar none. Some of the skippers of the Great Depression-era would leave the port with a just couple 100 lbs. bags of rice and a few cans of soy sauce. That’s it for a week: salmon and rice. If you didn’t catch any fish you knew exactly what you were going to eat, and that was after pulling in a quarter mile of net by hand, from sunrise to sundown. My skipper remembered those days so well that sometimes we would have to trade some fresh steelhead to the boat we docked up next to in port for some frozen, freezer burnt steaks if we wanted anything different to eat.

I’ve eaten kippered salmon, breaded salmon, pan-fried salmon, baked salmon, teriyaki salmon, salmon cakes, smoked salmon, salmon salad sandwiches, salmon pot pies, salmon sushi, salmon stir-fry, and frozen salmon on a stick. I’ve eaten live, pulsing salmon hearts and had hot salmon jizz squirted straight from the fish, from his left nut into my into my left eye. I relentlessly piled thousands of pounds of lead-weighted fishing net while pulverized fish guts and giant stinging jelly fish rained over me after having been whirled through a 1,000 lb. hydraulically powered block and speeds that would make the twin diesels whine like babies.

I’ve eaten “five-minute dead” pink salmon, dog salmon, silver salmon, king salmon, highly illegal baby king salmon, albino white king salmon, sockeye salmon, steelhead, halibut, tanner crab, dungeness crab, king crab, and a bunch of mackerel that had somehow ended up 2,000 miles from Asia via El Nino. You name it. We would find fish in our hold that we couldn’t even identify after looking in books for an hour.

It’s not funny when you are wading around in the icy cold blackness of the fish hold at three o’ clock in the morning while the halogen lights from the fish tenderer above barely let in enough light to keep you from banging your head and knocking yourself unconscious on the refrigeration pipes above. Meanwhile you while you are stooped over spraying sea water from a hose to thaw the frozen fish that have wedged themself in between the Freeon pipes, trying to avoid slopping “gurry”(a magical concoction of sea water, live fish, dead fish, fish slime, and fish scales, all at the lovely temperature of 32.01° F and the consistency of a milkshake) into your BF Goodrich Extra Tuff boots.

One night while arm-deep in gurry, I felt something big and hard. It’s wasn’t a salmon and it was BIG. What the hell? It’s wasn’t moving so it was probably dead. I felt more closely; It was hard and heavy. Alaska has sharks. Ten feet long with brown and yellow spots. They have been dumped live into fish holds and had to be fished out. Usually we would wrap a noose around it’s thrashing tail then have winch it up and over the side of the boat. we would then cut off it’s tail and watch it sink to the bottom. It’s the only way. Anyway, I was scared shitless. I felt some more and noticed it was round, about four feet in diameter. I found it’s gaping mouth and flossed a line through its gills and winched it out. It was big, flat, round, and white. It was a “El Nino tourist” from Hawaii or somewhere that was dropped off in Alaska by following a transient warm pool. To this day, I still don’t know what kind of fish it was.

Sometimes we didn’t even eat until eleven o’ clock at night. And when we did, it was only after we had woken up at three o’ clock in the morning and motored for three hours through fifteen-foot swells to the fishing grounds.
We laid our first set at one second after six AM and didn’t stop until our hatches were loaded and we had gone to the tender. Sometimes we were deck-loaded by noon, so we off-loaded at the tenderer and were back out fishing an hour later. Then, after pitching thousands of fish by hand into a basket suspended under a crane, I might finally get something to eat.
But wait! We had done sooo well that day that the skipper decides he wants to salt some fish and pack them into five-gallon buckets so he can put them in his freezer in Tuscon, Arizona! So after I alone spent two hours filleting fish, since the skipper had discovered that I was the best fish filleter he had ever seen in his forty five years of fishing in Kodiak, I remember that I had some fresh king that had been marinating in the fridge. But after the skipper spent $100k redesigning and remodeling the galley all in teak, he learned that he had placed the fridge too close to the stove, which was always left on so it would never keep anything cool.

So I took the warm softened fish out to the hibachi and let it slow cook for about forty five minutes while I showered in the cannery employee showers that looked like something out of a POW prison camp. I slowly loaded with frozen hands the quarters, that I had hunted down from anyone still awake, into the rusty box that would send luke warm water trickling out for a heavenly three minutes, which then would suddenly and unexpectedly turn ice cold sending my body into instant hypothermia. I would fumble with soap in my eyes and slippery fingers to load more quarters. When the water hit my face it would reconstitute the legendary brutal jellyfish that had dried on my face, in my hair, and in my stubbled beard. I screamed like a baby though nobody could hear my cries.

I walked back to the dock, running my fingers through my long hair and still finding fish scales, past the garbage dump where grizzleys would wander at night with blackened singed hair from the fires. As I got closer to the boat, I could smell the fish, but longed only for my sleeping bag that forever stunk of gurry and diesel.

I ate that fish and it was by far the best salmon I had ever had, and still remains my favorite recipe, the same recipe that had been handed down to me by the fishermen of the Depression Era. Those brave men who risked their life every single day and found comfort in the quiet dark nights from their soy-marinated salmon and rice.

Bare, I am sorry you didn’t enjoy it, but maybe I can make up for it with my smoked salmon/halibut recipe.

This really isn’t a flame but I feel better nonetheless.

Was anyone else thinking of Forrest Gump when he went down his list of salmon dishes?

'You can broil it, sautee it, pan fry it,…"

Airman!!! You ruined a perfectly good, heartfelt story with that little comment!!

But yes, I had the whole Forrest Gump accent going in my head as I read off the list… :slight_smile:

Excellent post, Wishbone.

btw, what are you talking about in relation to Bare?

Knew a lot of Croat salmon fishermen in Anacortes, Wash. Is that where you were based at the time?
Great story by the way.

Guy I knew once went up on a boat and helped with the harvest, although he spent most of his time as the cook. He fancied himself a bit of a chef, and one night tried to impress the crew with paella. As he was serving the weary crew, he was going on and one about the special Basmati rice he used and the other ingredients.
Finally, it was too much for the guys.
"Fucking rice is fucking rice," one fisherman snapped at him.
That shut him up.

Wishbone was refering to my post in GQ regarding refrigeration of soy sauce.

A little background…I’ve been hankering for salmon since my stingy bartender got back from Alaska a couple weeks ago with two huge salmon. Guess I’m gonna have to start tipping the bugger. I couldn’t swap, buy or even distract his attention long enough to purloin a sample.

Safeway had a sale on some good looking filets and I bought one, came home and looked up salmon recipes on the SDMB. Wishbones’ struck my fancy so I gave it a try.

I reckon if I’d eaten as much salmon as Wishbone has, I’d prefer the flavor of soy sauce over salmon too.

And I’m so glad you’re feeling better Wishbone, I’m starting to too.

Originally posted by Attrayant


Items not refrigerated by bare:

Soy Sauce
Miracle Whip
Peanut Butter

I don’t refrigerate any of those, and they last well over a year (I buy the really big bottles). Also not refrigerated by me:

Pancake Syrups
Hershey’s chocolate syrup (for making choco-milk)
Sweetened condensed milk
ALL Salad dressings

I am relieved to see that I will not be the only one accused of child endangerment should anything ever happen. I am always the test case in anything questionable though.

As an aside to Mr. Wishbone, I gotta bone to pick with you lad. I tried your salmon recipe last night, you know the one with the brown sugar and soy sauce marinade? It sounded good and I only altered it a tiny bit with some garlic and ginger and put it on the BBQ, per your instructions. Actually, I started some rice on the stove first and before pouring all that good looking marinade down the sink, thought to myself, “Self, rice and soy sauce are made for each other, right?” So I substituted the marinade volume for an equal volume of water for cooking. Stunk up the whole house but I didn’t notice it because we were outside with the BBQ. Pop the lid on the BBQ after a few minutes and the fish was done perfectly! Brought it back in and turned the rice off. The rice did look kinda odd, like it never cooked, all the moisture gone but the rice still hard as when it went in the pan. Tasted like it looked. Our only other complaint with you sir, is the salmon at FOUR dollars a pound tasted just like Soy Sauce at four dollars a gallon.

I apologize for hijacking the thread for a moment, but the subject was soy sauce and I did want to have a word with Mr. Wishbone, though it didn’t seem worth its very own thread.

Anyone have any idea what may have happened to the rice? I even drained and rinsed the rice and tried to re-cook it in plain old water with no success. Put it out for the birds this morning and haven’t seen any of them since.

I don’t want you to feel all persecuted now Mr. Wishbone, I just blame you for the salmon, not the rice.

Bingo. My grandfather was one of the original twelve Croats to move to Anacortes. They all came from the same small town on the island of Vela Luka on the Adriatic and rode the same boat to Ellis Island. I look nothing like my grandfather but strangers still come up to me on the street in Anacortes and say “That’s a ****cich if I’ve ever seen one.” That’s where my dad grew up and I have heaps of cousins that still live and keep boats there.

Great post, Wishbone.

Hey Wishbone,
Great town, ain it. Vela Lukas know how to throw a great party.