Each year, Seattleites look forward to Alaska Airlines’ delivery of delicious Copper River Salmon from the state of Alaska. The arrival of Copper River salmon marks the start of the summer salmon season and is anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Following the arrival of the first fish, three top Seattle chefs compete to create the best salmon recipe in Alaska Air Cargo’s “Copper Chef Cook-off.”

For a third year in a row, Pat Donahue, the executive chef of Anthony’s Restaurants, won the cook-off and was named, ‘The Copper Chef’ for 2012. He competed against, executive chefs Jason Wilson of CRUSH and Wayne A. Johnson of Ray’s Boathouse.

Alaska Air Cargo has published the three executive chef’s recipes for you to try at home:

The winning recipe, from Executive Chef Pat Donahue, Anthony’s Restaurants

Wild Copper River King Alder Planked with Rhubarb Cherry Coulis
Serves 4-6

2 lbs Copper River king filet Fregola – see recipe
Cocoa Ginger Salt – to taste on salmon
3⁄4 cup Rhubarb Cherry Relish – see recipe
1-2 cups Rhubarb Cherry Coulis – see recipe
1⁄4 lb. salted butter – browned in pan
1 cup Beurre Blanc – (optional)
1 ea 1⁄2” thick x 12” long alder plank – (optional)

Procedures: Prepare: Fregola, Rhubarb Cherry Coulis, and Rhubarb Cherry Relish up to a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

To cook: Soak alder plank for at least one hour before cooking. Cut salmon into serving size pieces (4-6), moisten with olive oil and season with Cocoa Ginger Salt. Grill mark salmon on BBQ then place on the alder plank in a separate pan and bake in a 400° oven. Cook until just done, remove salmon from oven @ 130-140° internal temperature. Cook your favorite seasonal vegetable. Asparagus–toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper then char grill.

To plate: Mound warm Fregola on plate. Ladle Rhubarb Cherry Coulis in front of Fregola. Lean salmon on top of Fregola and drizzle with Browned Butter. Mound small amount of Rhubarb Cherry Relish next to salmon. Enjoy! If using Beurre Blanc, drizzle over top of salmon, pool on side and dot with Coulis.

6 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1⁄4 tsp ginger powder
2 Tbsp dark cocoa powder

(Yield: 1 cup)
1.5 Tbsp minced shallots
3⁄4 tsp lemon juice
1⁄4 cup Chablis cooking wine
1 ea bay leaf
2 Tbsp heavy whip cream
1⁄2 lb unsalted butter
Pinch kosher salt (to taste)
1⁄2 cup apple cider (reduced to 3 Tbsp.)

Procedure: Combine shallots, bay leaf, lemon juice and wine in small saucepan and reduce by 50%. Strain. Return liquid to saucepan and add cream. Cook for 1 minute. Working on and off of the heat, whisk in unsalted butter in small pieces to form emulsion. Add apple reduction. Brighten with lemon juice if needed.

1 dry bag fregola (17.5oz/3 Cups = 6 Cups cooked)
3 quarts water

Procedure: Fregola can be pre cooked like pasta the day before. Cook in a shallow pan; Do not rinse. Reheat slowly in a large pan or cook up to 30 minutes before serving and keep warm. Finish with Browned Butter.

(Yield: 3/4 cup)
1⁄4 cup chopped dark dried cherries
1⁄4 cup slivered rhubarb (1 1⁄4” x 1/8“ thick)
2 Tbsp amereno cherries in juice
2 Tbsp Chocolate Cherry Rhubarb Coulis

Procedure: Mix & chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

(Yield: 2 cups)
1⁄2 lb rhubarb, rough cut
2 Tbsp dark dried cherries
1.5 cups Northwest merlot
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter
To taste salt & pepper
1⁄4 oz 85% dark chocolate

Procedure: Wash and trim rhubarb. Roughly cut rhubarb into 1 1⁄2” pieces. Place in heavy bottom saucepot with cherries, wine, sugar and butter. Reduce to 2 cups add chocolate and purée with hand blender or mixer until smooth.

Shelf life: 3-4 days covered and refrigerated. If sauce appears too thick the second day, it may be thinned slightly with water.

Recipe from Executive Chef Jason Wilson, CRUSH

Copper River King Salmon “au Poivre” Morels/ Chermoula/ Coconut/ Lemon & Peas
Serves 4-6
Note: (This recipe uses modern molecular gastronomic cooking, with some of the ingredients available in specialty stores)

2 pounds Copper River king filet, portioned evenly into 5 oz pieces
2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Alaska pure sea salt
1 tsp. ground cubeb pepper
1 tsp fennel pollen
1 tbsp smoked ikura (salmon roe)
1/4 cup fine watercress and arugula greens

Procedures: Season the fish with the sea salt on all sides and reserve unrefrigerated for 15 minutes.

To cook: Simmer the olive oil for 1 minute and place the salmon in olive oil. Simmer another 10 seconds and remove from heat. Allow 20 minutes for the fish to cook.

To plate: Remove from oil and pat dry. Season with the pepper, fennel pollen, greens and finish with the smoked ikura.

(Yield: 1 cup)
20 each medium morel mushrooms, salt as needed
1.5 cups fresh peas
1/4 cup pea juice
10 leaves finely chopped lovage
5 leaves finely chopped mint
1 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon
1 tsp butter
3 tbsp vegetable stock

Procedure: Simmer the vegetable stock and half of the peas for 30 seconds. Add the lovage, mint, lemon and butter and simmer for 1 minute. Pour all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and velvety. Pass the puree through a strainer and serve warm with the remaining peas as garnish. Sauté the morels with salt and olive oil until all sides are golden brown, serve as garnish for the peas.

(This recipe uses molecular gastronomy cooking, using gelling agents)
(Yield: 1 cup)
100 g coconut milk
2 g Methocel F50 (Gelifying agent)
0.5 G Sosa Gelspuma Caliente (optional)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp chermoula spice
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp orange juice
1 tsp espelette pepper

Procedure: Simmer the coconut milk and all remaining ingredients with the hydrocolloids (Hydrocolloids are classified as either thickening or gelling agents) for 2 minutes. Blend everything until mixture is smooth. Bring mixture to a simmer then place the pot into an ice bath and cool until cooled to at least 60°F. Reheat mixture to a slight simmer and pour into a “creamer canister” to charge with two NO2 charges and serve. Garnish with drops of Noble XO vinegar.

Recipe from Executive Chef Wayne A. Johnson, Ray’s Boathouse

Grilled Copper River Salmon Grilled Spring Onion Salad and Rhubarb Vinaigrette
Serves 8

8 each Copper River salmon fillet block cut (4oz each)
4 lbs red spring onions
1⁄2 lb fennel
2 cups shaved Marcona almonds, ground

Procedure: Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper and a little oil. Place the fillets on the grill flesh side down on grill over medium high heat for 5-7 minute, and then flip to skin side and for another 5 minutes. Medium-rare is the desired temperature (if you desire your salmon more cooked, give a few more minutes on the grill). Allow salmon to rest 3 minutes before plating.

Prepare grill for onions and salmon. Cut off all but the top 3 inches of the top, discard top green of the onion. With the red bulb and 3 inch stem, split onion in half lengthwise, season with salt and pepper and a little olive oil, place on grill and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and toss with shaved fennel and almonds.

To plate: Plate the tossed onion salad in the center of the plate nice and high, then place the grilled salmon on top of the greens, then top the salmon with the vinaigrette. Add radish sprouts for garnish on top on salmon.

5 lbs rhubarb
2 Tbsp shallots
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp lovage
1⁄2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 cup canola oil
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄4 tsp pepper

Procedure: Juice rhubarb and add the juice with all other ingredients except for the oil. Blend ingredients really well and then slowly add oil to emulsify. Taste vinaigrette; adjust with the salt and pepper.


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