The Deconstructed Sushi Roll

This recipe has all the elements of a salmon sushi roll, but it is served in a bowl instead of a cylinder.  All the ingredients are chopped and assembled on top of the rice.  Unfortunately I can’t take credit for this invention, it’s called Chirashi, which means “scattered” in Japanese.  Traditionally it is made with sashimi (raw fish), but I make it with cooked salmon, or even canned salmon if I want a quick lunch.

This last time I made chirashi, I used leftover salmon from the night before, which I had glazed with soy sauce and brown sugar.  Here is my recipe for the salmon…

Soy Glazed Salmon

2 lb fillet of salmon, skin on

1/4 cup of soy sauce

1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

2 TBSP olive oil

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.  Place salmon, skin side down, in a shallow baking dish (do yourself a favor and put a layer of foil down first or you will be scraping that pan for a week!) Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil and pepper in a small bowl, then pour over salmon, making sure to coat all of the fish.  Bake the salmon in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes or until opaque all the way through.

As I said, I cooked this salmon for dinner the night before and used the leftovers for the chirashi the next day.  The whole point of the chirashi is that it is quick and easy, so feel free to use canned sockeye salmon.

Simple Salmon Chirashi Recipe

Photo: Leo Gong; Styling: Robyn Valarik

Get the original recipe from

Simple Chirashi

1 lb of cooked salmon skin removed, or canned sockeye drained

1 cup of (dry) white rice, cook it according to directions on package

1 cup sliced cucumber

1 cup cubed avacado

1/2 cup chopped green onions

4 small sheets of seaweed ( I use Trader Joes seaweed snacks, 99¢ a pack) torn into small pieces

2 TBSP sesame seeds

1/4 cup soy sauce (I like reduced sodium soy sauce)

2 TBSP rice vinegar

2 TBSP wasabi powder

1/2 tsp sesame oil

Divide the cooked rice between 4 bowls.  Divide the salmon into 4 servings and place a piece on top of each bowl of rice.  Arrange cucumber, avacado, green onion, seaweed, and sesame seeds on rice with the salmon.  Make the dressing by mixing soy sauce, rice vinegar, wasabi powder and sesame oil and drizzling it over each bowl.

I like to mix everything in my bowl together, but my kids like to keep everything separate and eat each piece individually.  However you eat yours – enjoy!

Eat More Seafood Part 2: You Can Afford It!

In my post, “Eat More Seafood Part 1: What to Buy”, I gave some shopping advice for finding the most sustainable and healthy seafood available.  Now I will give some tips on working seafood into your shopping list and shopping budget.  A reader recently commented , “My gut feeling is that people don’t eat enough fish because they HAVEN’T eaten much fish. It’s just not part of their dietary vernacular.” (read her full comment under my Eat Seafood page in the top bar of this page)

In order for us to eat seafood more regularly, we first need to change the way we perceive it.  Even with a fisherman for a husband and a freezer full of fish, I still tend to think of seafood as a “special occasion food” instead of an “every day food.”  I have to force myself to thaw out a fillet for lunch instead of saving it for when we have guests for dinner. Seafood doesn’t have to be a luxury food and it doesn’t have to be expensive either.

FROZEN OR CANNED:  Of course availability and prices vary greatly depending on what area of the country you live.  If you live on one of the coasts, you probably have access to fresh local seafood.  But no matter where you live, if you are on a budget, buy it frozen or canned.  Seafood is usually processed right off the docks, so chances are the frozen or canned stuff is fresher than some of the “fresh” stuff on display at the seafood counter anyway.

File:LittleNeck clams USDA96c1862.jpg

VARIETIES: I was checking out the frozen seafood at my local grocery store yesterday and spotted bags of fillets of cod and tilapia.  Both were cheap, and both are sustainable.  Some other cheap choices are rockfish, rainbow trout, squid, pollock, clams (live or canned), mussels, canned salmon, canned tunacatfish, sardines, herring… I’ll stop there.  Just compare the cheap options at the store with your sustainable seafood guide of choice to make sure you aren’t supporting bad fishing or farming practices.

SOURCES: I’d recommend checking out any local seafood markets first, but if you don’t have any in your area, Trader Joe’s has a good selection of frozen and canned seafood (just bring along your pocket guides, because a lot of their seafood is NOT sustainable).  If you have COSTCO stores in your area, they are another good option, and they just pledged to only sell sustainable seafood!  I also just read that Safeway is starting a sustainable seafood program, with all sustainable seafood by 2015.  Whole Foods Markets are also a good choice for buying quality sustainable seafood, but you might have to pay a little more.  You can also order seafood online, like canned wild Alaska salmon from

SUBSTITUTION: Seafood is a protein.  Think of it the same way you think of chicken or beef or pork.  You probably have some type of meat on your grocery list, so switch out one type of meat for some type of seafood.  If you usually purchase pork chops, instead buy a fillet of cod.  Buy some squid (calamari) to go on your spaghetti instead of meatballs.  Top your caesar salad with a can of salmon instead of grilled chicken.  Don’t think of it as adding on to your grocery list, think of it as substituting.  I guarantee that you will feel healthier, your budget shouldn’t be affected, and you will have  peace of mind knowing that you are eating a super-healthy, sustainable protein that was NOT raised on a crowded feed lot.

♦My next and last post in this little series will be advice for making quick, simple meals with the seafood you bring home.  I’ll share some of the recipes I make for my family on a regular basis, and if anyone else out there has any recipe ideas for this next post, please share!♦

Peace and Salmon

This time of year, in the Pacific Northwest, sunny days are few and far between.  We take advantage of them when they come, which is why Zed took the afternoon off from rigging crab pots and took the kids on a hike.  As a result, I got the afternoon off from the kids and took advantage of the weather by sitting in a patch of sun, on the couch by the window, with a cup of coffee.  Even more rare than sunshine in this house is quiet, so I took advantage of that too.  Sun+coffee+magazine+quiet=heaven!

Then I actually had time to make a leisurely dinner of sockeye salmon, baking it slowly in the oven (at 250 degrees F) with a pan of water under it.  I frequently overcook salmon (it happens so fast!) and it ends up really dry, but this method keeps the salmon moist and soft.  As a salmon topping, I like to mix butter with lemon zest, mustard, dill and capers, and a little salt and pepper.  When the salmon comes out of the oven, put a chunk of the butter mixture on top and it melts all over the fish like a sauce.  It has become one of my favorite ways to do salmon.

A quiet afternoon, followed by a nice dinner…  it’s been a good day.


Thanks to Thom McLaughlin for the water pan salmon method.  Thanks to Martha for the original recipe for the butter:

Tis the season for soups

It is definitely winter now.  Here in Bellingham it is above freezing most days, but the constant rain makes it feel colder.  And it makes me want soup!  The nice thing about soup is that it is very forgiving.  You don’t need to get the measurements just right, you can leave out anything you don’t like, and add anything you can’t live without.

Here is another easy recipe from using canned salmon.  I like to add frozen corn or peas at the end because my kids like it, but feel free to personalize it however you like…

I just keep telling myself, in another week the days will start getting longer, so hang in there!

Easy Salmon Chowder

Switching to winter fare, this is a wonderful and easy chowder.  You can make extra soup base (not including the milk or seafood) and freeze it for an extra easy meal later on.  Incidentally, buying clam juice in 48 oz institutional sizes is a bargain.

Saute in a large soup pot until onions are soft.

1 TBSP butter

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

When onions are soft, add roux (1 TBSP flour mixed with 1 TBSP melted butter)

Add the following and cook until potatoes are tender, keep pot at a steady simmer, but not boiling;

4 cups of clam juice

2 cups of water

3 or 4 cups of potatoes, scrubbed and cubed, with skin on

2 medium carrots, diced

1/3 cup dried potato flakes

2 TBSP finely chopped parsley

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried tarragon

Salt &pepper to taste

Add and warm to serving temperature, but do not heat to boiling!

1 pint of half & half or 1 can of evaporated milk (We use evaporated milk on the boat.)

2 -7.5 oz cans of  Redhead and/or Thinkpink, undrained, as is, in chunks

Serve with crackers and bread and a tossed salad. Yumm.


My Discussion with a Salmon Farmer

A little while back I wrote a post about sea lice infestations in salmon farms, with my main point being that open-net salmon pens can (probably) never work out environmentally, and that the only safe solution is to improve the on-land closed containment systems.

A couple weeks ago, a salmon farmer from BC posted a comment in reply to my sea lice post, claiming I needed to do more research.  I was willing to hear him out, so I investigated his claims, read his blogs, and various articles by salmon farming proponents.  I wasn’t convinced, so we debated back and forth for a few days.  Here is our unedited conversation…

  1. obominog says:

    Well it seems you didnt read the comments on that CBC News article. I also noted one of the colleagues mentioned was Alexandra Morton (= Bad science)! Its seems she will do anything she can to get her way including taking information she wants from research articles and excluding anything that dissagrees with what she is trying to accomplish. I’ve been a fish farmer for many years. I care about the environment as much as any other person. I won’t push my views on anyone, but instead ask that you become informed and make your own decisions. I won’t pretend to know everything about salmon farming, there is alot to know and even more to discover. One quote that comes to mind from the great Jacques Cousteau is “We must plant the sea and herd its animals using the sea as farmers instead of hunters. That is what civilization is all about – farming replacing hunting.”
    Click this link If you would like to know more about fish farming .

    • Thanks for your comment. I also try not to think in absolutes, so I am open to learning more about salmon farming. I read some of your blog and some of the linked articles and it’s all very interesting. I like your detailed descriptions of fish farming and you have beautiful photos!
      Although my family’s livelihood depends upon commercial fishing, my concerns with fish farming are not competitive. I see many problems in the open pen system of fish farming, including sea lice infestations. I don’t doubt that there could be flaws with some of the studies done on sea lice and wild salmon populations (most scientists are biased one way or the other), however, I have seen enough evidence to convince me that fish farms could endanger wild populations and that is too serious of a risk to gamble with.
      My other concerns with farmed salmon are the quantity and quality of fish meal they are fed, antibiotics and pesticides they are treated with, and dye they are colored with. All of this leads to what I see as an inferior product. I choose not to eat farmed salmon for these reasons. That said, the science of fish farming is young and I hope that over time, the industry can become healthier and more sustainable.
      I would be interested to hear what your personal experiences have been with sea lice. Do you have problems with them on your farm? How are they dealt with?
      And in response to the quote by Cousteau, I hope farming doesn’t replace hunting entirely. I see nothing wrong with commercial fishing when it is well managed. Alaska is a great example of excellently managed fisheries that are monitored closely for any signs of strain on the ecosystem. In an ideal world, hunting and farming could coexist in a sustainable manner.
      Thanks again for your perspective.

      • obominog says:

        I wouldn’t want your family’s livelihood to degrade because I think the wild stocks are in danger. But you have to look at the big picture, the wild stocks are in danger because of many aspects, including commercial fishing. Yes I agree there are problems with open pen farming. These issues are being dealt with as best as possible and I see an improvement every year. The Canadian fish farming industry is one of the most regulated industries in Canada. The company I work for follows all regulations and then some. In fact I believe our company is an industry leader. Always brainstorming to improve farming salmon. I don’t think it is fair for anyone to blame anyone else on the state of wildstock. I think governments have a hard time managing fisheries in the ocean. Lets say the Alaskan fishery thinks the return on salmon is going to be 30 million. Therefore they open the fishery to take a percentage of it. The salmon then go to sea and while at sea something drastic happens, like another Country fishing in international waters, takes the same percentage. Then a sea lion pack hits the same school of salmon. The media would blame the Alaskan fishery for taking too many salmon. This is just an example of things that could happen. As for sea lice at our farm, I have never seen even smolts die due to sea lice. Sea lice have existed with salmon since long before humans were aware of them. We do lice samples every month and the numbers this year are at an all time low. I am going to write an article on sea lice this week. If you would like to know more, please post a comment on my blog at
        As far as antibiotics, pesticides and that sort, our fish get tested before they leave the farm, the processing plant and at international borders. Either they pass inspection or they get tossed out. Can’t say we know much about what the wild stocks eat. International waters on the ocean get very polluted due to no regulation. For instance, large fuel cargo ships cleaning out tanks. We control what are salmon get, can’t control what the wildstock gets. Just something to ponder.

      • To continue our discussion, I do have some more questions about salmon farming… I’m happy to hear your sea lice levels are low, that is good news for everyone! I would like to know about the fish meal you feed the salmon. What is it made from, where does it come from? From everything I have read, the fish meal and fish oils that are fed to farmed salmon come mostly from wild-caught fish. The statistics I keep coming across are that it takes about 2-4 lbs of wild fish to make 1 lb of farmed salmon. World Wildlife Fund reports “Fish caught to make fishmeal and oil currently represent one-third of the global fish harvest.”
        You stated in your comment on my blog that we don’t know/can’t control what wild fish are eating especially in polluted international waters, but we can control what the farmed fish eat. Well it seems that your farmed fish are eating the wild fish, which you claim are exposed to pollution in the oceans. According to my understanding of biology, when one animal consumes another, the contaminants (pesticides, mercury, etc) that are stored in the fatty cells of the one animal are transferred to the fatty cells of the second animal, where they are stored. For every creature that is consumed, the levels of contaminants in the predator are compounded. This is why wild salmon, which eat low on the food chain, are usually very low in contaminants like mercury. Sockeye salmon live almost entirely on zooplankton and shrimp like creatures (the red krill give them the red hue of their flesh) making them very low on the food chain. Other species of salmon eat some small fish, but they are still relatively low on the food chain.
        When farmed salmon are fed a diet of other fish (of all species and sizes), the contaminants from the fatty cells of these fish are then transferred to the tissue of the farmed fish. Thus the levels of contaminants in farmed fish are usually found to be higher than in wild fish. Here is an example of one study that finds significantly higher levels of toxins such as PCBs, dioxins, dieldrin, and toxaphene,
        Here is a report questioning the safety of farmed fish, I know scientists have been working to find an alternative to fish meal and oil as feed for farmed salmon, but as far as I know, no significant progress has been made.
        What is your take on the fish meal dependence issue? Do you know of any alternatives for salmon feed?
        Once again, thanks for being willing to discuss these issues with me, it’s all very interesting!

        As per his request, I posted the last comment on his blog.  Instead of posting the whole comment, he deleted my supporting evidence and posted an edited version…  then replied with this…

        • obominog
          You really have to watch what you read on the internet these days. Especially when it is a debatable subject. You can find any answer you are looking for whether it is right or wrong. Also it is hard to tell how old some articles are. Here is an article I found on alternatives to fish meal.

          Take what you will from it, just know that truth is whatever you believe in and can be viewed differently by everyone.

          Obominog also sent me an email at this point apologizing for editing my comment and stating that he did not wish to continue our debate in public (only in email).  He didn’t want his readers to be influenced by the sources and studies I quoted.  He was very polite, but basically dismissed all the evidence I provided, claiming that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet… and this is where our discussion ended.

          Yesterday in the news, it was announced that the BC Salmon Farmers’ Association will be forced to make public all data, from 120 salmon farms, on sea lice infestation, diseases, stocking and mortality for the last 10 years.  Needless to say, it will be interesting to see the results…

Salmon Coleslaw Recipe

This is a great recipe from using canned salmon.  Quick and easy and really healthy.  The Pure Alaska Salmon website has lots of other recipes using canned salmon, plus nutritional information, and info on fishing practices.

Shirley and Jim Zuanich own the company and are good friends of mine.  Jim is a life-long commercial fisherman and Shirley runs the company, selling their canned salmon to stores all over the country, including Whole Foods.  Shirley is an awesome friend to have because she knows firsthand how bloody difficult it is raising kids with a fishing husband.  Two seems impossible to me sometimes, but she did it with three kids and survived!

So this a Zuanich family recipe that originally called for shrimp, but canned salmon can be substituted beautifully.

Irma Beulah’s Salmon Coleslaw


  • 4 cups green cabbage, chopped fine, not grated
  • 1 – 7.5 oz can Redhead or Thinkpink, canned wild salmon, chunked
  • 1 green pepper, chopped fine
  • 4 green onions, chopped fine including green part
  • 1/2 can of black olives sliced
  • 6 sliced radishes, if desired


  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 TBSP white vinegar
  • 2 tsp white sugar

Mix and toss into salad, chill and serve.

Eat Smart: Shop Responsibly

I hate to sound preachy, but…   your consumption choices can make a difference!  Buy sustainable seafood. Don’t be embarrassed to ask a waiter or chef if the fish on the menu is wild or farmed. It lets the business know that customers care one way or the other.  Download a seafood watch cheat-sheet that fits in your wallet or a cell phone app from that tells which seafoods from which areas are caught or farmed in a sustainable manner.  They even have a sushi guide!

Now I have to rant for a moment about farmed salmon…  DON’T BUY IT!  There are too many reasons why farmed salmon is an abomination, so I’ll just list a few.

-the fish are fed a diet of fish meals and oils which make them fattier than wild salmon, but lower in protein.  Eating other fish also concentrates contaminants and makes the salmon more carcinogenic (wild salmon eat mostly krill, not other fish).

-the fish are treated with antibiotics and pesticides

-off shore salmon pens contaminate wild salmon runs with diseases and sea lice infestations (which have become epidemic in salmon farms).  Also, salmon frequently escape from their pens, further contaminating the wild salmon.

-farmed salmon are dyed orange.  Wild salmon’s flesh is orange or red because its natural diet consists of pink krill.  Farmed salmon flesh is naturally grey colored because of its fish meal diet and must be dyed orange to appeal to customers.  (BC Salmon Farmers Association says their salmon is not “dyed”, but fed pigment in the fish meal feed)

I’ll just stop there for now.  I think you get the picture.

(I just have to add that this post is dedicated to my husband, who is a commercial fisherman, and who hates farmed salmon with a passion.  He likes to remind me of the time we were on vacation and ordered an all you can eat sushi dinner.  He could tell that the salmon on the platter was farmed, and refused to touch it.  I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I ate it and became so violently ill with food poisoning that I had to go to the hospital.  Of course he blames the farmed salmon, because it was the only thing on the platter he didn’t eat and he was fine.)