The arrival of Copper River salmon in May gets Seattleites delighted and excited because it means the kickoff of summer in the Northwest, the long-awaited joyous season of sunshine and blue skies for the next three months. Local grocery stores and restaurants start showcasing Cooper River salmon, known for its succulent texture and rich flavor. It’s pricey (although buying a whole fish can save you a lot of money) but definitely worth trying while it’s available (for season updates, see http://www.copperriversalmon.org/press-news). And even if you miss the opportunity to taste Copper River salmon, there is a wide variety of other wonderful kinds of salmon that can inspire you to cook numerous recipes through summer and into fall — from simple grilled fillets or steaks to super-fresh sashimi or sushi.
Now here is a great summery recipe that I love and highly recommend that you add to your salmon repertoire. Nanban Zuke is often made with small fish like Aji (Spanish mackerel), smelt, and sardine, and it works wonderfully with salmon as well. Fried salmon is marinated in sweet vinegar called Nanban zu along with fresh summer vegetables that add bright colors and flavor. You can serve it chilled as a refreshing appetizer on a hot summer evening. I hope there will be many occasions on which you can make Nanban Zuke, the perfect addition to your dinner menus this summer.
In Japanese home cooking, Abura-age (fried beancurd ) is a very popular ingredient. It’s basically a deep fried sliced tofu and available at any Asian grocery stores these days (at least in Seattle area). Typical recipes using abura-age include miso soup, rice dishes and Inarizushi (sushi stuffed sweeten abura age), but you can easily substitute meat products with abura age because of its rich and satisfying flavor and texture.
Here is one dish I often make especially when I get fresh Komatsuna at the farmers market (@ Taki farm). It’s easy to make, lasts for several days in the fridge, and of course very tasty 😀