Salmon Chowder

Photo of ingredients to make Salmon Chowder

Books Of Life
I am a bookworm. I love everything about books. I like to read them. I like the smell of them. And, anytime I get to be in a room with a lot of books I feel centered.

For that reason, it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite places in the whole wide world is Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregon. Anytime I find myself in Portland for either work or leisure, I try to carve out just a little bit of time to go to Powell’s.

To be fair, anywhere I go, I somehow end up in a bookstore whether I plan it or not. And, without fail, I will find myself in the cooking section of said bookstore because my addiction to books most vividly manifests itself in my cookbook collection. Cookbooks are my favorite souvenirs. To me, the best way to remind yourself about a place, its people, and its culture, is through its food.

I have spent a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest during my lifetime, so I don’t need more souvenirs when I visit. But, I almost always find something new at Powell’s. One of my best finds was a book by Naomi Tomky called The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook. The title of the book sounds pretty straightforward. But, it is an excellent collection of recipes that teaches the reader some interesting ways of cooking the amazing variety of fish and shellfish that come from the waters off of the coast of Washington and Oregon.

One of my favorites is this Salmon Chowder which is super easy to make for a midweek dinner. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a clam chowder that has substituted the salmon. This recipe is more of a very fish-forward, thick stew with great flavors that will transport you north.

Salmon Chowder Recipe
Yields 2 to 4 servings
Adapted from The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook by Naomi Tomky

4 ounces bacon
2 celery ribs
1 leek, white parts only
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon flour
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
1/2 pound salmon
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream
Zest of 1 lemon
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup parsley (optional)

Prep the ingredients
Chop the bacon. Chop the celery and leek. Dice the potatoes. Remove the skin and debone the salmon and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Zest the lemon and chop the parsley

Cook the bacon
In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until most of the fat has rendered and the pieces begin to crisp (about 8 minutes). Add the celery, leek, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes).

Add the potatoes and herbs
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, stirring to make sure there are no clumps, then add the potatoes, stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Lower the heat and let simmer until the potatoes begin to soften (about 10 minutes). You should be able to pierce the potatoes easily with a fork. If not, keep simmering for a few more minutes.

Add the salmon
Add the salmon and mustard, and allow to cook until the salmon is fully opaque (about 3 to 5 minutes). Turn off the heat, and stir in the cream and lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with parsley and serve.

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