Sept. 6, 2012 Salmon And The Old Cast Iron Skillet
Written By: Bill Adelman, September 7, 2012
Does anyone out there still use the old cast iron skillet? We had one and both of my grandparents used them for everything from fried chicken, (of course), to after church breakfast of fried spuds, bacon, ham or steak and eggs, topped off with ½ pound biscuits and jam, both homemade.
My family had no problem with me and my brothers cleaning up after a meal, doing dishes, folding the tablecloth and taking it outside to shake, sweeping the floor around the table, (the dog wasn’t allowed in the house), drying every utensil and plate and putting them in their proper place, but heaven forbid if we even looked like we would touch the cast iron skillet. A grandfather’s stare would freeze us in our tracks, wondering if we just messed up as far as getting homemade dessert was concerned.
Only the grandma’s touched that skillet…ever! It would be rinsed, not washed and never with soap, then quickly “cleaned” with a piece of burlap cloth and oil, wiped dry with a flour sack towel and then, and only then, be “seasoned” with cooking oil or Crisco and another piece of the flour sack towel. If so much as a drop of water was left on the skillet, it would rust up in moments. We didn’t even get to stay in the same room during this time honored event. And yes, that would be the same room that held the berry cobbler.
Growing up in my day was tough, really tough, save for every Friday. One of my grandmas lived across the street from grammar school and every Friday she made homemade donuts, deep fried in Crisco and only Crisco. The “holes” were cooked double time, making them so crispy I can still hear the crunch. There was no air in those treats.
So, all of this memory lane stuff has just what to do with salmon? Cooking it, that’s what. Above all else, season the skillet and have a perfectly fitting lid at hand. This isn’t going to be a recipe column as Paulette has that covered.
Do wonder though, how often she uses a cast iron skillet or pot. The salmon can be poached in white wine, fried in olive oil, (yes, you can still buy Crisco), lay slathered in a sauce of choice while simmering and even be baked with a light layer of hand rubbed mayonnaise adding to the flavor. It, the skillet, will still however, be very hot to the touch and extremely heavy.
The composer of this column bears no responsibility should one cause damage to their person, kitchen floor or the dog. For best stove top results, gas is the preferred method of cooking, electricity comes in a distant second and one of these new fangled glass top thingy’s should be outlawed from the face of the earth, or at least, your kitchen.
All of this information is but a precursor to the actual focus of our story, the fresh caught salmon. Please notice…fresh caught. Somehow unwrapping a pen raised fish with artificial coloring just doesn’t cut the mustard. Not sure though, can you still go to the docks and buy a salmon from the commercial fishing fleet as they return from a harrowing day at sea?
Right about now the Fall run should be in full gear in the Sacramento area and points north as the fish migrate upstream to their final resting place. It’s your choice if that particular place is on a gravel bed near Oroville or in your cast iron skillet. If the run is hot and heavy, you’ll launch at oh dark thirty and as you swing out into the river, will wonder where all these boats came from.
If the fishing lanes are clear enough, downstream trolling is often extremely productive. This is always a two angler job, sometimes three. The key to success here is the net man, or woman, while the boat is in a full drift mode. On one of my earlier trips this season, the boat about 75 yards directly upstream from my anchor hooked up. That salmon was so out of sorts that it swam right by our two Kwikfish and a spinner, only to grab the very next bait it saw.
It still almost survived, due to the netting process of the not hooked up angler. He kept trying to lift the bow of the net upstream, over the tail and against the flow, all the while standing above the hooked up angler and attempting the net job underneath him.
Always net with the downstream flow and wait until the perfect moment, then dip the net into the creek and over the head of the salmon in a single sweeping motion. The hooked up angler needs to hold the fish without lifting its head out of water during the sweep. Many anglers will lower the rod tip at this same moment, believing they are dropping the salmon into the net. Ain’t so. Whew!!!
Don’t take pictures with blood running down the side of the salmon, and when pics are done, bleed the fish by cutting all of the red gills and hang it in the river or place it in an ice filled chest. On the way home give some serious thought as to just where is that old, seasoned and hopefully not rusty skillet.
Next time there might be a few more thoughts regarding salmon, and we’ll certainly take a look at the almost here Feather River steelhead season. Seeya then and Tight Lines!!!