Best Way To Cook Salmon

On one of my initial interviews to get a position as an Alaskan fishing guide, an early question was, “Do you know how to cook?” My answer was, “I can cook”.  Fortunately for me, my mother noticed my interest in cooking at an early age, bought me cook books and encouraged me to try new recipes. My grandma who is a master of cooking wild game and baking incredible bread also inspired me.

There was a reason for the question about my cooking skills. A guide may not need the abilities of a five-star chef, but fishing guides are often asked about how to prepare their catch of the day. As a Kenai River fishing guide, a frequent question I get is; “What is the best way to cook my sockeye (red) or coho (silver) salmon”?  I have a few favorites though sometimes my favorite recipe depends on the time of year and how much salmon I’ve eaten to date. I will painfully admit that my wife Stephanie Lesmeister is a far superior chef than I am when it comes to cooking the fresh caught or frozen salmon from the Kenai River.  I will make my next few blogs about our family’s favorite recipes and our two favorite brines which we use in preparation for smoking the  salmon.

Before I give you a recipe I will say the first couple fish of the year are grilled over charcoal – and occasionally alder – from the yard and cooked medium rare with a light sprinkle of sea salt.  That is it!  After our initial craving for the rich and simple taste of salmon is satisfied and salmon becomes a regular part of our diet, we start piling on the spices and sauces depending on our mood.

Salmon Burgers

2 pounds of Kenai River sockeye

3/4 cup panko crumbs

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

1tsp grated fresh ginger

1 clove of garlic minced

2 egg whites

3 Tbs soy sauce

Juice of half a lime

1/2 tsp salt


Mayo Wasabi

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbs wasabi paste

1 tsp soy sauce

Mix all the ingredients for your salmon burgers in a bowl then make round patties to size.  We use Hawaiian rolls for the smaller sized sliders, and brioche buns for magnum burgers. Heat the skillet and add avocado oil to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes per side.

As a bonus, we  pre-make and freeze burgers for me to cook for lunch.  When I make them for lunch I like to make wraps and add red onions and greens with the wasabi sauce and sometimes unagi sauce.

Stephanie found this recipe in the cookbook, The Alaska From Scratch Cookbook, and we have been eating these delicious burgers ever since.

Bon Apetit!

Shipping Fish

There is nothing as mouth watering as the smell of a wild caught salmon as it sits in a layer of sizzling oil. There’s nothing that gets the stomach rumbling like a big slab of wild caught salmon sitting over a bed of charcoal. It’s one of the main reasons anglers from all over the world come to Alaska. We have great salmon runs.

A question I get all the time is, how do I get my fresh Kenai River salmon home?

When you fish with Jason’s Guide Service we fillet any salmon you catch and keep.  After your day on the water we will direct you to a reputable fish processor who will vacuum pack your fish for you.  Once you have your fish packaged you have the option of paying the processor to freeze and store your fish, or you can bring them to where ever you are staying.

After you have packaged and frozen fish the best two options for transporting home is shipping through FedEx or bringing it home as luggage.  The FedEx option is great for people who are on the front end of their vacation and don’t want to travel with fish.  The luggage option is my favorite because it costs a lot less.

How much it costs exactly to ship salmon by Fed Ex, varies depending on weight.  The cost of bringing it home as luggage depends on what airline you fly and how many checked bags you have.  With a couple phone calls you should be able to come up with a ball park estimate of cost and budget it into your trip.

Once you get your fish home the only logistic left is making sure you don’t let the secret out that you have some Kenai River salmon on the menu or you may discover you have loads of close friends and neighbors who will just happen to arrive at your door around dinner time.