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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!

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Mile Marker 48, Cooper Landing, AK 99572
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Jason's Guide Service
Reviewed from Google

4.9 out of 5 stars

Ryan Wells
Ryan Wells

5 out of 5 stars

posted 3 days ago

We came ready to salmon fish. Focused only on salmon. Caleb gave us a straightforward assessment of the river from his morning trip. Talked us into fishing from the boat for both trout and salmon. Had a great four hour float. Caught over a dozen fish and even took some salmon home. Time of year and river conditions determined our day and Caleb maximized our time. Look forward to a full day trip earlier in the season next time.

Lisa Rohus
Lisa Rohus

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 week ago

Caleb was an amazing guide! He was very knowledgeable on where to get us on some trout! He was very helpful to me because I don’t fish very often. We hope to come back next year and plan to book another trip with them! Thanks so much for the top notch service!

J G (Big Gabes)
J G (Big Gabes)

5 out of 5 stars

posted 2 weeks ago

Jason and his crew were fantastic! They took us to the perfect spot for our group of 14 to quickly catch our limit of Sockeye Salmon. When the weather changed our original plan, he quickly made alternate arrangements and we had a great time. I would definitely use him again!

Phil Wagner
Phil Wagner

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 month ago

Caleb had us on the Trout even when they were a little hard to find! Always handy with a new lure or spot to try when things ran cold and we were right back on em. Great guide, great fishing. Don’t hesitate to book. Thanks so much!

Jared Warren
Jared Warren

5 out of 5 stars

posted 3 weeks ago

Caleb was a great guide! Jason was very good with communicating with our group before the trip. Had a good half day trout/char fishing!

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