Sunday, May 06, 2012

Snacking State-by-State: Oregon I - Soooo Much Salmon!

We now head back to the great Northwest, and a food region that I still know painfully little about despite the recipes I have made for this project - the cedar plank salmon, the huckleberry muffins, the river trout.  Oregon, as I am finding out, has all this stuff and more!

Official Name: State of Oregon
State Nicknames: The Beaver State
Admission to the US: February 14, 1859 (#33)
Capital: Salem (3rd largest)
Other Important Cities: Portland (largest), Eugene (2nd largest), Gresham (4th largest)
Region: Northwest, Pacific; Pacific (US Census)
RAFT NationsSalmonPinyon Nut
Bordered by: Washington and the Columbia River (north), Idaho (east), the Snake River (northeast), California & Nevada (south), the Pacific Ocean (west)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: beaver (animal, though they are generally no longer eaten), milk (beverage), Dungeness crab (crustacean), Chinook salmon (fish), Oregon grape (flower, bearing an indigenous fruit that was once gathered and eaten), pear (fruit), Pacific golden chanterelle (mushroom), hazelnut / filbert (nut - they're the same thing)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: Northwestern and Pacific foods, including: Pacific seafood (salmon, Dungeness crab, etc), hazelnuts, pears, marionberries (first grown in Oregon), huckleberries, blueberries; Portland is an epicenter of the American food truck industry

First of all, Oregon is famous in the food world as the birthplace of the legendary James Andrew Beard, born in Portland, having spent may a summer in Gearhart "fishing, gathering shellfish and wild berries, and cooking meals with whatever was caught" [World Culinary Institute, date unknown].  Though Beard spent his later years in New York City, and became perhaps one of the foremost authorities on American food, he always remained a champion of all foods Oregonian (also see Oregon Public Broadcasting's The Oregon Experience episode about James A Beard [2010], and the James A Beard Foundation biography of Beard [2012]).

So what were these foods from the Beaver State that Beard was weaned on?  So much, for example Pacific Northwest seafood, notably salmon, rockfish and Dungeness crab foremost among them.  Oregonians are about as crazy about their seafood as, well, we are, and the Dungeness crab is now more easily found on the East Coast than ever before.  More easily found is salmon from the Pacific coast.  Sure, Atlantic salmon is more widespread here, but for this next recipe that I found on the Oregon Food website,  It comes from Chef Brad Porges of Canyonville's Seven Feathers Casino & Resort.

I wanted to at least use the Pacific variety of salmon for this recipe, which also meshes together a few other ingredients that are common to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest: pears and hazelnuts, the latter being one of the major exports of Oregon.  And though it doesn't exactly call for it, I added huckleberries.

The Recipe: Hazelnut Salmon with Pear Compote

This recipe is actually "Hazelnut Salmon with Apple and Pear Compote".  However, I found out during the prep that the apple pictured below was mostly rotten inside.  Needless to say, I didn't make an apple and pear compote.

* salmon (Paciifc, preferably from Oregon; Pacific salmon, center cut, cost about $9 per lb.  The recipe calls for 2 lbs - that is, 32 oz - so I halved the recipe to make it less expensive),
* bread crumbs (had this on hand)
* hazelnuts (I bought two packages to be on the safe side, for a total of about $5. I ended up using about half a bag)
* salt and freshly ground black pepper (had 'em)
* egg yolk (same)

The following comprise the "compote" half of the recipe.  In this case, I made the whole recipe, so I could have more compote for my salmon:
* pear (Bosc in this case, about $1.30)
* apple (again, I didn't use this after all, since it was, y'know, nasty inside)
* cranberry juice (I did not have this on hand.  Strangely enough to me, a large bottle costs less at $2.80 than four small bottles at $4.99)
* dried cranberries (in this case, dried huckleberries, which I've had on hand since that muffin recipe from Idaho)
* brown sugar (had it)
* cinnamon (same)
* nutmeg (same too),
* corn starch and water (mix in equal parts and add during the cooking process)

First, chop the hazelnuts finely.  Or if that isn't enough...

...grind them in a spice grinder.  Dump them in a bowl.

Add to that the bread crumbs, egg yolk, salt and pepper and mix.

Coat the salmon with the hazelnut mixture.

Press the mixture into the flesh of the salmon, hopefully in a less half-assed way than I did it.  Put it in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 minutes.

While the salmon is in the oven, make your compote.  Mix the juice, dried berries, brown sugar and spices in a pot and boil together.

While that is coming to a boil, slice up your pear and apple.

Throw the pear and apple (or here, just the pear) into the pot.

Next add your corn starch and water mixture, slowly, and stir to thicken.

Let's ogle that salmon for a bit.  Oooooh yeah.  Bet that'd be good with some of that pear compote on top.

I thought this was a lovely dish, even though I had to discard the apple.  The sweetness of the compote goes well with the salmon, covered in hazelnut breading that just screams "Eat me.  Eat a lot of me."


Brooks, Karen.  "Portland's top 10 food carts".  Posted October 8, 2009 (The Oregonian), reposted August 6, 2011 (

Cuisine Bonne Femme & Dieselboi (blog authors).  "About" (About Page for Food Carts Portland".  Copyright 2012 Food Carts Portland, all rights reserved.

Lewis, Nancy (recipe author).  "Marionberry Cobbler".  Information page for the episode "A Cuisine of Our Own" from the television program Oregon Experience, 2010.  Copyright Oregon Public Radio 2010-2012, all rights reserved.

Mersinger, Monica.  "Marionberries: A Delicious Part of Salem's Past".  Salem Online History, 2006.  Copyright Salem Public Library, 2005-2006, all rights reserved.

Oregon Public Radio. "A Cuisine of Our Own".  Information page for the episode "A Cuisine of Our Own" from the television program Oregon Experience, 2010.  Copyright Oregon Public Radio 2010-2012, all rights reserved.

Porges, Brad.  "Hazelnut Salmon with Apple and Pear Compote".  Posted on the Oregon Food website, date unknown. Copyright Travel Oregon 2009-2012, all rights reserved.

Shouse, Heather.  Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels.  Random House: New York, 2011.

World Culinary Institute. "James Beard".  World Culinary Institute, date unknown. Copyright World Culinary Institute, all rights reserved.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Oregon" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Oregon".