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Cutting apart a salmon is dissecting a miracle. It is a marvel to behold. Deep, rose-hued flesh, dense and muscular, coated in healthy fat. A salmon returning to its stream is pure willpower. And there is nothing better for morale, no food that lifts spirits, tickles the kundalini, hits the umami pleasure center, or exemplifies the perfection of the universe like wild salmon.
A California king salmon can be a glorious centerpiece of celebration. Visit this KQED post to learn how to grill and serve a whole salmon.
Or you can break it down and express your culinary creativity in many different ways. Make Salmon SPAM with the head, bellies, and collars; crisp the skin for salmon “bacon” and use it for Bibimbop rice bowls; then dry the bones, grind, and mix with salt for an umami-rich seasoning. You can also smoke the bones to make a fumé broth, and create a salmon-corn chowder with the spoon meat, the delicate meat along the spine. Make rillettes with the trim. The fillets are fabulous cooked almost any way. Try a cedar plank, or make gravlax with them. You can also freeze sections and use later for sushi.
By using the whole salmon, we can really honor this special fish, and the ocean and rivers that it connects us to. For more ideas and information, you can download Maria Finn’s book, The Whole Fish, published by TED Books.