Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Soups, Salads & Starters
Any one of these first-course recipes offers a substantial amount of food, enough to begin a traditional dinner or to enjoy with cocktails. But nowadays, the Northwest dining trend is toward smaller meals, and by combining two or three of these dishes, you will have put together a satisfying repast. Pair the Fresh Pea Soup with Crab and Mint with the Poached Egg and Chanterelle Salad, or try the Spicy Cumin Walnuts, Matsutake and Napa Cabbage Pot Stickers, and the Peppered Salmon Trout and Plum Salad. The combinations as many and varied, and the wealth of tastes sparkles on the palate. But best of all, the dishes celebrate a parade of wonderful Northwest ingredients.
The smelt is a small, slender fish about the size of an anchovy. In the late spring, huge smelts surge up the Columbia River to spawn. Local fishermen use dip nets to scoop up the sweet, silvery fish, while savvy cooks fire up their grills in anticipation of a good catch.
1. Prepare a hot fire on a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas or electric grill.
2. To clean each smelt, pinch the gills on both sides of the head and pull. (This will pull out the gills and innards. Alternatively, snap back the head and pull it off with the gills and innards.) Rinse the fish inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle all the fish evenly on both sides with the salt.
3. To make the mayonnaise, in a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
4. Oil a large grill basket or 2 smaller baskets and arrange the smelts in the basket(s). (If you do not have grill baskets, generously oil the grill rack.) Place the smelts over the fire and grill; turning until lightly browned and crisp, about two minutes o each side.
5. Transfer the smelts to a warmed platter or individual plates and sprinkle with the green onion. Pass the mayonnaise at the table.