Cured salmon for a tasty New England chowder

By Jim Bailey

Imagine yourself on a three- to four-month voyage toYankee Chef logo a land you have never been to on a ship with the barest of essentials during the 17th century. You eat well of fresh meats, cheeses, breads and such for the first month, maybe month and a half. Then your diet is mostly salted meats and fish.

You notice one morning that your teeth are loosening up, you are exhausted, sores appear on your body (taking many days to heal), your skin is flaking off and your hair is dry and brittle. The captain and mates tell you you have contracted scurvy. In between your meals of salted viands, you are given tart, mouth puckering lemons to alleviate the symptoms of scurvy. Doesn’t sound like a great diet, huh? That’s what happened to thousands of people who came to New England, and beyond, in the centuries leading to better diets aboard ship.

Curing was once a way of making food last on these long voyages. We now have our choice of curing or not and I think you will find the Yankee curing method below to be quite tasty and perfect for this New England chowder. Of course, if you want, suck on a lemon afterward.

Yankee Cured Salmon Chowder

Everywhere you look in the media, salmon is being baked, roasted and cured in a bed of salt. To me, it always lacked something. Why not prepare salmon using another New England ingredient? So here is a Yankee cure that mixes salty and sweet, with the resulting salmon perfect for whatever you want to do with it, including this New England original chowder.

A steaming bowl of Yanked salmon chowder.

A steaming bowl of Yanked salmon chowder.

The addition of other Yankee ingredients will not only remind you of the Northeast but will blend so well with the flavor of salmon. By the way, to spare you some expense, you can simply substitute canned salmon here as well. Make sure you pick all the bones and skin out first and add at the very end.

2 4-ounce boneless, skinless salmon fillets
3/4 cup coarse salt
3/4 cups maple syrup
Pinch black pepper
2 slices bacon, diced small
1/2 small red onion, diced small
2 medium-sized red potatoes, unpeeled and diced
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup whole kernel corn
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine coarse salt, maple syrup and black pepper. Coat both fillets and pack well. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Remove from fridge and rinse under cold running water well. Place on greased or parchment-lined baking tray and roast at 350-degrees F until just done, 10-12 minutes. Set aside.

Boil potatoes until tender. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, saute bacon over medium-high heat in a deep saucepan until done but not crisp. Add onions, cook and stir another 2 minutes.  Add potatoes, peas, corn, broth and heavy cream. Reduce heat to medium-low and bring to scalding, stirring frequently. Chop salmon into bite-sized pieces and gently stir into chowder. Season to taste and add another tablespoon butter to melt into chowder if desired.

For thicker chowder, simply melt 3 tablespoons butter and whisk in 2 tablespoons flour until smooth. Stir this into the chowder before adding salmon. Serve hot with a cornbread wedge.

Yankee Chef book coverSchiffer Books of Pennsylvania is releasing Jim Bailey’s new book The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen. It contains more than 550 traditional New England comfort-food recipes tweaked for today’s palates with hundreds of kitchen tips and food facts. The hardback book is 312 pages and contains 200 color images. Its ISBN is 978-0-7643-4191-5 and the cost is $34.99. The book can be ordered through Misty Valley Books, 802-875-3400.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at

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