One Salmon Done Three Tasty Ways . . .

Skuna Bay salmon entrée from Telegraph. (Photos: Audarshia Townsend)

It's not every day chefs get the opportunity—or have the time!—to take a VIP trip to the farm from where their food originated. Yet Girl & The Goat’s Stephanie Izard tore herself away from her kitchen for a few days to visit Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to learn more about Skuna Bay’s craft-raised salmon.

The fish is North America’s only craft-raised salmon that’s harvested in small batches and then transferred to a local, family-owned processor. To maintain quality control, only six approved inspectors are allowed to handle the chosen salmon. Upon sealing the box and applying a signature to a traceable, tamper-proof seal, the inspectors send cartons immediately and directly to chefs; no one touches the fish again until the chef opens the box. Izard witnessed the process firsthand during her trip.

“What's cool about Skuna Bay is that once it gets processed, the ones that get called Skuna are only about six percent,” she said. “It’s been very carefully inspected and you get the best of the best.”

Izard added the salmon to her menu even before her trip because she said she was looking for something to replace a tuna entrée.

“We had been running a tuna dish that had similar flavors, but I just started doing more research on the population of tuna and it’s not very environmentally friendly to serve right now. We replaced the dish with the salmon. The nice meaty flavor of the lamb sausage was a nice combo with the fish, and you get a little bit of smokiness, which is unexpected.” (See a recipe below for the chimichurri sauce Izard created for the dish.)

Those bold flavors in the entrée worked especially well when paired with the Double Standard cocktail of Templeton Rye whiskey, Ransom Old Tom Gin, lemon and mint.

Girl & The Goat dish.

Over at Ceres’ Table, chef/owner Giuseppe Scurato pays homage to ramps in his Skuna Bay salmon dish. Ramps, the unique onions found only in the Chicago area, are made into a pesto as well as a garnish for the salmon, which is served skinless. Other components are English peas and wild mushrooms, and Scurato skillfully plays up the flavors in all of the ingredients without overshadowing the taste of the juicy salmon (See the recipe below).

The Patricia Green Cellars 2010 reserve pinot noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon, complemented this dish well.

New Logan Square sensation Telegraph offers the simplest preparation of the Skuna Bay salmon, with Executive Chef John Anderes searing the fish, then accenting it with Cannellini bean puree, lemon and capers. The simplicity of the dish allowed it to be paired well with the only “orange” wine by the glass: the 2009 Coenobium “Rusticum” from Lazio, Italy. The citrus in the bountiful Rusticum seamlessly worked well with the lemon, capers and organic salmon taste.

Skuna Bay salmon dishes may also be found at Ada Street, Fishbar, Maude’s Liquor Bar and Perennial Virant.

Ceres’ Table dish.

Ceres’ Table Skuna Bay Salmon


1/2 cup English peas (blanched)
1/2 cup Fava beans (blanched and peeled)
1 cup asparagus (cut on 1/2 inch bias)
8 oz assorted wild mushrooms
2 oz vegetable stock
1 oz. cold butter
Chopped herbs (optional)
Olive oil for sautéing
Salt and pepper to taste

In hot pan, sauté mushrooms in olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste; lightly caramelize. Add asparagus, sauté, then add vegetable stock. Add peas, Fava beans and optional herbs. Reduce stock by half and mount with cold butter.

Ramp Pesto

8-10 ramp shoots (blanch leaves and stems separately)
2 tablespoons walnuts (toasted and chopped)
1 clove garlic, minced
Honey to taste
2 oz olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

After blanching the ramps (first the white stems, then the green leaves since they the stems take a bit longer to blanch than the leaves), thoroughly dry. Finely chop ramps with walnuts and garlic. Place in mixing bowl. Add oil, honey, salt and pepper.


4 6 oz pieces of Skuna Bay Salmon, skinless
Olive oil for sautéing
Salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper salmon. In hot sauté pan, sear salmon until golden brown. Flip salmon, reduce heat; cook for three to four minutes for medium rare. Add a small amount of butter, and lightly baste for one minute.

Ramp Garnish

4 ramps, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill for garnishing.

Girl & The Goat’s chimichurri sauce


18 sprigs cilantro (trimmed of large stems)
6 sprigs parsley (trimmed of large stems)
2/3 cup loose sorrel (stemmed)
2/5 tbs lime juice
1/3 cup rice bran oil
1/8 cup pickled mustard seeds


Add lime juice and half of the oil to blender. Add herbs in small batches, pulsing to barely puree. Once all herbs have been incorporated, transfer to a bowl. Whisk in remaining oil and mustard seeds. Adjust seasoning with salt and maybe more lime juice.