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the need to decompress

Recipe: teriyaki salmon collar (or fillet)

In my undergraduate years at Caltech, there was a weekend between the end of classes and the start of finals each quarter. It was officially referred to as Decompression – a time when the student association would host a free barbecue and entertainment (the improv groups were my favorites) on Friday and Saturday nights for the entire campus. I volunteered at the grill many many times, serving burgers and hot dogs to my fellow students and earning a free Decompression t-shirt with a different design each quarter.

Even though I haven’t been in school for eons, I still look to that weekend wedged between classes and finals as “decompression” because Jeremy’s schedule is tied to the academic calendar. This past weekend was THAT weekend. It also marked the end of a pretty stress-filled April with all manner of work deadlines, travel, business matters, and headaches courtesy of people who can’t seem to do their jobs (airlines come to mind). So this weekend was one in which we could take a breather, focus on things that needed attention, and be thankful for a quiet couple of days in which we regrouped and made plans for the next few months.

it also meant spending time with this little girl

Despite the frenetic pace of the past several weeks, we have noticed that Kaweah seems to walk further and stronger in the mornings than she does in the afternoons or evenings. We’ve only started her on morning walks since the weather has warmed a few weeks ago, but this change has been a nice improvement in her overall mobility and general well-being. And when she wants to dawdle and sniff every last mother-loving blade of grass, I let her. She is definitely growing more deaf and sleeping more, but she remains our sweet, dumb, cuddly pup. We’ve also noticed that she no longer stands at the baby gate with her head cocked to the side when we head out the door with our packs and gear. She just lies down on her bagel bed and takes a nap.

there’s still good snow in the high country

climbing up

skiing out

Jeremy and I went to check out the snow coverage in the high country on Sunday. It was partly cloudy with stormy clouds swirling over the high peaks. We were snowed on (yay!) and it was surprisingly quiet for a weekend. Fresh air and exercise was just the right medicine. When we got home, I made chile-lime-beer beef enchiladas. But I had to fight the urge to head to Boulder for sushi. We always crave sushi after skiing. It’s not sushi per se, but goodies from the kitchen like tempura or miso soup or one of my favorites: salmon collar (sake kama). I always get mine teriyaki-style. Making it at home has been one of those things nagging at me for years. Last week, I asked at the Whole Foods seafood counter if they had salmon collar. And they did!

four collars

i also picked up some nice sockeye salmon fillet to teriyaki

to make teriyaki: mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar

Whenever I’ve had salmon collar in Japanese restaurants, it’s pretty small and makes for a nice appetizer. The young man helping me at the seafood counter gave me incredibly generous portions. In fact, I think he included as much as a decent-sized steak with each collar and charged me the ridiculously reduced rate for “fish bones”. I know some of you are thinking that the collar is the part you throw out – but it’s not! It’s the fatty, flavorful, tender, amazingly delicate part of the fish. Unfortunately, they only had collars from arctic farm-raised salmon because that’s all they had whole. As a rule, I purchase wild-caught, but I made an exception this once. I’m sure the wild caught salmon will start coming in whole as soon as the season ramps up. If you can’t deal with or can’t acquire salmon collar, you can easily do this recipe with salmon fillets or steaks instead.

mixing the teriyaki marinade

place the collars in a ziploc bag

if you are doing fillets, place the slices in a ziploc bag

It’s a simple and quick process. Combine the teriyaki marinade ingredients and boil until the sugar dissolves. Let the marinade cool completely or else you’ll start inadvertently cooking the fish. Marinate the fish for a few hours.

pour the marinade over the fish

remove the fish from the teriyaki marinade

reduce the marinade by half

I let my fish sit in the refrigerator marinating for four hours. Remove the fish to a plate and pour the marinade into a saucepan. You should simmer the sauce down to about half of its volume. This will take around 15 minutes. When the teriyaki sauce has reduced, get your grill ready. Grill the fish on both sides and baste with the teriyaki sauce. I let the collars go a little longer since the steaks that were attached to them were pretty thick. I think in the future, if the collars are this large, I will cut them in half which also makes handling them on the grill less susceptible to breakage.

baste the fish as it cooks on the grill

teriyaki salmon fillets

teriyaki salmon collars

You don’t have to grill, you can pan fry instead. I tend to prefer the ease of clean-up of the grilling method as well as keeping the fish smells outside. The fillets wound up a little overdone because I was spending too much time wrangling the collars on the grill, but the fillets still came out nicely. The collars were actually cooked to perfection – ever so tender and juicy. Jeremy and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to prepare this mouth-watering dish. And it’s an inexpensive way to enjoy what I consider one of the best parts of the fish!

serve with teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, and green onions

Teriyaki Salmon Collar (or Fillets)
[print recipe]
based on this recipe from Saveur

3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin
6 tbsps sake
1/4 cup sugar
24 oz. salmon collar (2-4 depending on size of salmon and cut of collar) or 6 4 oz. fillets
2 green onions, sliced
2 tsps toasted sesame seeds

Place the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Put the salmon and marinade in a ziploc bag. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove the salmon from the marinade to a plate. Pour the marinade into the saucepan and boil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the teriyaki sauce has reduced its volume by half. This should take about 15 minutes. Get your grill ready on medium-low heat. Grill the salmon for about 4-5 minutes a side, basting with the teriyaki sauce, until done. Serve with more teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, and green onions. Serves 4.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

tora no maki grilled salmon panang blackened salmon sandwich black cod with miso

14 nibbles at “the need to decompress”

  1. Bev says:

    Great post! I was wondering, are the salmon collars here actually arctic char?

  2. Christine says:

    Kaweah still has such a puppy face! Such a sweet girl.

    I’ve been craving salmon lately, and this looks perfect! I’ll have to ask my fishmonger about the collars. I used to buy whole salmon all the time in college to save money. I would have them cut into steaks, but I think I would just cut off the fin ends and those meaty/fatty bits myself. What a fail.

  3. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    i love teriyaki salmon.

    kaweah is darling…

  4. farmerpam says:

    I love the black and white photo of Kaweah. Too cute, thanks for the smile first thing in the a.m.

  5. Cindi says:

    I love salmon so much – yours looks beyond delish! Oh sweet Kaweah – I have one who has to sniff every blade of grass, every snowflake, too. I’ve learned patience but I never get my cardio anymore. ;-)

  6. marissa says:

    Himachi kamma is my favorite!! Happy cooking

  7. Pey-Lih says:

    These next 2 weeks are finals for me….hiding under a rock but will be thinking of food.

  8. Jane M says:

    Sadly we had to put our dog down last week. He was 16 3/4 and was the greatest dog. Saw us thru good times and bad. He too was deaf and his eye site not so good. But boy when he took a turn for the worse he went quick. Only my 3rd dog in 48 years. I’m taking a MUCH needed breather. I can’t take the endings.

  9. Margie says:

    OMG! Awesomeness never smelled so good (Yes, I still have ‘Smell-O-Vision’ installed.) ;)

    I have missed so many of your posts, but I’m heading back into the world of Blog-Luv, slowly, but surely.

    Kiss that beautiful puppy, give her ONE GREAT BIG SMOOCH, just for me. :)

  10. Sherry says:

    I’m not all to familiar with the various parts of fish since I don’t generally eat it and when I do, it’s only whole steamed fish so I’m not really sure what makes the collar so special… :\

    And I remember that little break in between classes and exams… At NYU, we called it Reading Day since we only got the day… I was always so jealous of my high school friends talking about their Dead Week — a whole week with no classes? At the time, I would have considered it heaven.

  11. Mrs Ergül says:

    Salmon is definitely one of our favourite fishes! Raw and cooked. Going to ask for salmon collars the next time! Is it bony??

  12. jenyu says:

    Bev – no, they are salmon. The (only) reason I know they aren’t arctic char is because I saw the arctic char NEXT to the salmon in the ice case :)

    Christine – but now you know better! :)

    Rocky Mountain Woman – it’s addictive!

    farmerpam – she brings a lot of happiness to our lives and she has NO CLUE ;)

    Cindi – I know what you mean, girlfriend. I have to stroll the dog and THEN I go do my own workout. But they’re worth it, aren’t they? <3

    marissa - I love it too! I just can't seem to get yellowtail collar as easily as salmon collar.

    Pey-Lih - good luck!

    Jane - oh, I'm sorry to hear it. They are family, to be sure xoxo

    Margie - :)

    Sherry - the meat on the collar is tender and more fatty which makes it melt in your mouth. But if you don't like collar, you can always do the recipe with salmon steaks or salmon fillets! :)

    Mrs. Ergül - Ummmm, it's a little bony. I mean, the meat is a thin sheath between connective tissue, skin, and bones. Tricky, but I bet you'll have no problem getting every last morsel of goodness out :)

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