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St. Louis, MO 63117
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Fish is a source of food that can put the cook front and center with killing the animal that provides dinner — just ask anyone who cooks a live lobster. Last night, we went fishing and caught two large salmon and one small trout in the cool waters of Lake Michigan. After filleting them and discarding the head, bones, and guts, we were left with about 25 pounds of fish. What to do with all that delicious and very fresh food?

First we made gravlax with one side of salmon, which will be ready in five days. Next we smoked a side of salmon. To smoke the salmon, prepare a grill and let the fire die down. Add some wood chips that have been soaked in water. If you can keep your hand over the coals, then the fire is cool enough. Ideally, the temperature for cold-smoking should be around 100 degrees and the temperature for hot-smoking should be 150 degrees. Since I forgot to pack my favorite probe thermometer, I had to guess the temperature and the grill was a little too hot. I mixed equal parts of sugar and salt and coated the fish and let sit for several hours to absorb the brine. Brining helps keep the fish moist, which is especially helpful if the fish gets overcooked.

One of the salmon we caught was female, so we saved the roe. I thought about just cooking the roe in hot butter, but decided to try to make caviar. I found this salmon roe caviar recipe. Now I know why caviar is expensive; removing the membrane to free the individual eggs is tedious, time-consuming, and not worth the effort!