Monday, August 30, 2010

Portland Salmon and Dungeness Crab BBQ

Kim's family is in town this week to meet our new little guy.  It's been great having them here, but whenever we have guests from out of town, I always feel like we need to prove to them how great Portland is.  Well, with a brand new baby it's impossible to take guests out and show them around. So, the only thing I could think of to do was to cook dinner.  How much more Portland can you get then having a good, local sourced meal? 

BBQ Gone Pacific Northwest
I decided to do a PNW BBQ for our out of town visitors.  Something that would be unique to this place. Something that they could remember as being different than what they could get on the east coast.  Pigs grow everywhere.  So do lambs, cows, chickens, and goats.  I had intended to do my traditional BBQ pork ribs but had a change of heart at the last minute.  It had to be smoked Pacific Salmon.

And Dungeness crab.

And heirloom tomatoes (which I have come to love over the past year).

And walla-walla onions.

How on earth could I put these together with a live fire of pecan wood into one meal?  I think best under pressure, and after procrastinating until 3pm of the day I had to make dinner, this is what I came up with:

Heirloom Tomatoes and Lemon Cucumber Salad with Roasted Sweet Corn
Smoked Salmon
Grilled Dungeness Crab
Smoked Walla-Walla Onions with Balsamic vinegar

For dessert, Lucille made an outstanding peach pie.

Now I have to admit some things.  Due to the lackadaisical nature of my planning, I was not able to make the entire meal local.  But it mostly was and I've got some good ideas for next time.

Heirloom Tomatoe and Lemon Cucumber Salad with Roasted Sweet Corn
So, if you do not know this already, my favorite place to by vegetables is not the farmers markets.  It is Pumpkin Patch farm on Sauvie Island.  Open every day of the week, this place has a great variety and they source almost all their produce from local farms.  AND they mark where the produce comes from.  This makes it easy to know if you are supporting local farms or if you are supporting importers.  Although I like Kruger's farm very much, when it comes to buying produce I prefer Pumpkin Patch farm by a local mile.  The tomatoes I actually got at the interstate farmers market.  Pumpkin Patch won't have their heirlooms in until September.
  • Lemon Cucumbers from Pumpkin Patch Farm
  • Walla-walla onions from Pumpkin Patch Farm
  • White and Golden Sweet Corn from Pumpkin Patch Farm (4 for a dollar. Awesome!)
  • Oregon Salt from me
  • Pepper from somewhere on the other side of the world
  • Balsamic Vinegar from Fred Meyer
  • Italian Parsley from New Seasons

Smoked Coho Salmon
Now, this is the one thing that sorta bummed me out.  Since Salmon was the centerpiece of the meal, you'd think it would have to be local.  Well it wasn't.  BUT after I bought the salmon, I saw the native guys selling some amazing Columbia River Salmon at the Interstate Farmer's Market.  If only I'd known!
  • Fresh Alaskan Coho from Fred Meyer
  • My special BBQ spice rub

Grilled Dungeness Crab
I had an idea and no idea how to do it.  Grilled crab.  Sounds great, no idea how to do it.  Considering the number of cook books I have, I thought a grilled crab recipe would be easy to find.  Well it was harder to find than I thought.  In the end I had to resort to searching the interwebs for a grilled crab recipe. had a good example that I used as inspiration.  You have to kill the crabs by boiling them first, then clean and grill.  Not hard really--a combo approach that turned out to be delicious.
  • Dungeness Crab from Fred Meyer
  • Butter from Noris Dairy
  • Garlic from Pumpkin Patch Farm.

Smoked Walla-Walla Onions with Basalmic Vinegar
A very long time ago I ate a grilled red onion with vinegar at a bbq party.  It was amazing. Like a hot apple but made with onions.  For whatever reason, that is what I wanted to replicate here.  But, not knowing at all how it was done, I just took my best guess, wrapped them in tin foil and threw them in the smoker, and it worked!
  • Walla-Walla onions from Pumpkin Patch Farm
  • Basalmic Vinegar from Fred Meyer
  • Salt from me.
  • Pepper from somewhere over the rainbow.

PNW BBQ Results
Overall it worked out really well.  We were a little light on veggies, but oh well.  The salad was fresh and sweet. The onion-salmon-crab combo was delicious.  Lucille's pie was supreme.   In terms of local, I think a little more than half the ingredients were local.  Not so great; the heavy reliance on vinegar and spices really hurt my local rating.  And the darn salmon...if only I'd known!

Here's some pics from the meal:


  1. Presentation was most appealing to the eye, delectable to the palate, mouthwatering flavors and a divine chef. Very impressed!

  2. Thanks, Lucille. I think the company was the best part of the meal. Can't wait to see you at Thanksgiving 2011!