In this week's The Willowbee Tree story, “Powerful Friends”, Clancy is nervous about performing in the first grade play. Although he has only one line, he worries about looking silly in front of everyone.
But when the Willow Tree transports the Willowbee children to a Tlingit elder in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Clancy learns how to benefit from the wisdom of powerful "totem" animals. By the end of the story, he gains the courage, not only to perform, but to enjoy it!
As we learn from Clancy's adventure, the Tlingit tribes lives in the Pacific Northwest in a territory stretching from Alaska down the western coast of Canada. As with most cultures, historically, their diet was based on what was available. This included things they could gather, like seaweed and wild berries; as well things they could hunt and fish for, like salmon, herring, beaver, and moose.
I was ever-so-tempted to choose a traditional Tlingit seaweed preparation for this week's recipe. The colors and shapes are fascinating, but, alas—unless you happen to live near the shores of southern Alaska or western Canada—the specific kinds of seaweed used are prohibitively difficult to find.
As an amazing consolation prize, however, give this vibrant, grilled salmon a try.
While you could grill it indoors, the flavor will never quite be the same as if you cook this fish outside over a fire. I highly recommend it!
As for the pickled berries, feel free to swap out blueberries for whatever is locally available where you are. Blueberries, huckleberry, elderberry, and wild raspberries all grow in Tlingit territory. Each will give the dish a slightly different flavor, but really, you can't go wrong with fresh berries.
Grilled Salmon With Pickled Blueberries
4.4-ounce container blueberries (or a scant cup)
½ cup sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon pickling spice
half of a small, yellow onion, sliced
2 pound salmon fillet, with skin on
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
several sprigs of fresh thyme
1 lemon (juice and zest)
a few big handfuls of arugula, or a similar green
Then, make the pickled blueberries. Rinse the berries and set them aside in a bowl with some extra room. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, and pickling spice, and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Pour the mixture over the blueberries, and stir to combine.
Next, prepare the salmon. Brush both sides of the fillet with olive oil, and generously season it with salt and pepper.
When your grill is ready, carefully oil the grate, then put the salmon on the grill, skin side down. Put on the lid and let the salmon cook for about 5 minutes. When it's done, the salmon should be less vibrantly pink and just starting to flake with a fork.
Arrange the salmon on a platter over the top of a few handfuls of arugula. Spoon the pickled blueberries—and a generous portion of their liquid—on top, then squeeze the whole platter with lemon juice.
Enjoy with extra greens or over a scoop of your favorite cooked grain.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.