Fourth of July Boiled Salmon was a staple from my childhood. I remember watching my mother dredge a piece of salmon wrapped in cheesecloth out of a huge steaming pot. I don't remember eating it. This delicacy must have been kept for dinner parties. I even dimly remember the egg sauce, but without the peas.
It occurs to me that my mother might not have been too keen on fish. Raised as she was in a pretty Catholic family, they ate fish every Friday when she was growing up. We ate fish on Friday pretty much through the 1950s.
I can remember when my mother stopped going to church except for Christmas, Easter and days of national disasters. (I remember going after the earthquake in Alaska.) That would have been around 1956, before I was old enough to make my first communion. As a result, I never had any idea of what was going on in church when we did go, usually with my cousins, and later at boarding school. My comments and questions were a source of great amusement to my friends who were brought up going to church.
I know my mother liked salmon, because she put it on the menu at my wedding. My father liked fish. He occasionally ate kippered herrings on Sunday mornings, which filled up the kitchen with the most godawful smell.
This recipe is not particularly complicated although it has a longish list of ingredients. Most of the ingredients for the salmon just go in the water to flavor it. The cook has to remember to hard boil two eggs the night before. I remembered. If you make this closer to the Fourth of July, you will be able to get fresh peas, which are not to be had in August.
It takes about an hour to complete this dish. I know because I was going to start cooking around 6:30, but fell asleep, and was awoken at 6:45 by my husband coming home. Hard on his heels was the young cousin, with a couple of other young persons. They noticed I hadn't started cooking, and took off for the chocolate shop where one of them works, my remarks about not spoiling your dinner notwithstanding. We ate about 8:00 pm.
Fourth of July Boiled Salmon, Peas and Egg Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion chopped
1 rib celery chopped
2 sprigs parsley
1 tablespoon salt
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
2 cups dry white wine
2 quarts boiling water
1 four pound to six pound piece fresh salmon
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
3 cups cooked fresh peas
1. To prepare salmon, melt the butter and saute the onion and celery in it until tender. Add the parsley, salt, bay leaf, cloves, wine and water. Simmer ten minutes.
2. Wrap the salmon in double thicknesses of muslin and lower into the simmering stock. Cover and simmer very gently about thirty-five to forty-five minutes or until fish flakes easily.
3. Remove fish by lifting muslin and unwrap onto a warm platter. Remove skin and keep fish warm. Strain fish stock and reserve two cups.
4. To prepare sauce, melt one-quarter cups of the butter in a saucepan and blend in the flour. Gradually stir in the reserved fish stock, the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring until mixture thickens.
5. Stir in the eggs and remaining butter.
6. Arrange the peas around the salmon and pour the egg sauce over the fish. Makes eight to ten servings.