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Cooking on the Go: Salmon Chowder

Sacred Seafood of the Pacific Northwest

Some regions have their fish boils or fish fries, but in the Pacific Northwest, it’s all about salmon. Salmon festivals, salmon chowder cook-offs, and salmon days are filled with feasting and folklore. The fish is sacred to the region’s Native Americans. Legends have been woven around it, some with elaborate rules about how it should be caught and prepared.

“The Creator made the Salmon,” starts one story that has been told around council fires since time began. “He planted the Salmon in the Rivers for the People. Always remember the Sacred Rules. Never take more than you need. Never lay a Salmon on the ground with his head toward the River.”

Few dishes are simpler and more satisfying for RV cooks than salmon chowder. You can make it in one pot over the campfire or grill, on a camp stove, and in an RV galley—whether tiny or titanic. Here’s one place where you don’t have to apologize for using canned foods: tinned salmon and canned milk are staples in chowder cookery.

Some cooks add smoked salmon to increase the back-woods flavor. Some stir in cheese. Still others stretch a skimpy salmon supply by adding cream-style corn to the kettle. You can start with grilled or poached fresh salmon; use leftover cedar-planked salmon; or fall back on canned, whole salmon. Our RV-ready version uses canned skinless, boneless, chunk salmon.

Salmon Chowder Supper for Two

  • 1 slice of bacon, cut up
  • 15-ounce can of diced potatoes, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large rib of celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 15-ounce can of ready-to-serve broth (chicken, fish, or vegetable)
  • 6-ounce can of skinless, boneless, wild-caught salmon
  • 12-ounce can of evaporated milk
  • Instant potato flakes (optional)
  • 2 pats of butter
  • Crumbled, dried thyme or parsley

In a two-quart saucepan, fry out the bacon. When it’s browned and crispy, add the potatoes, celery, and onion, stir-frying to soften and coat them with bacon fat. Add the broth and the canned salmon, including its juice. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Press a potato masher down to the bottom of the chowder two or three times to break up the solids. Stir in the evaporated milk and heat through. If you want thicker chowder, add the potato flakes one tablespoon at a time, stirring one minute before adding more, until it’s as thick as you like.

Place a pat of butter in each serving bowl, and lightly sprinkle in the thyme or parsley. Ladle the chowder over the butter, and serve.