So I tend to really remember some things. They lie dormant in some cranny of my brain only to resurface on down the line. In fifth grade we learned a little about different Native American traditions. I remember learning about how the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest dried salmon for the winter. I loved beef and venison jerky and thought that the idea of dried fish sounded amazing. I didn’t know if it was a long lost art or whether it could be done today.
Now over my wife and I’s trip out to Oregon this past Christmas, we were told we had to go see the redwood in Northern California. We rented a car and headed down the coast where driving though a little town I saw large sign on a little store that proclaimed Salmon Jerky. I stopped with the excitement of long dormant unanswered questions thrusted to the forefront of my consciousness. I had learned already that salmon jerky existed at least in some form.
My wife, not being a fish fan, stayed in the car and I ran in through the rain. A kind lady offered me a sampling of one type of salmon jerky and five different types of smoked salmon. I asked if the salmon came from there and she said it was straight from the Klamath River pointing to the large river visible out the back window of the store. The salmon jerky was smoked two days and she said what made it jerky was that it had more salt. The texture was indistinguishable from the smoked salmon. The smoked salmon was smoked anywhere from two to five days with various spices or glazes.
It was good, I appreciated it like each piece was sacred, but I was a little disappointed to learn that salmon jerky, at least here, was almost the same as smoked salmon. I’d grown up salmon fishing on Lake Michigan and had regularly smoked salmon growing up, so it wasn’t as exciting as I imagined it might be back in fifth grade.
I appreciated the experience. Got a package of the jerky for later, a piece of three day smoked salmon that had just come out the smoker, and piece of maple glazed salmon for kicks and dessert. I still have unanswered questions and will definitely be experimenting with my own dried salmon jerky in the future.