Salmon dolmas (BH&G Calorie Counter's Cook Book, 1970)

Another day, another dish - this week, I'm focused on fish. I took chicken out of the freezer, but since I've made a few different chicken dishes so far, I wanted to try something totally different. Today's recipe used canned salmon; later this week, I'll make one with a salmon fillet.

I enjoy seafood very much; having grown up on the Connecticut shoreline, we ate fish and shellfish fairly often. I remember my dad would go out on a chartered fishing boat with some folks he knew from the hospital where he worked, and they'd come home with pounds and pounds of prepared fish fillets - the folks on the boat would scale, debone, trim, and package them so the folks on the boat could just sit back, relax, and catch the fish. We'd always end up with a freezer full of striped bass for the winter.

Nowadays, we try to eat fish at least once a week, but kosher rules and geography limit us a little bit - in central California, our fresh fish options are just non-existent. I love basa/swai, which I tried and enjoyed often when living in South Carolina, but it's questionably kosher, so we err on the side of caution and stick to cod, tilapia, salmon, and tuna.

Folks are surprisingly divided on mixing fish and dairy. Some people don't think it sounds like a good combination, but I like it - seafood alfredo, lobster mac and cheese ... it can be done very, very deliciously.

This recipe came together pretty easily. The most complicated part was the canned salmon, which had skin and bones still so it needed to be cleaned up a bit. It wasn't difficult or even really all that time consuming, but in the future, I'll look for a can that's already been deboned and skinned.

The rolls went into the oven for 45 minutes, covered with foil. With seven minutes left, I started the cheese sauce, which I knew would be simple enough to make because it's a basic Mornay sauce - the same I use for homemade mac and cheese.

I went with a baby Swiss instead of the original, it's a bit mellower.

And voilà! The cheese sauce finished exactly as the oven timer was going off, and it plated up easily. 

The texture of the dolmas was excellent, sturdy but not too dense. The cheese sauce was good, but a bit bland as-is - next time I'll either add more spices, or use a more flavorful cheese. Overall, I liked it - it was an easy recipe and light but filling at the same time. I'd make it again for sure, and it could certainly be tinkered with as well - tuna with a cheddar sauce would be pretty good, too.


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