Grandma's Special Salmon Sauce
I would get up at 6am with my dad, pull on my boots and add one jacket on top of another. At only 8 years old, I'd fill that dented and well-loved Stanley thermos with hot chocolate - dad had his thermos of coffee - and traipse with him to the boat. I can still see the boat bobbing by the dock and smell the salty ocean water. A few seagulls say hello, but all else is quiet, serene - we witness the crack of dawn.
He loved to fish, and I loved being part of dad's crew. I'd curl up on the bright blue, tattered vinyl boat seat then stare at the end of my fishing pole for hours. Was that a bite? We listened to music - or Bill Cosby or the Nylons - and if my Uncle or grandpa were fishing on a nearby boat - we'd call them on the CB (long before cell phones existed). Roger.
After hours filled with a few exciting minutes of reeling like a mad-person, nets flying and big proud grins - we'd pull in our poles and motor back to dock.
I would watch as my dad deftly fileted each fish - on the dock there would be a pseudo sink with a spray hose and slab of wood.
My family ate salmon frequently. Often we would fish near the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington state. Back in the day: we would catch our limits. We loved to eat salmon. And we always, always ate it with grandma's special sauce. Now that I think about it: it was like smearing tomato aspic on the highest quality line-caught salmon you could find. Who does that?
As a child, it was a given that we put 'grandma's special sauce' on our salmon. Now I giggle at the notion that I accepted 'special sauce' without question. Even today, nostalgia easily trumps my professionally trained palate: I still make and love grandma's special sauce.
Grandma's Special Sauce (for Salmon)
1 can tomato soup 2 T. sweet pickle relish a small onion, diced 2 T. brown sugar 2 T. vinegar 1/2 to 1 teas. prepared mustard 1 T. liquid smoke
Combine all, heat over stove.
Janelle + Grandma's Special Sauce
1 8 oz jar of grown-on-my-urban-farm then canned tomatoes (OR your favorite high quality 15oz can crushed tomatoes)
3-4 T tomato paste
2-3 T homemade canned sweet pickled, finely chopped (or bread & butter pickles)
1/2 small red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 T dark brown sugar
Coarse and freshly ground: salt and white pepper
2 T white vinegar (OR white wine, white balsamic or apple cider vinegar)
2 tsp mustard (I use stone ground)
1 T liquid smoke
2-3 tsp honey
Add ingredients into pot, and simmer until onion softens and sauce is heated through.