Summer naturals: salmon and onions

Cured filet is cooked to prefection on the grill
JERRY ANNE DI VECCHIO

Just how many ways can you cook salmon? Don't ask a Northwesterner unless you have all day; generations' worth of great ideas pour out. Clearly, this fish is versatile ― and no shrinking violet when it comes to seasonings. Case in point: smoked salmon, the best of which is cured with salt and sugar. This combination enables the fish to draw flavors to its very core while, simultaneously, it develops a velvety succulence.

Curing is a little bit of food chemistry that I like to utilize when currying salmon. Despite variables in the blends, curry powders have common denominators that enhance salmon. The orange color comes from turmeric, intensifying the salmon's rich color. Cumin, the most overt spice in curry blends, also sets well with salmon. In addition, there are sweet aromatics such as coriander and cardamom. And even if mustard is evident, I like to add more. All its heat, but none of its taste, dissipates in the curing (currying) process.

Grilling is the easiest and most effective way to cook curried salmon. And there is no finer companion than a crisp, mint-cooled relish of summer's sweet onions ― Walla Wallas from the Northwest, Mauis from Hawaii, or Imperials from California.