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Pacific Halibut a Hit at Simi Valley

Dec 1, 2004

The following story appeared in today’s Ventura (CA) County Star newspaper, featuring Tom Bohn, whose Pacific halibut, the writer says, “has been requested at many receptions in his church, Grace Brethren in Simi Valley.” Read it and drool!

His coolest dish is freshly caught fish

By Eva Smythe, CorrespondentDecember 1, 2004

Name: Tom Bohn.

City: Simi Valley.

Specialty: Seafood.

Secret: Fresh ingredients.

On the spot: Tom Bohn didn’t like seafood when he was growing up but, soon after, he discovered that fresh fish, when cooked well, can be an enjoyable experience. For years he worked for the Los Angeles City Building and Safety Department, but now Bohn is retired and spends his days fishing, then developing interesting recipes for his catches, ranging from tuna to halibut. However, it is his excursions to Alaska and the salmon he brings back that earns him the most acclaim. Bohn recalls once arriving home at 2 a.m. from Alaska, marinating some salmon in a large ice chest, carting it to a family reunion the next day and cooking it on the spot. “My niece who doesn’t like fish ate three helpings,” he said.

Exotic locales: Bohn has attended seminars on fishing and hones his craft on fishing boats from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. He became enamored with the large varieties of fish in those waters and has piloted many fishing excursions to those locales. His Pacific halibut has been requested at many receptions at his church, Grace Brethren in Simi Valley. His recipe features a delicate blend of butter, olive oil, onion, garlic, capers, carrots, parsley, basil, oregano, sugar, bay leaf, chicken broth, tomatoes and red-wine vinegar. It’s well worth the work, he said, because “I love the enjoyment of seeing people eat my seafood.”

Family affair: There is nothing finer than those occasions when his family cooks together. Cooking alongside his wife Barbara and four sons, Tim, Dan, Randy and James, is always a special treat. Better still is when the grandkids, Jana, Lindsey, Taylor, Zachary and Noah, enjoy the family-prepared seafood.

Lemon Peppered Salmon

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 or 3 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon crushed whole allspice

21/2 pounds salmon fillets, 1 to 11/2-inches thick (with or without skin)

About 1/3 cup mixed peppercorns (black, white, pink and green)

About 1 cup wood chips (hickory, apple etc.)

1 tablespoon honey

2 or 3 thin red onion rings

Dill, basil sprigs or fennel for garnish

Thin lemon wheels

1 tablespoon honey

In a 11/2-quart pan, bring 11/2 cups water, sugar, salt, ginger, bay leaves and allspice to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Rinse salmon fillet, pat dry, and lay flat (skin down) in a rimmed 12-x-15-inch container. Pour sugar-salt mixture over the salmon. Cover and chill, marinating the fish for 4 or up to 24 hours, occasionally spooning the brine mixture over the fish.

Add peppercorns to enough hot water to make them float off the bottom and soak for 15 minutes. Put wood chips in enough warm water to make them float.

Soak at least 15 minutes.

Drain the fish and discard the brine. Rinse the fish with cool water and pat dry. Set the fish, skin side down, on foil, cut to the shape of the fish.

Sprinkle honey over top of the fish and rub evenly. Drain the peppercorns and pat evenly onto fish in sticky honey.

Drain the wood chips and put in a foil “pan” and put under the grill (right on the coals is OK). Cover barbecue and heat on high until chips start to smolder (10 minutes). Place salmon on barbecue, turn temperature down to low (or low heat).

Add more wood chips if desired to maintain a steady stream of smoke. Cook until thermometer inserted in the fish reads 140 degrees in the thickest part, or the fish flakes easily (approximately 25 to 35 minutes, depending on your heat and on thickness). Add lemon wheels and onion during the last five minutes. Using wide spatula, slide fillet with foil onto a platter; garnish with dill or fennel.