Don’t ask LJ Klinkenberg to name a favorite preparation for Chinook salmon.

“For me, there are so many,” says the new director and executive chef of the Marriott Foundation Hospitality and Culinary Innovation Center at Washington State University’s Carson College of Business. “I love to pair the umami richness of seared or grilled Chinook with something that has a little sweet-and-sour flavor with it, like a fruit salsa or a chutney, depending on the time of year.”

To him, Chinook, or king salmon offers the quintessential taste of the Pacific Northwest—the taste of home. The Washington state native grew up northeast of Seattle before moving with his family at 13 to the Cheney area, outside of Spokane. His culinary career later brought him to the Midwest and Alaska, where he worked at a private lodge, cooking for some “very, very high-end clients. We had access to the best king salmon,” including the rare ivory king, a buttery, white-fleshed Chinook.

Whether white or deep reddish orange, he’s a big fan of Chinook.

At WSU, Klinkenberg teaches his culinary students how to breakdown a whole Chinook salmon, demonstrating the process in class and letting undergraduates take turns preparing fillets. “It’s really important for them to get their hands on it, to see how it feels.”

Klinkenberg, who replaced Jamie Callison in fall 2022, shows students how to utilize the bones and the skin and often under-appreciated cuts, such as the collar. “I really love grilled Chinook collar. You don’t see it on restaurant menus. You serve it almost like ribs. People pick them up and chew on them and dip them in butter. Collars are something that are overlooked, and I’m a big fan. I’m a big fan of nose-to-tail. You don’t waste anything. For me, it’s respect for the animal.”

And Chinook salmon, Klinkenberg says, “is a really giving food. You get a lot from it.” Skin, for example, can be turned into a crunchy cracker. “You can make a nice chip out of it.” He also likes Chinook pieces lightly smoked, breaded, and fried, then served fish-and-chips style. He often wraps trim meat in phyllo dough with a lemon cream sauce and capers, or prepares fillets en papillote, layering Chinook atop fresh dill and lemon, then wrapping it all up in a little foil package. “It steams in there with all of those aromatics,” Klinkenberg says. “It’s really simple and delicate.”


Salmon in Phyllo with Lemon Caper Cream

From WSU executive chef LJ Klinkenberg

2 pounds Chinook salmon cut in long strips, 2 to 3 inches wide

Zest of 2 lemons

1 cube butter, melted with salt, divided

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoon white pepper, divided

1 box phyllo dough sheets, thawed

Cooking spray, for oiling sheet pan

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon shallots, minced

2 ounces white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

Juice of 1 lemon (about 1 ounce)

3 tablespoons capers, chopped

12 ounces heavy whipping cream


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, add salmon, half the lemon zest, about 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and a couple pinches of pepper. Lightly toss and set to side. Brush individual sheets of phyllo dough with melted butter. Stack three sheets high. Place a piece of salmon on dough and roll. Place on a spray-oiled sheet pan and brush each roll with a butter. Repeat until all salmon is used. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until phyllo is a light golden brown and crispy.

Meantime, heat a sauté pan with olive oil. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add remaining zest. Deglaze pan with wine. Add lemon juice, capers, and reduce by half. Add cream and, on medium-high heat, reduce until mixture begins to thicken, about a 1/3 reduction. Season with remaining salt and pepper to taste.

Pull salmon from oven and let rest about 5 minutes as sauce finishes. Cut and serve with sauce pooled underneath.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


Salmon New Orleans with Beurre Blanc and Pico de Gallo

From WSU executive chef LJ Klinkenberg

4 to 6 Chinook salmon fillets, weighing 3 to 4 ounces each

Olive oil, for searing

4 to 6 servings rice, prepared according to package instructions


For the Blackening Seasoning

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons cayenne

1 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoons onion powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar


Combine all blackening seasoning ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix to blend. Generously coat fillets. Heat cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat. Once skillet starts smoking, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add fillets, one at a time, in a single layer, flesh side down. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, searing a crispy crust. Use a spatula to turn fillets, one at a time, flipping only once. Reduce heat to medium, cook until skin becomes crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from pan and let rest a couple of minutes before serving. Serve blackened salmon over rice. Top with beurre blanc and pico de gallo.


For the Beurre Blanc

1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped

1 tablespoon parsley stems, finely chopped

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 ounces white wine

5 peppercorns

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons salt


Sautée shallots, parsley stems, and garlic with olive oil. Add white wine and peppercorns and let reduce until au sec. Add heavy cream and let simmer until mixture is thickened. Slowly stir in butter. Once melted, add lemon juice. Season with salt. Strain sauce, and serve right away over salmon.


Pico de Gallo

¼ cup tomato, diced

¼ cup onion, diced

1 tablespoon jalapeño, diced

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon salt


Add all ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and mix to combine. Let mixture sit in refrigerator for 1 hour before serving to chill and allow flavors to develop.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


Pan-Seared SalmonPhoto E.J. Armstrong


Pan-Seared Salmon, Parsnip Celery Root Puree, Fennel-Ginger Preserves, and Sautéed Baby Bok Choy

From The Crimson Spoon by former WSU executive chef Jamie Callison and Linda Burner Augustine ’83 Home Economics and Honors

4 skinless salmon fillets, 6 ounces each, pin bones removed

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

Parsnip and Celery Root Purée (Recipe below)

Fennel-Ginger Preserves (Recipe below)

Sautéed Baby Bok Choy (Recipe below)

Finishing salt

Fennel sprigs, for garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and sear salmon until golden brown, about 3 minutes; turn and sear other side until golden brown. Transfer salmon to a baking sheet and bake just until salmon is cooked through.

To serve, spoon Parsnip and Celery Root Puree on a plate; arrange salmon over puree. Spoon Fennel-Ginger Preserves on top of salmon and Sautéed Bok Choy alongside. Sprinkle with finishing salt and garnish with fennel sprigs.

Yield: 4 servings


Fennel-Ginger Preserves

The fragrant spicy-sweet flavors of ginger and fennel are a great complement to the salmon—a fresh accent that doesn’t overpower the fish.

4-inch piece fresh ginger

1 medium fennel bulb

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt


Peel ginger. Cut into 1/8-inch slices, then cut into 1/8-inch thin strips. There should be ½ cup. Trim the stems and hard bottom from the fennel. Cut in half lengthwise and remove core. Cut fennel into 1/8-inch thin strips. There should be 2 cups. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer, add ginger strips, and cook until liquid is reduced and slightly syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Fill a saucepan two-thirds full of salted water and bring to a boil; add fennel and cook just until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain, then immediately transfer the colander to an ice water bath to stop cooking. Drain fennel. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat; add fennel and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir into ginger mixture. Season to taste with salt.

Yield: 1 cup


Sautéed Baby Bok Choy

Just a hint of seasoning and quick sautéing brings out the natural flavor of bok choy.

4 medium bunches baby bok choy

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon finely diced, peeled fresh ginger

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Kosher salt


Trim stem and tops of leaves from bok choy; cut into 1-inch pieces. There should be about 6 cups. In a large sauté pan with a lid, cook ginger in canola and sesame oil over medium heat until softened. Add bok choy and cook and stir until softened and light brown, about 2 minutes. Add water and soy sauce, cover pan, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove lid and cook until bok choy is crisp-tender and liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Season with salt, if needed

Yield: about 2 cups


House-Cured SalmonPhoto E.J. Armstrong


House-Cured Salmon and Dill Garlic Cougar Cheese Apple Potato Salad with Citrus Chantilly Cream

From The Crimson Spoon by former WSU executive chef Jamie Callison and Linda Burner Augustine ’83 Home Economics and Honors

This is one of my favorite starters for a great meal. The subtly flavored herb and citrus salmon slices go perfectly with the slightly tart crisp apple and potato salad highlighted by dill.

Dill Garlic Cougar Cheese Apple Potato Salad (Recipe below)

9 ounces very thinly sliced (18 slices) House-Cured Salmon (Recipe below)

Citrus Chantilly Cream (Recipe below)

6 sprigs fresh dill


Arrange salmon slices over apple potato salad in a serving dish, top with Citrus Chantilly Cream, and garnish with dill.

Yield: 6 servings


House-Cured Salmon

Curing salmon is easier than you may think. Waiting 48 hours for it to cure just might be the most difficult part! The brown sugar, dill, thyme, and fresh orange and lemon juice give the salmon just the right amount of subtle flavor. Have cheesecloth on hand for wrapping the salmon.

⅓ cup packed brown sugar

5 tablespoons kosher salt

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh dill

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh lemon thyme or thyme

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1½ pounds skinless salmon fillet


Stir together brown sugar, salt, dill, and thyme; set aside. Whisk together orange and lemon juices; set aside. Cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to cover both sides of salmon when folded over twice; rinse and set aside. Place salmon on a perforated pan or rack and place a pan underneath it. Brush both sides with orange juice mixture. Transfer salmon to cheesecloth and rub brown sugar mixture on both sides. Fold cheesecloth over to cover salmon and transfer back to perforated pan. Place another pan on top of the salmon and weight down with 2 pounds of weight. Refrigerate salmon for 48 to 72 hours, depending on the thickness of the salmon, turning about every 12 hours. Remove cheesecloth and brush off any excess rub. Carefully rinse salmon, then pat dry. Slice salmon thinly.

Yield: 1 1/8 pounds


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