On our way home from Polebridge Montana and Glacier National Park earlier this week we made one last stopover at the cutest little cabin in Syringa, Idaho, which I found on airbnb. (click here to get $25 off your first airbnb rental). The name for the cabin we stayed in is the Lewis & Clark Trail Cabin and it rents for just $72 a night. Stepping inside the cabin was like being whisked back into time! The furnishings, kitchen, dishes, and decor was all in mint vintage condition making me feel right as home, just like I did many years ago when I used to visit my grandparents every summer. They even stocked the fridge with old fashioned candy bars and glass bottle sodas you could buy for $1 each, and even though I did not indulge I still found it to be super cute and thoughtful!
Take note of that great bug and skeeter proof screen porch where Tom and I spent the evening reading about the Native Americans, miners, missionaries, and marauders who lived in this area as told in the book, “Clearwater Country! The Traveler’s Historical and Recreational Guide: Lewiston, Idaho – Missoula, Montana“. A must read if you are going to be in this area of Northern Idaho as it recounts the lives of the settlers and incidents that took place along the Clearwater River so that you can follow along as you make the drive from Lewiston Idaho to Missoula Montana. The book notes historical events that you can retrace at the mile markers you travel by when you visit the towns of Syringa, Kooskia, Orofino and down into Lewiston. Hollywood hasn’t yet gotten a hold of these historic stories, so they don’t all have the happy endings you hope for as you read them! Which of course makes them all the more interesting. You can pick up a copy of this book for just 10 cents + shipping on amazon too!
The Lewis and Clark Cabin @ Syringa, Idaho (rented via airbnb)
“Clearwater Country” A wonderful historical account of the inhabitants of the Clearwater River.
Tom picking wild plums along the banks of the Clearwater River in Idaho.
The Clearwater River area from the Pete King Landmark above Syringa to down below Orofino is a wild food mecca too! We were traveling through in early August when the trees were loaded with wild plums in yellows, reds, and purples. These wild plums quickly became one of my new favorite wild foods! As you can pick a pint in just minutes, and they have the most flavorful sweet and just lightly tart flavor. I now prefer them to conventional plums because of their delicate sweet flavor, but feel free to use any type of plum you can get your hands on in the recipe below.
Delicious Wild Yellow Plums
We also picked apples that were growing wild along with blackberries, and wow, the trees were loaded with black hawthorn berries too. And we saw wild turkeys, Canadian geese, deer, and folks fishing along the river banks which helped us imagine the feasts the Native Americans and later settlers must have enjoyed here over the years.
This plum salsa has the flavors of summer and makes a great accompaniment to fresh grilled fish or served alongside a Southwestern inspired feast. The roasting of the ingredients takes the flavors of this dish to new levels. I highly recommend the roasting step as it also helps to absorb some of the liquid from each ingredient leaving you with a thicker, non-watered down salsa.
Roasted Wild Plum Salsa over Grilled Salmon
- 2 wild salmon fillets, 6 to 8 oz each
- 2 cups of wild plums (any plum will work!)
- 1/2 of a small sweet Walla Walla onion
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic
- 3 Tablespoons of fresh cilantro
- juice from 1 lime
- 2 pinches of cumin (omit for full AIP)
- 2 pinches of oregano
- 1 to 2 pinches of sea salt
- optional: 2 Tablespoons diced “spicy” radishes (like daikon or breakfast radishes) for heat
- optional nightshade: 1/2 of a jalapeno, seeds removed for heat
- Dice up plums, while removing plum pits from each one.
- Peel onion and cut into 4 or 8 wedges. You want each onion wedge to stay intact at the base for easy handling. (I only use 1/2 of an onion in this recipe and set aside the remaining onion wedges for another recipe)
- Slice garlic into halves, long ways.
- Set a cast iron skillet or saute pan over medium high to high heat.
- You are going to dry roast the onion, garlic, and plums in the pan until they blacken on each side. ( I set a side a small handful of chopped plums which I don’t roast to add in fresh pop of color to the salsa.) Turn on the oven fan to help fan out any smoke. It will only take a couple of minutes to blacken the ingredients. Do not add oil, as you are dry roasting.
- Let each ingredient cool after roasting, then dice the onions, garlic, cilantro and if needed cut the plums into smaller pieces.
- Mix all ingredients together in a dish, adding in the remaining spices. I found that a fresh radish (not roasted) can add a nice “bite” to this salsa. If using radish I suggest adding it in at the last minute, and only adding it to the portion of salsa you are using, as it might overpower leftovers. Or you can use a more traditional jalapeno for heat that has been sliced in half, seeds removed and dry roasted, then diced.
- Let the ingredients in the salsa marinate together as you grill the salmon. This flavors in this salsa develop nicely over a few hours or overnight too!
For the Grilled Salmon:
- Preheat outdoor grill to 450*F. (or cook in an oven indoors on parchment paper)
- Cook salmon fillets, skin side down, on the grill, with the grill cover on, (or in the oven) for 10 to 15 minutes until fish is fully cooked and flakes easily.
- Serve with grilled plum salsa over the top. This dish goes great with a fresh green salad on the side.