salmon head phoRecipe by Chef Rob Kinneen
Fork Catering, Anchorage

This pho is based on an indigenous Alaskan fish-head soup. Traditionally the heads were cooked down long enough to leach calcium, supplementing an otherwise dairy-free culture. If you don’t have a fish head handy, try using fish carcasses or fillet scraps.

Makes four servings.

Salmon Pho Broth:
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 small Alaska-grown yellow onion,
cut in half
3 cloves garlic, smashed
5 slices fresh ginger
1 wild Alaska salmon head, gills
removed, and rinsed in cold water
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
6- to 8 quarts water or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground star anise
3 tbs hoisin sauce
1 tbs sriracha (optional)
Vegetables and Noodles:
1 (8-ounce) package rice vermicelli
1/2 Alaska-grown onion, cut into
thin julienne strips
1 Alaska-grown carrot, cut into thin
julienne strips
1/2 Alaska-grown zucchini, cut into
thin julienne strips
1/2 Alaska-grown “snow apple” (turnip)
or daikon radish, cut into thin
julienne strips
1 cup Alaska-grown leafy greens, such
as kale or chard cut into ¼-inch ribbons

Fresh bean sprouts; fresh basil leaves;
fresh torn cilantro

Pan-seared salmon fillet (optional):
4 (3-ounce) portions skinless salmon,
pin bones removed
Ground cinnamon, star anise, and salt
to taste

1) Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, 2- to 3 minutes. Chop salmon head in half and add to pot along with cinnamon, star anise, and water. Let simmer two hours, adding more water, as needed (so head is submerged while cooking). Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve, reserving head and discarding the rest. Stir in ground cinnamon and star anise, hoisin, and sriracha, if using. Bring back to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes; set aside.

2) Place noodles in a large bowl. Boil enough water to cover noodles and pour over noodles; cover with plastic until noodles are soft and tender.

3) If topping with additional salmon pieces, dry salmon with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Season with cinnamon, ground star anise, and salt. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add one tablespoon oil and place fish in pan. Cook approximately two minutes, flip and cook another minute or two or until desired temperature; set aside.

To Serve:
1) Drain noodles and divide evenly among four large bowls. Top with vegetable strips, herbs, and pieces of cooked salmon—either the individual portions or meat from the head—or smoked salmon. Pour broth over and garnish. Serve at once.


Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
311 N Franklin St., Ste. 200
Juneau, AK 99801-1147