This weekend my dad, boyfriend and I went to the Oregon coast in search of razor clams. We waded, we dug, and we were ultimately unsuccessful–so we bought two pounds of fresh clams at the Bell Bouy, a seafood shop in Seaside. That still counts, right?
In the course of our adventure, we eventually found ourselves at a run down little seafood store. I didn’t even notice the place when we drove past it, but my dad, longtime connoisseur of seafood, spotted it and pulled a hasty U-turn.
The store turned out to be Karla’s Smokehouse, a well known source of smoked salmon and other seafoods. We were lucky enough to meet Karla herself, who has owned the business since she was 27 years old–she’s published the secrets of her perfect smoked salmon in her book, “I Am Karla’s Smokehouse, Volume II.” She showed us her smoker, a majestic cavern full of creosote and decades of fishy residues. It reminded me of the kind of cast iron pan that never gets washed–half the flavor of the food probably comes from the vessel itself.
Though it shames me to admit it, I’m not a huge seafood fan. I love fishing, I love crabbing, and I’m learning to spearfish, but as for eating the stuff … it’s not my favorite.
That said–this salmon was awesome.
Even the smoked oysters were amazing, and I have long believed that oysters are in no way meant to be consumed. Ever seen an oyster on the half shell? It looks like something you’d scrape off the bottom of your shoe in a sketchy neighborhood, not like something you’d want to eat.
… But I digress.
Karla’s Smokehouse was like the archetypal Pacific Northwestern fish shack–run down, bright (if chipped) paint, full of salmon posters and photos of beaches. The smell of warm, sweet smoked salmon hits you the second you walk in the door, and somehow infiltrated my camera during our visit–it still smells like salmon three days later, not that I’m complaining. Definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself on the Oregon coast, whether you’re a seafood fan or not.