Retirement Stories – Part 2

Peter Tibbles' Travel Travails and Salmon Recipe

category_bug_journal2.gif As regular readers know, Peter Tibbles owns Sundays at this blog where he weekly posts his delightful Elder Music column. But there's more to Peter than music (as if that's not enough) and I think you will enjoy this report from the road: Peter's return to Portland after a visit with relatives in Idaho, just across the border from Spokane, Washington:

We got to the bus station in Spokane in plenty of time of course and approaching departure time, we lined up in an orderly queue outside gate 3.

Well, 11:35AM came and went without a sign of any bus type substance. Then came the announcement over the loudspeaker: The bus to Portland will be delayed for half an hour as the bus from Missoula is late and ours was lurking around somewhere or other waiting for that one.

Well, by now we folks in line were real pals and we discussed whether the train or a plane would have been the better option.

Eventually a bus pulled up. And another and another and another and another and another. We figured that one of those should be ours and so it proved to be.

After a while there was another announcement that the bus to Portland is now loading at gate 1. What? Mad dash for gate 1, every man for himself. Another queue (different order from the first, of course).

A couple of minutes later, another announcement (and you can probably see where this is going) that the bus to Portland would be loading at gate 3. Another mad rush, every woman for herself.

Back at gate 3, they separated us into two queues, those with luggage to check and those with carry-on. Fortunately, I was in the carry-on queue, as we boarded first, and I got a nice seat with a big window (the front one had a woman with a small baby, so I stayed away from that).

We got everyone on board and the driver got on. Ah good, we all thought, but no. It seems that they loaded the checked luggage on to the wrong bus.

Well, we just sat around on the Group W benches playing with our pencils. We eventually got under way an hour late (and didn't make up time along the way).

Oh, the air conditioned failed not too long out of Spokane. Fortunately, it didn't get too hot. Also the intercom didn't work.

The driver did an admirable job under trying circumstances. When we arrived late in Pasco, the bus station was closed. He apologised for this saying that he had organised champagne and hors d'oeuvres for us all but with the station closed we'd miss out.

Ronni here again. A week ago, I showed you photographs of the results of the salmon dinner Peter prepared here one evening. It was dee-lish-us. Several of you asked for the recipe so I double-checked with Peter and here it is with his commentary. This serves two people.

Chunk of salmon (“enough for a good, one-person serving”)

About 2/3 cup of fermented black beans (“crush them a bit but don't go overboard”)

Add to the beans about 1 cup of mirin and a splash of sesame oil. Stir these and put aside.

Thinly slice a two-inch piece of fresh ginger

Thinly slice 5 or 6 cloves of garlic

Slice cross-wise into small pieces 7 or 8 spring onions (usually called scallions or green onions in the U.S.)

Line the steamer plate with the ginger, garlic and onions reserving a smaller amount for later.

Slice the salmon “as for sushi (small sushi, not big bits)” and place on top of the vegetables in a single layer (overlap if there's extra).

Pour the black bean mix over everything.

Add some more spring onions on top (“and garlic and ginger if you like”) Here is ready to be steamed:

Salmon Ready for Steamer

Steam for somewhere between 3 and 5 minutes depending how thick the salmon slices are.

Serve with rice at the table – and yum-mee it is.

Salmon being Served

A couple of nights ago, I made the dish again – everything the same as above except I substituted a whole halibut steak for the sliced salmon and it was equally good. I think you could use chicken too or just about anything that strikes your fancy.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Deb: The War of the Mashed Potatoes


It sounds interesting and worth trying. I have to admit to ignorance here. I have never steamed fish. Does 3 to 5 minutes cook it totally through?

Whatever method you use to cook fish, the rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

In this case, the salmon is sliced thin so 2 to 3 minutes is about right: thinner = shorter time; thicker = longer time.

The halibut I steamed was about an inch thick, maybe a bit more, so I steamed it for about 11-12 minutes and it was perfectly done.

On Saturday attended a dinner with five friends -- and was treated to just this dish. She used a large flat skillet to steam five good one person servings. Very good.

One of the things I've accomplished while getting older is learning to appreciate fish. We didn't eat much fish in my Rust Belt upbringing.

Will we have more of Peter's travel reports? That must have been frustrating, but he made the struggle to get on the bus a pleasure to read about.

As a native of Spokane, I apologize for Greyhound! They haven't improved much over the years! Might have been easier to rent a car to drive to Pasco! The airport is also very convenient to fly to Tri-Cities.

I wonder if you or Peter or any of your readers have tried using the inexpensive home-style substitutes for hotels. When my family visits Spokane this summer for a reunion, we are getting a 2 BR condo with a full kitchen and tons of amenities (pool, exercise room, big living room w/TV) for $150 per night, a lot cheaper than two nice hotel rooms. Many of these programs are international and friendly to single travelers, too. I stayed in Seattle once for $55/nt! Just thought that hearing about Peter's journey might give some of us the "travel bug!"

Eager to try Peter's recipe for salmon but this item posed a problem for me.

"fermented black beans". Do they come canned this way or is there process to fermenting them that's necessary for this recipe?

I'm at a loss here.

Fermented black beans are soybeans preserved in salt that usually come in plastic or tins. They are sometimes available in the ethnic aisle of markets or in Asian grocery stores.

These are not the same as black beans you might use for chili. I checked around the web and found that you can substitute black bean sauce, another Asian product that is more easily available.

Thanks Ronni for the information on "fermented black beans".

Sorry about Peter's travel issues... irritating, I'm sure. Thanks for the recipe!

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