This past week for my ethnomusicology class, we read a book called Music of the First Nations. Well, in reading and studying about American Indians all week and then pow-wow drumming in class Friday, I really started to crave one of my favorite American Indian foods: fry bread. The first time I ever had fry bread was at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) when I was down there to do some sort of research for a summer class between freshmen and sophomore years of college. I had only been a couple times since it had opened, so I spent the day checking out the museum and doing my research and enjoying the cafe. Because I was feeling cheap, I got the fry bread and it was one of the most amazing things I had ever eaten. I mean, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but if you’ve ever had fry bread, you know how good it is. So then when I interned at the National Museum of American History, I would occasionally escape to the other end of the Mall to eat some fry bread. However, I haven’t had it more than a couple times since that summer, so when I was reading/studying/learning American Indian music, I got a crazy bad craving for it. So I consulted one of my recent cookbook purchases, The Ethnomusicologists’ Cookbook knowing I would find a recipe in there! The recipe on the other side was for salmon, which is never a bad idea, and voila! We had our First Nations dinner to cap off a week of studying about American Indians.
Coastal Fry Bread (adapted from The Ethnomusicologists’ Cookbook; serves 6)
1 package yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp from jar)
2 tbsp white sugar
5 cups flour
3 cup vegetable oil for frying
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 2 Tbsp sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water. Once dissolved, add another 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Mix together and transfer to large bowl. Add 5 cups flour, mixed with 1 tsp salt, a cup at a time until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is satiny (aka not sticky anymore). Add more flour as needed to ensure that it does not stick to your hands. Oil the original bowl. Shape the dough into a round ball and place in oiled bowl. Cover with a warm damp tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise for about 20-30 minutes.
Towards the end of the time the dough is rising, begin to slowly heat 3 cups vegetable oil in a skillet, until it appears wavy. Pinch chunks off of ball of dough to make the individual fry breads. For a generous portion, pinch off a piece the size of an orange and for smaller portions, pinch off a piece the size of a small kiwi. When oil looks ready, test a small piece of dough to see if it floats to the top and starts frying. If it does, take one of the dough balls and stretch it out into a thin circle. Place it in the hot oil and let it cook until it turns a rich golden brown. When it floats to the top of the oil and is brown, flip it over to brown the other side. When dough is evenly brown, take it out and drain any excess oil on a piece of paper towel. Do as many dough balls as possible, keeping a close eye on process. If you don’t want to use all of your dough, you can refrigerate it over night. When done, serve with butter or honey, depending on how you’re enjoying it!
Baked Salmon (adapted from The Ethnomusicologists’ Cookbook; serves 2)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh rosemary
1 bunch fresh sage (we don’t have sage, so we used dried sage)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover baking pan in aluminum foil. Place onion slices in middle of pan, then place salmon on top. Cover salmon in butter, herbs, lemon juice, and whatever seasonings you would like. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until flakey. Serve!