First Fish Native Dinner – Albany, OR




Listen to the Big Blend Radio interview focusing on the First Fish Native Inspired Dinner in Albany, Oregon, featuring award-winning Chef Matt Bennett – Co-owner of Sybaris Bistro in historic downtown Albany; Jimmie Lucht – Executive Director of Albany Visitors Association; travel writer Linda Kissam – President of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association, who experienced this unique dinner as part of the “The Cuisine OF Cascadia Tour” media event. See Linda’s article about her visit to Albany on

Chef Bennett was the first chef to prepare a dinner at the James Beard House using Northwest Native American ingredients in 2011, and was honored to be nominated for best chef in the Northwest by the James Beard Foundation in 2011 and 2012. He was described in the publication of Best Places Northwest as a chef whose menus “reflect a fearless and playful approach to food”. The Bennetts focus on using the highest quality local, and whenever possible organic, ingredients. Sybaris serves contemporary Northwest cuisine that changes completely every month.

  • Lightly cured Chinook salmon, bacon spuma, wild greens
    Lightly cured Chinook salmon, bacon spuma, wild greens by Linda Kissam

Prepared by Chef Bennett, the First Fish Native Inspired Dinner Menu featured:

First course: First salmon back and belly in its dashi, acorn nettle pasta (see recipe below). Paired with Cascadia Cider.
Second course: Lightly cured Chinook salmon, bacon spuma, wild greens (see recipe below). Paired with Territorial Pinot noir 2013.

Third course: Elk rin eye, wild onion hash, smoked huckleberry, wild greens. Paired with Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône 2014.

Fourth course: Huckleberry sorbet, wood sorrel-buttermilk sorbet. Paired with French cider cocktail.


Acorn-nettle Pasta

1 lb. nettles, cleaned (small stems are ok)

6 eggs

1 cup acorn starch (available at Korean groceries, if you aren’t working with a good wild source)

5 cups all-purpose flour (may need more)


Boil one gallon water with a handful of salt.  Using tongs, boil nettles for 3 minutes.  Plunge the nettles into cold water, discard the awesomely colored blanching water.  Drain nettles and put into a strong blender with the eggs.  Puree until smooth.  Combine the acorn starch and the flour.  Work in the nettle-egg puree to obtain a smooth, non-sticky dough, add flour, if needed.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight to relax the dough.  The next day, roll out the dough using your pasta machine and cut to whatever shape you wish.  Treat like spinach pasta only remember that anything with acorns will be very filling, very quickly.

Lightly Cured Salmon

Fresh, skin on, Chinook salmon filet with pin bones removed

Fresh cedar boughs, washed and blotted dry

Cure mixture:

1 cup kosher salt

1 cup turbinado sugar (we use Allann Bros. Estate Gold)

1 Tablespoon cedar berries, ground fine (available at brewing supply stores)


Mix cure mixture.  Put a layer of cedar boughs in a stainless-steel pan big enough to hold the salmon.  Scatter half of the cure on the boughs in the pan, lay the salmon (skin down) on the boughs, scatter the other half of the cure over the fish, cover with boughs, cover with another pan of the same size.  Chill overnight (if you let it go for a few more days, it will be fully cured gravlax).  Rinse and dry filet, cut portions, grill to your taste.

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association


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