kruizing with kikukat

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tribute to Uncle George: Furikake Salmon

Today's post is dedicated to Uncle George, who passed away this past Friday after putting up a brave fight against that fucking demon, cancer.

UGeo and AChar, 1-1-13
Relationship-wise, Uncle George is the younger brother of Kikukat Mom.  He graduated from Hilo High School and, like many others in his time, did a stint in the military before enrolling in the University of Hawaii.  His former roommate told me UGeo walked the fine line between "being a genius and a total idiot".  Instead of studying for an exam, UGeo spent the night partying, not worrying, as he had written all the answers and notes on his arms.  When he took the test, he blanked out (forgot about his notes) and received 3 points for getting his name right.  He once caused traffic on University Avenue to come to a halt when he wandered into the street while in a refrigerator box (earlier, he had been scaring Varsity Theater go-ers by speaking to them from inside the box).  He emerged from the box when he heard cars around him honking.  Somehow, he managed to graduate with a degree in civil engineering and went on to work for the City and County of Los Angeles.  Upon the urging of a friend, who did not want to go to law school alone, UGeo quit his job in Los Angeles and moved to Spokane.  He earned a law degree from Gonzaga University, and worked as an attorney for the city.  At one point, he was the canine control officer, in spite of he himself having more than the allowable number of dogs!  Eventually, he moved to Seattle and worked as a litigator for the National Labor Relations Board.  Sometime between Los Angeles and Seattle, he got married to Aunty Char.

UGeo would make occasional trips back to Hawaii, and his first stop was always to a bakery to buy a box of long johns.  He would also make a stop to eat a plate lunch.  His trips were spent visiting friends and gathering local stuff to take back to Seattle.  On one of his trips, he paid a fortune for excess baggage. . .he had 10 pieces of baggage, each packed full with local food.  In typical UGeo fashion, he just shrugged it off and paid the ransom. . .there was no way he was going home without his goodies.

I got to know UGeo well when I attended UW.  He and AChar took good care of me for the 4 years I lived in Seattle.  It was nice to have someplace to escape to on the weekends.  My college friends expressed gratitude at being able to enjoy a home-cooked meal for our first Thanksgiving away from home.  When I began college, UGeo lived in a cute house on Garlough Avenue.  In my 3rd or 4th year at the U, he moved into a beautiful home on Marine View Drive (complete with a fruit-producing Rainier cherry tree).  I remember sitting in his living room and marveling at the panoramic views of the water towards Vashon Island. . .the Lincoln Park ferry terminal was on the way to his home.

UGeo was indeed as crazy as his former roommate had described.  He had a penchant for bargain shopping.  It was UGeo who introduced me to Costco, Nordstrom Rack, Ross, Marshalls, and the basement at either the Bon Marche or Frederick and Nelson (I cannot remember which one, as I always get these stores confused).  He could shop all day and didn't mind going from store to store.  He loved to take visitors to the OBerto factory to buy the flat ends of cocktail pep or smok-a-roni and the bits of beef jerky.  UGeo took me to Eddie Bauer to get my first Gore-Tex jacket, which, much to his dismay, was NOT on sale.

During my time in Seattle with UGeo, we enjoyed multiple visits by family from Hawaii.  Grampa Isaac, UJohn and Aunty Suki came for a visit, and along with UGeo and my friend LM, we piled in UGeo's stick shift Monte Carlo and made a run for the border (okay, okay, I just wanted to make it sound more exciting. . .we went to Vancouver for Expo 86).  We stayed at a bed & breakfast (my first time, thank you again, UGeo) and headed back to Seattle after a few days.  On the way home, we had some car trouble.  UGeo pulled off the I-5, and UJohn hopped out to take a look (UJohn can fix anything. . .UGeo. . .let's say he was a good attorney).  UJohn diagnosed the problem as a burnt out clutch, and UGeo said,"I didn't know a clutch could burn out."  UJohn told UGeo "if you had brains you'd be dangerous!".  UGeo made a face behind UJohn's back but said nothing.  Even with his job of taking on large corporations in court when labor violations occur, he was no match for his older brother and was smart enough to know better.  We managed to call a tow truck and had to be towed to the nearest gas station.  Luckily, we were back in the US when all that happened.

UGeo loved animals.  When UGeo moved to the Marine View Drive home, he set up a gigantic aquarium in the basement.  He had red-tailed sharks and some odd-looking bubble head fish.  When I went to visit him, I noticed one of the bubble head fish was gone.  UGeo told me the fish had a tumor so he attempted to surgically remove the tumor himself.  I'm sure you can figure out what happened next.  In addition to the residents of the large aquarium, UGeo had 2 Cairn terriers, Maggie and Charlie.  When Grampa Benny passed away, UGeo inherited Martino, his black cat.  I'm hanging my head in shame because thanks to me, UGeo also inherited my 2 teddy bear hamsters, Rum and, of course, Coke.  Coke was aggressive and chewed Rum's ears.  Eventually Coke escaped her Habitrail cage and came to her end in the sofa.  I won't go into further details about that.  Aaaahhhhh. . .those were good times (except for the bubble head fish and Coke).

Oddly enough, in spite of Seattle having a myriad of sports teams, I never heard UGeo talk much about the Seattle teams, but he did occasionally go to games.  I remember Otee saying UGeo took him to some game (Sonics?) and he was appalled by how rowdy UGeo and his friends were.  He shouldn't have been appalled, especially with UGeo's history.  This is the man who threw his TV out of his apartment window after being upset at the outcome of a game involving his favorite team. . .are you ready for this. . .the Cleveland Browns.  He loved the Cleveland Browns, and his favorite player (when I was in Seattle) was Eric Metcalf.  He would tell anyone who would listen that he went to a Seahawks game and sat in the Cleveland Browns section and cheered alongside Eric Metcalf's family.  He said the Metcalf family was thrilled that he was a huge fan of their boy.

UGeo also loved to eat.  It was in Seattle at the hands of UGeo and AChar that I got exposed to all kinds of food.  They were with me when I ate at a Thai restaurant for the first time.  They were frequent patrons of Red Robin, where I ate my first "hamburger for dinner".  They showed me REAL fish & chips and always took me out to dinner for my birthday.  UGeo introduced me to my most favorite pastry in the whole world, the Potato from Nielson's Pastries.  He would actually need to get it for me because at that time, Nielson's was located in a not-so-nice part of downtown, and being a wide-eyed kid from a small town, it freaked me out to see all the bums hanging out on the street.  Thanks to them (and Grampa Benny), I know what  REAL Italian food is (sorry, but its not Olive Garden. . .although I love Olive Garden) and where to find the best birthday cakes in Seattle.  Are you listening, Mr. Borracchini?

I also got invited to his barbecues, which always featured his specialty. . .grilled salmon.  He would buy a whole salmon, fillet it perfectly, then throw it on the grill, which was fueled with coals and alder pieces.  I swear if I close my eyes and breathe in, I can still smell it.

Salmon has got to be the official fish of Seattle.  When you are in Seattle, you cannot help but eat salmon.  Its everywhere.  Every restaurant (maybe with the exception of Spud) boasts some kind of salmon specialty.  Except for the 6-month period following the fisheries class, I took advantage of every opportunity to eat salmon so I feel I have the right to declare myself a salmon afficionado.  And after consuming all that salmon, I must say UGeo did it the best.

Its been over 2 decades since I ate UGeo's salmon, and with his passing, I will never have it again.  I will never be able to ask him to show me how to expertly fillet a whole salmon, how to prepare the fire, and how to cook it so fricking perfectly.  But, thanks to him, I know how to find the best deals on salmon (or anything else).  In memory of the great times I had with UGeo (and AChar) in Seattle, I'm posting my own salmon recipe this week.  I'm hoping UGeo is looking upon me and smiling with approval.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     salmon fillet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line pan with foil.  Place salmon fillet on foil.  Generously spread a layer of mayonnaise over entire top surface of salmon.  Generously sprinkle furikake over mayonnaise.  Bake for 25 minutes (if salmon piece is over 2 lbs, bake 35 minutes).

Teriyaki Glaze

     1 tbsp sugar
     2 tbsp shoyu
     1/2 tbsp butter

Combine glaze ingredients in a heat-proof cup.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Let cool 5 minutes.  Pour over cooked salmon.

I would like to thank my cousins LA, Dus, and Otee (along with their parents UMiles and AKathy) for being there for our family when it counted most.  If you hadn't taken the lead and gone to Seattle, UGeo would not have been surrounded by love when his time came.  Thanks to you, many of the family were able to make it there in time to bid farewell.  Hugs and kisses to all of you.  You guys rock!


  1. Great tribute and memories. So sorry for your loss. Matsu

    1. Thank you, Matsu. Uncle was one-of-a-kind, and he will definitely be missed (both by his family and, likely, the discount retailers in Seattle).

  2. I'm sorry to hear about your loss, too. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe in his memory.

    1. Thank you, Joy. This recipe is good . . .and no frying (and frying mess) to manage.

  3. I tried your recipe but I added a few drops of sesame oil to the Mayo and sauce... It was my first time trying this and it was delicious! Thank you so much!