Oregon food, a regional part of the Pacific Northwestern cuisine in United States, eaten in the Oregon state, is largely reminiscent of the ethnic Native American and Asian culinary styles.
Historical and Cultural Influences on Oregon Cuisine
The food of this region, which was already influenced by the Spanish and Native American cooking in the historical times, began to imbibe the culinary culture of the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Koreans and Mexicans, when these ethnic groups started immigrating to this region during the 19th century. While majority of the Oregon food items were meat-centric initially, grain and vegetable recipes also began to popularize after the coming of the Asian and Mexican settlers. In the later part of the 20th century, healthy lifestyle became the prime focus of the people living in the western region, which also included Oregon, and thus, with vegetarianism on the rise, several recipes incorporating legumes, vegetables and rice were born.
Food in Oregon: Ingredients Commonly Used
Shellfish, salmon and Alaska king crab, Dungeness crab, clams, mussels and scallops form the common ingredients of the seafood preparations in Oregon. For meats, game meats such as elk, caribou or moose are most preferred. Amongst the fruits and vegetables, berries, potatoes, wild plants like fiddleheads and young pushki, small fruits and mushrooms are commonplace.
Stone fruits such as cherries, apricots and peaches, which are grown in abundance in Oregon, are mainly used in making desserts, cakes, pies, jellies, fruit preserves and nectars. Fruits are often also incorporated in savory Oregon food preparations and some popular examples in this regard include Pork Chops with Apricot, Cherry Glazed Chicken, Salads like Waldorf etc. Matsutakes, Morels, Chanterelles, Shitake, Hedgehog and Boletus are the wild mushrooms commonly used in Oregon cooking.
Nopales or Nopalitos, which is a prickly pear cactus, has been in popular use in several of the state’s recipes since the Native American times. Nopales salsas, Beef and Nopales stir fries, Nopales juice and Nopales avocado dips are some of the common preparations.
Cooking Methods Adopted by Oregon Cuisine
Grilling, roasting or smoking on cedar planks are the most commonly followed techniques in this American regional cuisine, especially, in case of seafood and fishes. The fish is seasoned first and then baked on a board of alder or cedar wood. Fishes, especially salmon, are also cooked by sautéing with Teriyaki or Japanese soy sauce. Seafood is generally baked, barbecued or fried.
Traditional Food in Oregon
Chuck Wagon Brisket– This traditional Oregon food is cooked on low campfire or slow cooked with lean beef brisket, sugar, salt, pepper, barbecue sauce, white vinegar, catsup and grape jelly.
Cranberry Salsa– Fresh cranberries are pureed with fresh cilantro, green onions, sugar, jalapeno chilies, ginger and lime juice for making this salsa.
Broiled Salmon Steaks– The salmon for this dish is seasoned with salt and pepper and broiled after being brushed with butter and served with parsley or dill garnish.
Oregon Hazelnut Pancakes– For making these pancakes, a batter made of ground hazelnuts, buttermilk pancake mix, nutmeg, almond and vanilla extracts and water is fried in griddle.
Yaquina Bay Oysters– Fresh Oregon oysters are broiled or grilled in the shells with added lemon juice for making this popular Oregon food.