So-called traditional Fourth of July food is red, white and blue — strawberry and blueberry pie topped with stars- and-stripes crust, compotes and trifles of strawberries and blueberries layered with whipped cream or custard — desserts that are served following an all-American cookout with burgers or hot dogs on the grill, corn on the cob, baked beans and potato salad. But go back a few generations and a traditional New England Fourth of July dinner was fresh poached salmon with egg sauce, served with straight-from-the-garden peas and new potatoes.

The salmon and peas tradition dates from the 1700s, when Atlantic salmon used to run in the rivers from Canada all the way down to the Long Island Sound, becoming plentiful just as the new vegetables were coming on in early July. An early Maine cookbook describes cooking a freshly caught grilse, or three- to five-pound salmon, by wrapping the cleaned and scaled fish in five yards of cheesecloth, placing this huge bundle in a washboiler half-full of water into which one cup of vinegar had been poured, and boiling it for five hours. The vinegar and long cooking dissolved the fish’s small bones and softened large ones so that the entire fish could be eaten “with no other condiment than a little salt and the slightest squeeze of lemon. I do not object to cucumber sliced very fine with a dressing of oil, three tablespoons to one cup of vinegar, salt and pepper ... but I regard green peas or any other vegetable with this fish as a cockney abomination,” said the cookbook author.

There’s only been one time within recent memory that our garden had both peas and  potatoes early in July, and as a nod to tradition, we bought salmon to accompany them. The salmon was simply broiled, peas steamed, and potatoes served whole in a cream sauce, all of it making a delicious repast, but somehow not the carefree kind of meal associated with a summery Fourth of July day — especially where the cook is concerned. But the traditional menu can be adapted to today’s more casual dining. Instead of poaching salmon  in a steamy kitchen, toss it on the grill. While it may be an abomination to 19th-century palates, an Asian barbecue glaze is mighty tasty — and a lot quicker to prepare.

A S I A N   B A R B E C U E D   S A L M O N

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. mirin
4 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
12 tsp. garlic chili paste
2 Tbsp. grated ginger
Zest and juice of a lime
1 Tbsp. finely minced garlic
1 lb. skin-on salmon fillets
sliced green onion and sesame seeds for garnish
About an hour before grilling time, whisk together all ingredients. Preheat grill on high, oil grates and place salmon fillets directly on grill, skin side up. Cover and cook two minutes. Use a spatula to carefully flip salmon and place skin side down on grill. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, covered, two minutes more. Lift lid and brush BBQ glaze over salmon until it’s well-coated and saturated. Grill one more minute. Remove from grill and top with green onions and sesame seeds.

The new potato and peas part of the menu can be combined in a creamy salad.

N E W   P O T A T O E S   A N D   G A R D E N   P E A S   S A L A D

3 lbs. new potatoes, unpeeled
3 Tbsp. vinegar
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh green peas, blanched for 1 minute
12 cup unpeeled English cucumber, quartered and sliced
12 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 cup mayonnaise
12 cup chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 tsp. cayenne pepper
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling, salted water until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, cool and cut into quarters. Transfer to large bowl, add vinegar and toss to coat. Mix in celery, peas, cucumber and radishes. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, all but one tablespoon of the chives, mustard, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Add to potato mixture and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least one hour to allow flavors to blend. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon chives, and serve.