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Salmon Flavor Comparison


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Now that the Copper River frenzy is winding down (and I definitely enjoyed it while it lasted) and the Yukon frenzy is still ahead of us, I need to get salmon tomorrow to grill. For whole sockeye (my fave) I can get either the last of the CR, or Kodiak, or Bristol Bay. I've never heard of the latter two, and they're the same price. Anybody have experience with these fish?

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I can't speak about the latter 2 fish, but as for late season Copper River sockeye, Dennis the seafood manager of Metropolitan Market in W. Seattle told me about a week ago that he didn't recommend the late sockeye CRS and that is why he wasn't going to order anymore and was replacing it with Yukon River salmon. I am pretty sure they have the Yukon now, as there are banners outside the store for it. He said some stores will still sell the end of CR sockeye, though he didn't recommend it. That run is just about over and other runs just beginning are better. You can always give Dennis a call and ask him, or another reputable seafood manager their opinion about the Bristol Bay and Kodiak runs.

Have fun tomorrow! fresh grilled salmon... yum!

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The Yukon is indeed in, but super-expensive. I ended up with the CR, which was very good. I planked it on the grill, so it wasn't just the pure stuff, and I'd say that it wasn't as spectacular as it has been, but it was still very delicious. And for $7.99 a pound, beautifully filleted, my guests and I were very happy.

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My brother-in-law and I had Yukon King fillets at Etta's last Thursday at $35 a pop. I had seen the NYTimes article on Wednesday about these "super" salmon and wanted to try them. I noticed in the accompanying photos in the NYT that the kings were pretty red. Generally the redder the skid the stronger the fish.

My guess on the new market wonder wasn't wrong. My borther-in-law was in agreement.

Last night at a party with an old Norwegen fisherman. I talked with him about this. "Nooo, just like Copper River, just a marketing trick to sell more fish," he said. "They are not better than any fresh, well-handled king at this time of the year." Redder outside, more oil, true. Better smoker fish.

We're off to day to see if we can get our quota of fresh, bright ocean Kings at Westport.... fine eating.

dave

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Last week, we had Bristol River sockeye (on the grill with salt & pepper only). It was bright red and had a very distinctive taste of shellfish -- shrimp in particular. Is the taste of shellfish normal for this kind of Salmon from this place or was it something about the piece we had? Is it more a reflection of what this particular fish had been feasting on? I may try to get another piece this week and see if it is the same, but I'm curious to hear from folks with more Alaska salmon experience than I have whether a strong shellfish taste is typical.

We live in the SF Bay Area and usually eat local king salmon, so that is my point of comparison.

BTW, I got the Bristol River sockeye at the Marin County farmer's market ( I think Mission Fish) was the name of the seller) for $9.99/lb.

Charley Martel

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the Yukon was spectacular when we had it last weekend from Mutual Fish, though the price was to match. the fattiness of the fish made it just about melt to the touch, though we had to adjust cooking times just a tiny bit because there was such a high fat content. marketing ploy or no, it's got a lot of potential, so long as you're not planning to be delicate with it.

it's past peak CR season, and as others have pointed out, probably not worth it at this point.

no clue on the other two.

if you're hunting down sockeye and want a treat, check out the Yukon. especially since it may not be back for a while. otherwise, whatever you find in the better SEA fish markets is likely to be just great.

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Tried the Yukon the other night (grilled, s&p, lemon)--yummy. Richer tasting, with more of a mineral edge than any CR we had this year. Really did melt in your mouth!

By the way: if you buy a whole salmon and have it filleted, ask to keep the spine. which has a lot of meat on it. A little s&p, throw it on the grill. Eat the meat off the bone. Yes, you will look like a caveman (-person?), but it's good eating. . . and a different texture from the rest of the fish.

agnolottigirl

~~~~~~~~~~~

"They eat the dainty food of famous chefs with the same pleasure with which they devour gross peasant dishes, mostly composed of garlic and tomatoes, or fisherman's octopus and shrimps, fried in heavily scented olive oil on a little deserted beach."-- Luigi Barzini, The Italians

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By the way: if you buy a whole salmon and have it filleted, ask to keep the spine. which has a lot of meat on it.  A little s&p, throw it on the grill. Eat the meat off the bone. Yes, you will look like a caveman (-person?), but it's good eating. . . and a different texture from the rest of the fish.

While at a fish camp in Bristol Bay I watched a reired doctor pick the cooked salmon "frames" each evening. the next day we would have wonderful salmon patties or chower from the leftoverss.

We pick frames at home (after cooked) and freeze in ZIP loc bags. Great for Summer salads or any other dish calling for salmon pieces; plus you feel less guilty of waste when you fillet a salmon. Now if you are Norwegen you'd go for head and all.

dave

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Over the weekend I cooked 2 pounds of Yukon 2 ways: cured with demerara sugar, salt, and pepper for 3 hours and pan smoked and salted for a few hours, then briefly marinated in mirin & sake and then grilled and brushed with the leftover mirin to get a crispy skin and slight glaze.

I thought both were very good, but both preparations did not leave a huge amount of room to distinguish minute flavor distinctions. There is definately more fat and that really translates out into a softer andslightly moister texture.

After I'd handed over my $40 for just over 2# of fish the fishmonger (who I trust a lot) started telling me that he thinks a fresh (ie just killed) or properly handled Columbia river salmon is just as good as any Copper River or Yukon River fish. He emphasized that the biggest difference is in the handling of the fish and that its exceedingly important to ice the fish immediately, which is how the CR and YR are handled.

Hal

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I haven't had the Yukon yet, didn't buy any Copper River king this year (did enjoy the sockeye), but I have had really, really good salmon this year. Last week Larry's had troll caught Oregon king. It was awesome! Cooked up nice sockeye last night. Bought it at Whole Foods, and I'm sure it was Alaskan. The prices I've paid were under $9/lb. At half the price of the "branded" salmon, I'm quite happy to eat these alternatives!!

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I'm not a huge fan of Salmon. It's rare to get one that is cooked correctly, but by far I think Sockeye is the best. Very tender and high fat content. Chinook is pretty good too.

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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Me too I'll take sockeye any day over the alternatives, and at this time of year I want it every day! I got diverted by raspberries last week, but now salmon is again swimming to the forefront of my food mind.

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while we're on the topic ... filets versus whole sides? (i'm leaving steaks out entirely.)

it was pointed out to me recently that even if you deduct the weight of bones and trim, the whole-fish prices for salmon in Seattle are almost always less than half the filet price -- and any decent fishmonger will do the filet (and even the pin-boning, though they won't often mention that) for free. the only downside: you have to buy a whole fish.

but if you happen to be serving more than a couple people, this seems like a really good way to get salmon for a good deal less, and of course you're able to inspect the fish for freshness and damage before you end up with your cuts. (plus you get the bones for stock, or to taunt your cats.)

so what's anyone else think?

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Sides, definitely. We've been throwing them directly on the grill this summer. Leftovers (when we have any) can go into all kinds of things--salmon/potato cakes, salmon patties, ravioli, a carbonara-ish thing with fresh peas and pasta, quesadillas, etc.

And here's another point to think about: when you buy the whole fish, whether or not you have it filleted at the store, you are working on becoming a "known seafood customer." If you know the fish folks, and they know you, and know you're a person who knows something, is interested, etc. etc., then you do better with things like--what's really fresh today, or where to find Stellar Bay oysters, or when will the dry-pack scallops be in (instead of the previously frozen, chemicalized ones), etc.

Oh yeah--and I'm with you on the sockeye. Though I have to admit, I'm not at all sorry we tried the Yukon king!

agnolottigirl

~~~~~~~~~~~

"They eat the dainty food of famous chefs with the same pleasure with which they devour gross peasant dishes, mostly composed of garlic and tomatoes, or fisherman's octopus and shrimps, fried in heavily scented olive oil on a little deserted beach."-- Luigi Barzini, The Italians

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If you know the fish folks, and they know you, and know you're a person who knows something, is interested, etc. etc.,

absolutely. and they're more likely to tell you exactly what's freshest and how long various things have been sitting in the store.

though of course, Seattlites are very spoiled when it comes to freshness, at least comparatively ...

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