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Wild Salmon Tasting Notes and two Salmon Specials

Spring is here and it’s time to grill some salmon.

We’d like to encourage our customers to try different species of our salmon. Everything we do is quality and all of our line-caught salmon are the pinnacle of quality. We offer these tasting notes to help you choose:

Of the Pacific wild salmon that we sell, there are king salmon. With meat colors ranging from orange-red to creamy white and everything in between, mostly depending on the ratio of shrimp and krill to prey fish they are eating, these are the largest and least numerous of the Pacific salmon. King salmon tend to return to bigger river systems to spawn and to prepare for this journey up big, fast-moving streams, they build up a lot of what for us are the good fats loaded with heart-healthy Omega-3s. The king salmon’s big flake and succulent, rich flavor and very high oil content make them very much in demand and the most popular seafood item we sell. The best way to cook would be a slow grill at 275° F over a flavorful hardwood like alder or cedar. Capers or mustard-y acidic sauces will help balance out the fish flavor of a king salmon. 

A very close second in popularity is our coho salmon. Milder and more delicate, with a peachy orange color, coho salmon’s quality and flavor benefit greatly from being line-caught, as their delicate meat, prized for pairing with fine meals, is kept in pristine condition with the dedicated handling procedures practiced on trolling boats. Like king salmon, coho salmon are rich in oils and coho salmon are particularly rich in vitamin D, while being leaner than king salmon. Their mild flavor makes them easy to pair with all kinds of recipes and a family favorite and pleasing also to picky eaters and children alike. The coho is more delicate and a little bit more prone to overcooking than king salmon. Both the coho salmon portions we sell and the larger fillets are thinner than king salmon, but this thinner fillet can mean a more consistent cook throughout the fish, and some of our customers, myself included, prefer the thinner coho salmon fillets and portions over the king salmon for this reason. (I also really like the milder flavor of the coho.) Once again, low and slow on the grill is the way to go to avoid overcooking.

Another species of salmon that benefits from being line-caught is keta salmon. Most keta salmon are caught in nets as they approach streams and the end of their lives with poor meat quality, making them eventually sold in lower-end markets. In contrast, our Alaska Gold wild keta salmon are caught on hook and line. By definition, line-caught salmon are actively feeding and at the peak of their quality.The difference in being line-caught cannot be underestimated. Our Alaska Gold keta salmon are very mild, moist, and delicious, and can be used in a variety of recipes, like this Keta Salmon Curry with Lemongrass and Galanga Recipe or this Sweet Chili Keta Salmon recipe. One of the best ways to enjoy keta salmon is slow-grilled with teriyaki sauce. A blackening seasoning or creamy sauces like those used for a Halibut Olympia recipe also work well with our keta salmon.

Wild Sockeye Salmon from Alaska
Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon. Photo courtesy of Alaska Seafood.

Have you tried our sockeye salmon?? Sockeye salmon is one of the more numerous Alaskan salmon. They are prized for their deep red color, firm texture and robust flavor. They are plankton eaters and do not usually take hooks, so they are rarely caught on hook and line. From time to time we offer the rare line-caught sockeye salmon we catch for sale on the Alaska Gold website. This is a really, really special offering, as less than 1/100th of 1% of sockeye salmon available in stores are caught on hook and line and benefit from both the care given to each fish that is typical for a line-caught salmon and also being caught in a state of active feeding. Sockeye salmon, because of their bold flavor, can hold their own with super-flavorful spices and sauces. DO NOT MISS this wonderful line-caught sockeye salmon!

Quality starts in the water. The initial condition of the fish establishes the upper limit of it’s quality. From there it can only be degraded, not improved- thus a net-caught salmon, typically caught near the river mouth, won’t match the quality of a line-caught salmon on the open ocean.

So here are the specials:

Get 10% off our Alaska Gold wild salmon with the following coupon code: SalmonSpecial

But if you get more than two varieties of our Alaska Gold salmon, use the following coupon code for 15% off, and we’ll also throw in a 6-portion box of keta salmon (while supplies last): SalmonSmorgasbord

Both coupons expire April 30th.

Enjoy,

The Folks at Alaska Gold Seafood

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Seafood Preparation Tips From Customers

We compiled a list of tips for preparing seafood from our Alaska Gold Seafood customers to help each other learn new ways to prepare seafood.

Medine in Kentucky says, “I am grateful for your fish; it is the freshest quality. I like to let my salmon pieces come to room temperature; then I will sprinkle a little bit of fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. I heat my pan on medium heat until hot. Then I cook the salmon skin side down for 5 minutes, flip it and cook for 5 more minutes. I let it rest for 2 to 3 minutes before enjoying.”

Adam from Dana Point, California says: “Here’s the tried-and-true best way to cook coho salmon, as confirmed by my super-taster three and seven-year old boys.

Marinade:

1 tsp honey or coconut sugar

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tsp ginger

1 tbs rice wine vinegar

1 tbs vegetable oil

Salt and pepper to taste

mix well

Place coho salmon filets skin side down on wire rack positioned on a cooking tray.  

Apply marinade liberally

Broil on high for 6-7 minutes until skin is lightly browned and cooked mostly through.

Sauce:

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tsp ginger 

1 tsp garlic 

1 tbs rice wine vinegar

1 tbs sesame oil

1 tsp (+/-) Huy Fong Foods Chili Garlic Sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Serve over rice with chopped scallions and dumplings. “

LuAnne from Ferndale, Washington says “My favorite way to prepare coho salmon fillets is in the oven 45 minutes at 200 degrees. You can top it with almost anything from Italian dressing, a miso paste topping, soy sauce, just about anything. One of my favorite toppings is to salt and pepper the salmon, let it set for 30 minutes then a layer of mayonnaise and then a layer of Pesto on top of that. So Good. You can’t screw up this fish unless you overcook it!” Yes, low and slow, is how many of us cook salmon.

How to prepare Salmon Blueberry Salad from KD in Lake Tahoe, Nevada:

“Take about 4 to 5 oz, (this is about 50 to 60% of a single king salmon portion single serving cut up in small cubes) and on low heat, fry in a small fry pan with olive oil and a small fork worth of diced garlic. (Don’t overdo the olive oil. By the time you’re done cooking the fish you want the oil almost cooked out. I keep a lose lid on the pan as well to contain the heat for more even cooking.)

During the heat up period take a spoon and regularly move the pieces around in your pan every couple of minutes.  Even in low heat, (I have a gas stove and use as small a flame that I can get on my small burner) you will need to move the fish in the pan at first in order to avoid it from sticking on to the pan. After the first couple of minutes the fish and oil will have come together so this is not a problem, so long as you are patient and keep the heat very low.) In about 8 to 10 minutes you should see all of the pink out of your salmon.

When the garlic starts to brown, drizzle lime juice and soy sauce on to the salmon along with pepper. Don’t overdo this. (Sometimes I also add some ground ginger near the end of the cooking process so it doesn’t cook out. But don’t overdue the Ginger.) The fish is not done yet , but it will get there so keep an eye on it. Every minute turn the pieces over as they gradually brown and keep them moving on the pan bottom.

As the salmon turns a golden brown, hit the fish with a small fork of capers and about 8 to 10 fresh blueberries. Turn everything over in the pan several times so the berries are covered in the heated oil. I then put up the caper jar and by the time I come back to the pan, take it off the heat. You’re done. You want the blueberries to be heated but not melting.

I then pour out the pan contents over a small bed of spinach greens. I put a little of dressing on the greens before placing the fish on top in order to avoid drowning the fish in salad dressing. You can add some croutons as well. I also hit it with some fresh ground pepper one more time.

If you do it right there is nothing left in the salmon that remotely tastes like fish. It is something else entirely and it is amazing! It is so good I can’t believe how good it is every time I eat this. I realize there are no portions provided in the above, but I am more of a cook than a recipe guy. Good Luck with it!

PS: I cut the skin off two thawed salmon steaks, dice it up into small cubes and keep them in a plastic container and eat them over a two day period. This dish takes about 15 minutes if you buy the pre-boxed spinach greens at the grocery store and is better than anything you’ll ever get in a high end restaurant.

Tad from Sitka says “Put mayo on halibut to keep it from getting dry. There are a number of halibut and other seafood recipes with mayonnaise, like the Halibut Olympia (also known as the Caddy Ganty) and all of these recipes with mayonnaise keep the halibut from getting dry.”

Annette from Alta, California says, “I am hooked on the Coho Salmon. I bake mine. Plain and simple. I also love the Black Cod (Sablefish). My favorite is to bake it. The Halibut is awesome and guess what, I bake it too. With the halibut I put guacamole on the top of it just before serving. So yummy!”

Robin’s recipe for Alaskan cod will work perfectly for our halibut.

Oven Fried Alaskan Cod ~ dredge pieces in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, seasoned salt, garlic and onion powder. Dip dredged pieces in beaten egg white, then roll in panko crumbs seasoned with parsley, garlic powder & parmesan cheese. Place on well-sprayed cookie sheet and spray tops of fillets with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown & fish flakes easily (test for doneness).

Lynn says that she likes “a simple pan sear with some butter, lemon, garlic and salt and pepper.”

Jim in Wisconsin says, “I like to take one of my thawed Keta Salmon portions and bring it up to room temperature.  I then heat (number 6 on electric stove) up a small fry pan with some EVVO.  I then put the fish skin side up and let that sear and cool for a minute and a half.  Then turn over and put skin side down for another minute and a half.  Lightly salt and pepper after putting on a plate.I will have some veggies prepared (steamed Broccoli), and put 2 pieces of Ezekiel 7 grain sprouted bread in the toaster and spread with Smart Balance.”

Kat in Colorado says, “First off. We love your fish! All of them! My favorite way is in a parchment bag, you Can top it with a little dill and a lemon slice. If you like but it’s good just on its own. It’s nearly impossible to overcook using the parchment bag.”

Robert in Huntsville, Texas says, “We soak our salmon in milk after thawing, then we put our salmon in our Air Fryer for 12 min, remove the skin, and garnish with lemon………..It’s Fantastic!”

 John from Orlando, Florida recommends that you “take halibut fillets out of freezer, immerse in pan of cold water 20 minutes, open, rinse, pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle liberally with lemon pepper, cook in cast iron skillet medium / medium high heat 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil 4 to 5  minutes each side. Its great! Freezer to table in 35 minutes.”

Barry from Chicago says, “Poke your fish. When I think my salmon is near done I press down on the fish and if it flakes easily, I know that my salmon is done. If I don’t see the flake fall apart, I leave it to cook for a minute or two more.”

Betty in Washington DC likes to slather her salmon in whole grain mustard and bake. 

Rolf in Minneapolis says, “We’ve been grilling salmon on a gas grill for several years, trying out many different ideas, alder chips, brown sugar glazes and more.   The recipe we always go back to is to marinate king salmon portions a few hours then grill for 15 minutes or so at 425 degrees.

Be sure to thaw your Alaska Gold salmon portions  overnight in the refrigerator and pat dry before marinating.

Grill skin side down without flipping.

When cooked, take a spatula and separate the meat from the skin, leave skin on the grill.

Marinade is as follows:

1/3 cup soy sauce – we much prefer salt free

¼ cup orange juice concentrate

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon stone ground mustard

1-2 tablespoon chapped green onions

1 clove minced garlic

½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger root

Pretty simple – fish stays pretty moist and marinade adds some tang without overwhelming salmon flavor.”

Rosabel in Levittown, Pennsylvania says, “My family loves my tangerine salmon! So easy. A pinch of salt, ginger powder, honey to taste, basil leaves to cover and tangerine or pineapple chunks atop!  Sometimes I let it sit in the fridge and marinate before baking. Let it stand to room temperature and bake to taste. I like 325 for 15 minutes and dinner is done! YUMMY!” 

Nancy in Waldport, Oregon notes “Oh how we love the coho salmon portions and halibut portions! I offer our favorite recipes for both:

1) For the salmon, we are addicted to cooking with the skin on. We cook in a carbon steel pan over very high gas heat (a wok gas burner with 24,000 BTUs). With a little oil in the pan, cook the fish skin down until the fish EASILY moves around in the pan. The longest cooking time is on the skin side. When it will slide easily, you flip it over for a very short time, depending on the thickness. A flexible fish turner works very well.  The best way to cook fish is to use a digital thermometer that you stick into the fish. That way it can never be overdone. About 120 degrees is best. You can add at the end a chopped mash of garlic and capers if you want. Mmmmm!

2) For the halibut, we love a recipe found online for Alaskan halibut. It is called Poached Halibut in Thai Coconut Curry Broth. This has such a unique flavor and is just plain delicious with the halibut.”

Flexible fish turner
A flexible fish turner or a slotted offset spatula is an essential tool for every chef

Monica in Portland, Oregon notes, “My favorite way to fix my salmon and halibut is using minimal seasonings. For my salmon I bake it in the oven using olive oil, salt, pepper, freshly minced garlic and fresh rosemary. My halibut I cook in a skillet on the stove top with olive oil and salt and pepper. The fish I get from Alaska Gold is so good on its own, it doesn’t need much to taste delicious.” 

 Like a lot of us in the office, Robin in Jasper, Alabama likes to slow-cook her king salmon. “Cook at 200 degrees in oven for 45 minutes with olive oil and lemon.”

Longtime customer Joanna in Northridge, California says “Pan seared or baked with mustard and honey or maple syrup glaze. Yummy!”

Tim in Columbia Station, Ohio notes that “there are many similar online recipes for Black Cod/Sablefish/Butterfish. I make a marinade of Miso, sugar, Sake and rice vinegar. I brush two cod pieces with the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge overnight, saving some marinade for garnish. Wipe most the marinade from the fish and place in a med high heat, oiled skillet/fry pan. This fish only needs 3-4 minutes per side to cook…just a quick searing. Before serving I lightly drizzle with some of the remaining marinade.”

Note that if you get distracted and dinner plans change, you can keep marinating your black cod an extra day or two. Some people say that the ideal marinade time is at least 48 hours. Try it for yourself and see what marinade time you prefer for your sablefish. Also, 3-4 minutes per side will work, but you can cook much longer. It is nearly impossible to overcook sablefish because its oils are so thick!

A big congratulations to Lon in Mechanicsburg, Ohio who wrote to us: “Today is my last week before retirement after 39 years working at an agriculture firm here in Ohio. Even at 65 years old I am skipping like my grandchildren looking forward to life changes. I have been an Alaska Gold customer for a few years and the salmon is delicious.” Lon gets our bulk orders of coho salmon portions.  “Always a consistent taste of quality salmon that satisfies my hunger like no other. So my tip is for all folks ‘even thinking toward retirement’ to grill that Alaska Gold salmon with a huge smile! I am.”

Alan in New York City advises how to create “Michelin-Star Quality Fish.”

“How do the best restaurants in the world do fish? They get high quality ingredients, and do their best to highlight their delicious, natural flavors. This is the mindset you should have when cooking Alaska Gold Seafood. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Remove scales from skin. After you defrost the fish, remove any scales from the skin (if it has any). Use a paring knife and go against the grain. Do this in your sink, but not under running water. Water dilutes flavor and affects cooking time. You don’t want to do this.
  2. Prep – Extract Moisture. Your aim is to remove moisture (water) from the fish and make the natural flavors (fats and proteins) more intense. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Put onto a raised rack sheet (like what people use to cool their cookies after baking). Then use kosher sea salt over the skin. If there’s no skin, then just salt the top side. Optional: add a little bit of sugar to your salt.
  3. Prep – Bring to temperate. Leave the fish out as it comes to room temperature. This may take 10 min or so. As this happens, you will notice water coming to the surface of the fish (because the salt is drawing it out). Remove this moisture by gently patting the fish with a paper towel.
  4. Bring pan to temp. Stainless steel pan is ideal. A quality, heavy non-stick is ok. Start to heat the pan. Put in oil. Make sure the bottom of the pan is completely covered in oil. Sunflower seed oil is good if you want to cook fast and not impart any flavor onto the fish. Cooking in olive oil will give it an olive oil flavor, but will also take longer because it can’t be cooked as hot as the sunflower see. I like to cook salmon and sablefish in sunflower seed oil, and halibut in olive oil. If concerned about wasting oil, as long as you don’t burn it, the oil can be safely reused.
  5. Add fish. When oil is hot (it will shimmer), gently lay the fish into the pan. It should sizzle. If it’s not sizzling, bring the temp up ASAP. You want the oil to be popping. Sauté in french means “jump”, as in the oil is jumping.
  6. Cook fish. When the fish is in the pan. LEAVE IT ALONE. Don’t poke it, shift it, or flip it. Leave it alone! You aim is to cook it 100% on one side, and to never mess with it. Doing this will caramelize the proteins in a process called the maillard effect. This is where flavor comes from. Chef Gordon Ramsay has a great quote: “No color, no flavor”. 
  7. Control doneness. Because you’re not touching the fish, it’s going to get a nice caramelization on one side. But how do you cook the rest of the fish? Well, if it’s a thin piece of fish, the heat of the pan will likely cook it fine. For thicker fish, you control the doneness by scooping the oil out of the pan and pouring it on top of the fish. The hot oil will cook the fish. Do this as much as much as you want. 10 – 30 times. If you watch professional chefs, they do this very fast.
  8. Test doneness. Manage doneness by how it looks and feels. Gently touch the top of the fish. If it’s firm, it’s well-done. If it’s bouncy, it’s med. If it’s squishy, it’s med-rare / rare. 
  9. Rest. Just before the fish is cooked to your liking, remove it from the pan. The side facing the pan should be crispy or browned (if no skin). The crispness is what enables you to take it out (called “release”). Place it on a plate skin side up. Let it rest. Don’t poke it. It’s still cooking (called “carryover cooking”). How long it rests depends on the thickness of the fish. A thin coho fillet can be just 60 seconds. A thicker halibut piece can be 2 -3 min
  10. Optional acidity  – just before eating you can squeeze a little bit of lemon on there. Putting lemon zest is also another good option. It helps brighten the flavor.


If done correctly, you will have a perfectly cooked piece of fish. If it has skin, the skin will be like hard like a cracker.”

As you can see there many different approaches to preparing our Alaska Gold Seafood. If you need a recipe, we’ve got plenty of seafood recipes here. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you get stuck. All tastes are subjective and we can offer opinions that come from a lot of experience preparing Alaska Gold Seafood.

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Sweet Chili Keta Salmon Recipe

Sweet Chili Keta Salmon Recipe
Sweet Chili Salmon Recipe courtesy of Little Ferraro Kitchen


Our friend Samantha Ferraro is the author of The Weeknight Mediterranean Kitchen, a cookbook that extols the beauties of the Mediterranean diet with beautifully simple dishes and colorful photos. This Sweet Chili Keta Salmon recipe isn’t Mediterranean per se, but it’s a quick and impressive dinner that adds great flavor to the mild keta salmon. The sweet chili sauce is brushed on wild keta salmon to create a sweet and savory glaze.

2- Alaska Gold keta salmon portions (6 ounces each)

Salt and pepper

¼ cup sweet chili sauce

1 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. grated ginger

Sliced green onions

Sliced Fresno pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place salmon filets on a foil lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together sweet chili sauce, soy sauce and grated ginger and brush a heaping tablespoon of sauce onto each salmon filet, saving the rest of the sauce.

Bake salmon for 6 minutes and then place under the broiler for 1 minute so sauce will caramelize.

Brush additional chili sauce as soon as it comes out of the oven. Garnish with sliced green onions and sliced Fresno.

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Keta Salmon Curry with Lemongrass and Galanga Recipe

Wild Salmon Coconut Curry Recipe
Wild Salmon Coconut Curry Recipe from Samantha Ferraro of Little Ferraro Kitchen.

Our friend Samantha Ferraro is the author of The Weeknight Mediterranean Kitchen, a cookbook that extols the beauties of the Mediterranean diet with beautifully simple dishes and colorful photos.

This Keta Salmon Curry with Lemongrass and Galanga Recipe is not necessarily Mediterranean per se but borrows heavily from the colorful vegetable-forward beauty of Mediterranean cuisine. In this dish, wild keta salmon is poached with strong Thai flavors of ginger, galanga and lemongrass in a robust curry.

2 tbsp. coconut oil

1 small shallot, sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped finely

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

1 inch piece of galanga root, sliced

2 stalks of lemongrass, gently crushed

½ tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. ground curry powder

2 tbsp. panang or red curry paste

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 can coconut milk

2 Alaska Gold keta salmon portions (6 ounces each)

Salt and pepper

Lime wedges

Cilantro and mint leaves

Sliced Fresno pepper

Add coconut oil to a large skillet and being to medium-high heat. Add sliced shallot, garlic and jalapeno and sauté until shallot is translucent but not browned.

Stir in the ginger, galanga root, lemongrass, spices and curry paste and sauté for 30 seconds. Then add in brown sugar and coconut milk and stir to combine.

Nestle in the salmon and season with salt and pepper. Place a lid on the skillet and cook for 6-7 minutes until curry mixture has thickened slightly and salmon is cooked through.

Once done, you can flake the salmon for easier serving and garnish with fresh cilantro and mint leaves, sliced chili and lime wedges.

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Planked Wild Alaskan Salmon with Mediterranean Medley Recipe

Cedar Plank Wild Alaska Salmon

 

US News and World Report released rankings of best diets for 2019. The Mediterranean diet, which embraces lean meat like seafood, is praised as the most complete and balanced. Best for overall eating and easiest to follow, the Mediterranean diet is an ideal way to seek longer, healthier living.

This Planked Wild Alaskan Salmon with Mediterranean Medley Recipe makes use of Mediterranean herbs and our wild salmon. Check out our friend Samantha Ferraro’s The Weeknight Mediterranean Kitchen cookbook for more Mediterranean recipes.

Ingredients

Alaska Gold Cedar Plank
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons of one of the following: fresh marjoram, Thai basil, basil, or oregano
3 to 4  Wild Alaskan Coho Salmon portions (6 ounces each)
1/2 lemon
Seasoned salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

 

Instructions

Soak cedar plank in water 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Blend herbs.

Pat wood plank with paper towels and spray-coat or lightly oil one side.  Lay Salmon portions on coated side of plank skin-down.  Squeeze lemon juice on salmon portions. Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Pat/rub 1 to 2 tablespoons herb blend on each salmon portion or all onto salmon side.  Let the salmon rest 5 minutes before cooking.

Heat grill to medium-high heat.  Grill salmon using indirect heat (not directly over heat) in covered grill for 10 to 15 minutes.  Cook just until salmon is opaque throughout.

**

Chef’s Tip: This recipe works great whether you use a plank or cook straight on the grill.  Or, bake at 400°F (6 to 7 inches from heat source) for 10 to 15 minutes.

**

Recipe and photo courtesy of Alaska Seafood

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Paul’s Chowder Recipe with Easy Salmon and Halibut

Easy Salmon Chowder
The boat sways too much to get a picture like this, so here’s what the chowder looks like in a studio setting.

Dear Alaska Gold Customer,

Many of you we’ve never spoken a word to. With others, you call in, tell us about your families, your dinners, your recipes, your pets, your favorite musicians, the weather where you live, and many other things. We know some of you pretty well. To some of you, we’re like the local fish monger, who you go chat with while buying fish although, in most cases, we’re far away.

Megan and I will even occasionally have customers on the phone ask us if we’re fishermen, too. The short answer is no. We’re too busy fielding calls, answering emails, making sure fish gets to the right place. We work for the fishermen.

However, I spent some time this summer on a trolling boat with one of our fishermen/owners, Carter Hughes, who fishes on the 36-foot F/V Astrolabe. I did my best as a deckhand, learning the tricks of the trade, seeing the fishing life up close and personal. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

Over the next few months, I’ll share some stories from my journal that details my days out trolling for salmon.

Today, since there’s snow on the ground, I wanted to share a story from my journal about a delicious chowder I had out to sea that warmed my heart. Paul’s Chowder.

July 24th

We pass Cape Amelia and Sea Lion Rocks, watching sea lions hauling out on the prehistoric-looking coast.

Baranof Island is 90 miles long and Kruzof maybe 25 miles. Kruzof looks so tiny on a map, but it takes hours to make our way to Salisbury Sound, which separates Kruzof from Chichagof Island.

Chichagof and Baranof are two of the ABC islands (Admiralty being the third) the most densely populated areas for coastal brown bears on the planet. Kruzof, though smaller and uninhabited–a few logging roads and forest service cabins here and there—also has plenty of brown bear. It’s a wild coast where the rare Alaskan surfer or hunter might tread a path through the dense wilderness in pursuit of adventure.

“It looks small on a map because Alaska is so huge,” Carter nudges me into an epiphany that repeats itself every time I’m up in the 49th state. Big Country.

By 1:30, we can see the Khaz Peninsula in sight of a cove in which Carter is planning to anchor.

At the helm of a salmon fishing boat
Carter at the helm

A little before 6, Carter aims the auto-pilot to tack toward the tiny islands surrounding the Khaz Peninsula and Khaz Head, an imposing peak that looks down at us. We continue trolling while Carter cooks dinner, a halibut/salmon chowder, the recipe for which came from Paul Olson, who fishes on the F/V Pacific Flyer, and is an environmental lawyer when he’s not out trolling. In our co-op, fishermen bring a whole range of backgrounds—there are lots of schoolteachers, a few former investment bankers, even a retired astronaut. Carpenters, chemists, poets, lifers (those who represent multiple generations in the fishing business). We have a few fishermen/owners who hail from New York City who gave up that fast-paced life of riches for the rich life of Sitka Sound. A few decades ago, a Swiss banker turned author and his world-touring concert pianist spouse made their way to Sitka to live this unique lifestyle, too–their children continue the fishing tradition.

Looking out at Slocum Arm and Khaz Peak on Chichagof Island.

Fishing is still one of those last refuges where you can be about as close as possible, at least in 2017, to a free and wild existence that truly demands just about everything. Those who seek it out are truly hardy souls, but they’re rewarded with the sights of some beautiful country and working in a profession that means something at the end of the day. We feed people. Which is sacred.

We pull the gear before 8. Fairly slow fishing with no feed in the water that we can see. We were struggling to get out of a dead zone that seemed to be following us. We felt better once we stopped, knowing that tomorrow would be another day.

I’ve been blessed with good weather on this trip, but a slight drizzle mixed with the wind chills my bones.

Paul’s chowder is the perfect tonic to warm me up and I wolf it down. Carter shows me his journal where he had scrawled the recipe.

 

Ingredients:

Halibut (one 8-oz portion)

Bacon (two or three strips)

Easy Salmon—one 1-pound package (Our Easy Salmon can be used in combination or in lieu of the bacon)

1/2 onion, diced

4-6 red potatoes, diced

2 Carrots, diced

4 cups Chicken broth

1 cup cream (milk or half & half will be too thin)

1 Celery stock, diced

Fresh Tarragon

Thyme

Dill

Black Pepper

Instructions:

Cook bacon pieces separately. Heat 1 to 2 cups chicken broth. At same time saute veggies in olive oil. Add bacon to chicken broth and mix in some thyme, tarragon and dill. When veggies are 2/3 done, add to chicken broth and spike again with chopped seasonings. When veggies are fully cooked spike again with chopped seasonings and add Easy Salmon and halibut. When fish is cooked add cream and simmer for 15 minutes (don’t boil cream!).

Carter is quite a cook and I look forward to sharing more galley recipes and fishing stories from the F/V Astrolabe over the next few months.

Stay warm and stay in touch,

KendallSeafood Chowder Recipe