Our Southeast Alaska line-caught ivory king salmon is packed in a can with a few grains of salt and is so unbelievably delicious that it might catch you off-guard. At the office, on the trail, leaving the gym, or a simple lunch at home, you can pop open the can and dig in for a 1300 mg of Omega-3s, 41 grams of protein, 45% of the daily recommendation for vitamin D, and all the other wonderful nutrients that king salmon provide.
Long before we had the Alaska Gold Seafood retail website to sell fish to home consumers, the Seafood Producers Cooperative business office received calls from people wanting us to ship them our cases of our gourmet canned tuna that they had bought at the store. It’s difficult to put a label on a fresh fish in a fish market case, but our canned tuna labels had an address on them and people tracked us down to get this delicious canned tuna delivered to their homes. They knew it was that good.
Now we are super-proud to announce our canned ivory king salmon, which is as ridiculously good as our canned tuna.
Ivory king salmon and red king salmon are the same species (Onchorhynchus tshawytscha), but ivory king salmon have a unique color. Only a very tiny percentage of king salmon (roughly ~4 %) have a unique genetic anomaly, a missing enzyme, that make them unable to metabolize the pigments in krill, which give other salmon their orange-ish pink-ish salmon color. Because of this inability to digest and break down and store the redder crustaceans, wild ivory king salmon prey on more oily fish, like herring and needlefish, making them whiter. And folk wisdom says that their unique diet gives them an extra dose of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids that our bodies need.
Because of their pale color, ivory king salmon tend to be shunned by wholesale buyers. In the old days–when fishermen hand-trolled on 18-foot vessels rigged with oar and sail and their fishing lines were made of cotton and they slept under tarps on the bows of their boats–fish buyers didn’t buy ivory king salmon. So, fishermen would keep them for themselves. Which is why we call the 6-ounce wild ivory king salmon portions our Alaska Gold “Fishermen’s Choice.” Nowadays, chefs in high-end restaurants in places like Seattle and New York appreciate the special buttery-ness of ivory king salmon.
Fisherman Charlie Piercy has been an owner of Seafood Producers Cooperative for over 30 years. Of all the fish in the North Pacific Ocean, Charlie prefers ivory king salmon. Charlie’s preference for ivory king salmon isn’t unique among our fishermen owners. So many Alaskan fishermen prefer ivory king salmon over any other salmon because of its rich, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
“I eat our canned ivory king salmon straight out of the can on the boat,” Charlie says. “There’s something special about ivory kings. They tend to leap out of the water more. They feel different on the wire,” Charlie notes in reference to the trolling wire that hook and line fishermen use to put their hooks on.
Like a lot of Seafood Producers Cooperative owners, Charlie came to fishing from a completely different vocation. Lots of our members are former teachers, physicists, or artists. We even have a former astronaut who fishes for the co-op! Charlie used to be a chemical engineer in Port Angeles but came to fishing because of the unique lifestyle.
Charlie’s wife Sally is also a very crucial part of the fishing operation, so in a sense they are a “Mom and Pop operation.” Charlie and Sally started hand trolling summer 1978 in a 16-foot skiff, the “Edris E.” They moved up to a 19-foot homemade kit cabin-cruiser, the “Slithery D” for about 3 years, and they began power trolling on the 37-foot “F/V Ann” in 1983. Charlie started fishing full-time in southeast Alaska in summer 1986 and bought their current boat, the 42-foot “F/V Tuckahoe” in fall 1986. As Sally notes, “all 3 kiddos crewed at various times over the years, which is why about a dozen years ago, Charlie declared us a Mom and Pop operation, as I join him for a part of most summers.”
Charlie is a big believer in our canned ivory king salmon, which keeps him going all season on the boat, where he might not have time to cook. “I bring some of my ivory kings to my pharmacist friend in Ketchikan who enjoys them and cans them to eat all winter. But I thought we should be selling our canned ivory king salmon through our co-op’s retail website.”
This canned ivory king salmon is a unique treat to be savored. Too often “convenience foods” sacrifice quality. A compromise in values is implied when food becomes “easy” and “fast.” But this isn’t necessarily so. Sometimes the simplest foods are not only the best foods; they can also be the most convenient foods. And our canned ivory king salmon offers both convenience and elegance.
Eat straight out of the can or mix with 1-11/2 cups mango salsa, 2 tsp oil, salt and pepper, and make into either sandwich or an appetizer with whole wheat crackers. Another fishing friend offered this recipe, which she called the “White Salmon Bistro Salad.” She notes, “The canned ivory king salmon is very delicate and not chunky at all. I combined it with tarragon and a little mayonnaise and then served it on a plate with lettuce, celery, onions, white kidney beans, edamame, tomatoes, etc. with a oil/vinegar dressing, and some fruit with rosemary crackers and a nice Sauvignon Blanc – very good!” Our canned ivory king salmon is a super-convenient way to enjoy ivory king salmon while on-the-go, either hiking, vacationing, or out on a boat in Southeast Alaska fishing. It’s also fine enough for a Bistro Salad!