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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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Quality over Quantity

Quality Seafood
Fresh King Salmon.

Since 1944, Seafood Producers Cooperative has had a Relentless Commitment to Quality Seafood.

Owned and operated by small boat hook and line fishermen who fish the waters of the North Pacific, we take great pride in getting the best Quality Seafood to our customers.

Our cooperative members, hook and line fishermen, have family members that serve as deck hands. Being in tight quarters on a small boat takes a lot of patience and is usually something family operations do best. These aren’t factory boats that use mass extraction methods. A small boat using hook and line methods can more easily target a species. and as a result there is  a much smaller by-catch. Great care is taken when handling each and every fish. We catch One Fish At A Time, producing Quality Seafood. 

Only a small percentage—less than 5%—of Alaska salmon comes from trollers, but what troll-caught salmon lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality.

As a co-op of hook and line fishermen, we work on a smaller scale and have a deeper connection with the ocean than larger corporations that use mass extraction methods. We revere traditional approaches to fishing that don’t do long-term damage to fisheries and the ocean. Working on a smaller scale means that we can be more transparent. We can look customers in the eye and tell them where we fished and how we fished.

Quality seafood is the cornerstone of our cooperative. 70 years ago, a group of Alaskan halibut fishermen realized that the best way to ensure that their products were delivered with quality from ocean to market was to process their own fish with their strict standards. The dogged pride of our cooperative members in delivering Quality Seafood to our customers has ensured our longevity as a cooperative.

Quality Seafood
Fresh Halibut.

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Hook and line seafood: The highest quality seafood

Hook and Line Seafood

Hook and line seafood: The highest quality seafood

Traditional hook and line fishing methods reduce by-catch and produce a tastier fish.

Most of the people we meet can understand that catching fish using hook and line methods reduces by-catch, the unwanted catch that occurs when using mass extraction fishing methods. What people don’t seem to understand is how hook and line fishing methods produce a fresher tasting, better fish.

To us Seafood Producers Cooperative fishermen, the word “troll” has a favorable and proud connotation. However, those outside of Alaska and/or the fishing industry might not have such a favorable  impression of the word “troll,” even when used in context of “troll-caught salmon.”

Hook and line seafood: The highest quality seafood.
Salmon trollers leaving Sitka harbor.

It is  possible that many of our potential customers confuse the lesser known “troll” fishery with the more well-known but negatively regarded “trawl” fishery.

However, salmon caught on hook and line, more technically known by those in the industry as “trolling,” are of superior quality, especially when handled with SPC’s strict handling procedures, because they are caught on the open ocean when their natural oil content, color and texture are at their peak. They are handled  One Fish At A Time with the utmost of care.

Our line-caught albacore is caught when the younger albacore are actively feeding, consuming a quarter of its weight each day, making the fish juicy in healthy oils and more beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids than older, larger net-caught albacore from warmer waters.  Omega-3s are associated with reducing the risks or effects of heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, arthritis, lupus and other diseases.  Also, many people who generally do not like fish still enjoy the mild taste of line-caught albacore.

In contrast, fish not caught on hook and line, fish caught using mass extraction methods, pile up on a boat’s deck. These fish might be dead for hours in a net before they are handled. Salmon caught using mass extraction methods often are caught right by a river’s mouth, so that the salmon might be going through the morphological changes that take place before they spawn. These changes in their bodies when approaching their spawning rivers give the salmon an off-taste. Or what we would call the “salmon stank” that those not fans of salmon tend to mention in their reasons for not liking salmon.

Hook and line seafood: The highest quality seafood.

 

Hook and line seafood: The highest quality seafood.
Those who know use hook and line seafood.

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One by One Seafood: Hand-caught Salmon

Troll-caught Salmon
One by One Seafood: Hand-caught Salmon

Our Hook and Line fishermen catch fish One Fish At A Time. Here is what catching and handling fish One by One looks like shot by Captain Lynn Steyaart’s F/V Honeywilya, where they produce hand-caught salmon and enjoy the sights and sounds of beautiful Southeast Alaska where they see whales and other life. Our salmon trollers live by this motto. One by One Seafood: Hand-caught salmon. This video captures that spirit.

It’s clear our fishermen not only catch fish, but they are the navigators, mechanics, shipwrights, processors and…video editors!

 

We small boat hook and line fishermen catch and process One Fish At A Time. This is a traditional way of fishing that results in an extremely high quality fish. Our fish are caught, bled, processed and put on ice within minutes of being caught. One by One Seafood: Hand-caught Salmon means you get a quality product every time.

Here’s how it works:

Each of us fishermen has techniques that we have gained over many years and sometimes passed along in families through generations of fishing. Using our knowledge of where freely migrating fish might be, we fishermen head out and, once at waters we deem to be appropriate for weather and tide conditions, troll with lures or baited hooks at slow speeds. Typically, we try to troll at the speed that the fish we are catching would be swimming. This not only makes the lures more appealing but minimizes stress on the fish, making for a better quality fish. Through years of trial and error, we fishermen have found the right combination of line, lures and boat speeds to find the right fish.

We hook and line fishermen have a deep connection with the ocean and an expansive knowledge of where and how to find the biting fish. Once a fish is on the line, we know what type of fish it is and its size. We  minimize bycatch with our knowledge of where to fish and by pinpointing species with the right lures. We bring the fish to the boat and deliver it onto the boat at the exact moment to avoid any damage to the fish. Once aboard, we bleed and gut the fish immediately. Blood and guts are the first parts of a fish to decompose, so our quick processing results in the highest quality fish. Icing or blast freezing the fish captures the fish in its freshest state so that you can enjoy it on land.

One Fish At A Time produces the best quality fish and is good for the overall health of the fisheries.

Troll-caught Salmon
One Hook. One Fish At A Time.

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What makes Alaska Gold Salmon special?

Line-caught king salmon.

Alaska Gold Salmon from Seafood Producers Cooperative are line-caught on the open ocean when their natural oil content and texture are at their peak.  Because Alaska Gold™ king and coho salmon are caught on hook and line, they are by definition actively feeding and at the prime of their life cycle—bright with the freshest taste, the purest color, firm skin, perfect texture, and silky flavor. Since each fish is handled one fish at a time, great care is put into cleaning the fish and freezing them as possible.

Line-caught salmon
Ocean-bright salmon.

Only a small percentage—less than 5%—of Alaska salmon are caught on hook and line, but what line-caught Alaska Gold Salmon lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality.

No fish is handled with more care from the time it leaves the water until it is delivered to a customer than a line-caught Alaska Gold Salmon from Seafood Producers Cooperative. As a fishermen’s cooperative owned and operated by fishermen, we have a relentless commitment to quality.

Our meticulous handling methods make for the best tasting fish available. Alaska Gold Salmon are cleaned and stowed in a matter of minutes after being caught,  locking in their fresh from the ocean flavors. Being quickly cleaned as soon as they make it to the deck of the boat stops the process that creates off flavors common in fish that aren’t handled with the same level of care. Line-caught Alaska Gold Salmon are handled One Fish At A Time. This difference in the way the fish are handled means that a Alaska Gold Salmon caught on hook and line makes for a premium-quality product with the freshest taste.

Our relentless commitment to quality begins with the careful handling of our catch the moment it comes on board and continues all the way to when our customers receive our products and beyond, as so many of our customers have been loyal to us for years for that extra personal touch that we provide to everyone who orders.

 

 

 

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Strictly A Salmon Troller

Wild Salmon. Hand-caught Alaska salmon
Fishing with Tom Fisher, Salmon Troller.

The appropriately named Tom Fisher has literally spent his entire life fishing Southeast Alaska.

Born and raised in Ketchikan, at age 13 he got himself an 18-foot skiff. It all started when his dad told him to fill the smokehouse. And that Tom did.

And during the process, he had an epiphany:

If he caught enough salmon, people would pay him to fish. Just about anybody’s dream come true. “I’m one of the luckiest guys on Earth! Other people don’t get to do this.”

Now Tom’s a board member for Seafood Producers Cooperative and catching salmon for purchase on the Alaska Gold website.

Tom is strictly a salmon troller. “I still marvel at the magic of salmon. They’re just so resilient. The wandering life they lead. The whole idea that they take this wild journey miles and miles to return back to where they were born in order to die. It’s just too much. Salmon are the barometer of our ecosystem. When we catch and  eat a wild salmon, that is nature’s true reward. ”

Like just about all of our cooperative owners, small boat hook and line fishermen, what Tom likes most about being a troller is the freedom. He loves the challenge of finding fish. He likes it when it’s rough.

Alaska salmon, wild salmon
Fishing in the snow. Southeast Alaska.

When asked about why he’s a member of a fishermen’s cooperative, Tom responds: “Because at the end of the day, my work is compensated fairly. I get the fairest price for my fish. I take great pride in workmanship and the co-op also takes pride in quality.

Like other small boat fishermen, Tom believes salmon trollers are the ocean’s best friends. “A healthy ocean is healthy for me.” We don’t want to damage our livelihoods. We are the Eyes of the Ocean. “A lot of us trollers know more than most scientists because we’ve lived our entire lives on the ocean.”

Through most of his fishing career, which has spanned 40+ years, Tom fished by himself with no deckhand. “That way I can be closer to nature.” I am the shipwright, mechanic, navigator and cook. Everything means more when you can do it yourself. “There’s more company on the ocean than in a city. It’s just teeming with life.”

tom himself

Tom’s current boat, the Carol W, was build by Finns in Astoria in 1939. Its cedar hull was restored recently.

Carol W, salmon trolling boat.
Carol W, salmon trolling boat.

wild salmon, alaska salmon, small boat fishermen
Carol W, salmon trolling boat

Wild salmon, Alaska salmon
Carol W, salmon trolling boat.

The Carol W being restored
The Carol W being restored

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High-quality fish requires special handling

Just how long does it take for Alaska Gold salmon to be fully processed?

At Seafood Producers Cooperative, we’re very proud of how we handle fish and our reputation for extremely high quality fish is well-known among high-end retailers around the world. But you really have to see our fishermen in action to believe it.

Our photographer spent the day on the Tammy Lin and had a very difficult time photographing Captain George Eliason’s deck hands—Casey Menadelook and George’s nephew Garrett Eliason— in action. They’re just too fast!

Deck hands Garrett Eliason and Casey Menadelook in action on the Tammy Lin.
Deck hands Garrett Eliason and Casey Menadelook in action on the Tammy Lin.

Incredibly efficient, professional, and mature beyond their years, Casey and Garrett woke from their naps once Captain George Eliason picked a spot to drop lines in the water for a day of coho fishing. Like clockwork, not a word was spoken between them, as they readied the fishing lines, incredibly focused on the task at hand: Catching coho salmon.

Garrett focusing on the lines.

Captain George Eliason has them well-trained to get the fish gutted, cleaned and processed in a matter of a few minutes. It was a real blur to photograph and we had to ask Casey and Garrett to slow down to get a decent picture or two.

So, back to our original question: Just how long does it take for SPC fish to be fully processed?

On the Tammy Lin, fish are headed, gutted, bled, and sent to the freezer hold at 40 below zero so fast that the fish’s heart is still beating on deck when the fish’s natural ocean fresh flavors are locked in in the Tammy Lin’s frozen storage hold. High-quality fish requires special handling — they need to be caught alive, bled immediately, and iced before rigor mortis can set in.

One fish being bled using the micro-pipette method and another just making it onto the boat. One Fish At A Time.
One fish being bled using the micro-pipette method and another just making it onto the boat. One Fish At A Time.

When these fish are thawed, they are fresher than fresh. They maintain the freshness of a fish with its heart still beating.

This freshness is unparalleled in the seafood industry. Less than 5% of Alaska’s salmon are troll-caught. What troll-caught salmon lose in quantity, they more than make up for in quality.

Garrett was too quick with a knife. It was hard for him to oblige the photographer and go slow.
Garrett was too quick with a knife. It was hard for him to oblige the photographer and go slow.

The head cut and gut cleaning are key in producing a premium quality fish.

Blood and guts are the first things in an animal to start decomposing.

On the Tammy Lin, thanks to Captain George Eliason’s hardworking deck hands, fish are gutted and bled within minutes. Their hearts are still beating after the fish is bled. The cuts are clean. The boat is spotless. While the rest of the seafood industry PhotoShops out  their processes, we don’t. We’re proud of what we do. The SPC difference in how we handle our fish is what makes such an outstanding product.

Utter concentration.
Utter concentration.

There are some trollers who eat the first beating heart of a salmon at the start of a fishing voyage. Casey and Garrett didn’t bother with this tradition. They were too busy working. Garrett started his sophomore year at Sitka High School last week. Casey, 18, from Nome, is still out fishing with George Eliason, captain of the Tammy Lin, one of the hardest working boats in the industry.

The Tammy Lin delivering to the SPC plant in Sitka, Alaska.
The Tammy Lin delivering to the SPC plant in Sitka, Alaska.

 

With deck hands like Garrett and Casey, Captain George Eliason puts his hands up and says…

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A Better Way to Buy Fish

A Better Way to Buy Fish: 5 Reasons To Get Fish From A Fishermen’s Co-op

When you buy fish from a fishermen’s cooperative, you get your fish from a fisherman. We fishermen are the owners and operators of Seafood Producers Cooperative (SPC). From boat to plate, we take great pride in delivering our order to you. Your fish goes from the water to your plate in the most direct path possible.

We fishermen take great pride in what we do.

So, the first reason to get fish from a fishermen’s cooperative is that the fish is taking the most direct path from boat to plate.

Reason #1: Fish from a Fishermen’s Cooperative goes to the customer in the most direct path from boat to plate

Reason #2:  SPC Cooperative fish is MADE IN THE USA.

91% of seafood purchased in the United States is  imported and up to a third of that is product of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Essentially pirate fish. And pirate fishermen are destroying the world’s fisheries by overfishing.

SPC fish is caught in the waters of the North Pacific, much of it in waters off Alaska, the world’s model for sustainable fisheries. Alaska is the only state with a mandate for sustainable seafood written right into its State Constitution. All fisheries are carefully managed so that our grandchildren can fish the same way that we do. In addition, all of the fish offered for sale by SPC on this web site are from fisheries that are MSC-certified and listed as Best Choice or Green on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

We SPC fishermen fish the most beautiful waters on the planet!
We SPC fishermen fish the most beautiful waters on the planet!

Reason #3: Even when supermarket fish claims to be caught in Alaskan waters, much of it is processed in China.

SPC fishermen take great pride in the fish we bring our customers. We would never process our fish in China. We have skin in the game. We have one processing plant. With very rigorous quality standards. And this plant is in the US of A.

Seafood Producers Cooperative. A sign of quality.
Seafood Producers Cooperative. A sign of quality at our plant in Sitka, Alaska. US of A.

Reason #4: We fish with hook and line in a traditional, artisan way.

Only a small percentage—less than 5%—of Alaska seafood comes from hook and line methods (aka trolling), but what troll-caught fish lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality.

A troll-caught fish is a superior product and is the most premium quality fish on the market. No fish is handled with more care from the time it leaves the water until it is delivered to a customer than a troll-caught fish. At SPC we are particularly fastidious with our handling procedures. Fish are quickly bled, stopping the degradation process that begins in a net-caught fish long before it even makes it to the boat deck. Troll-caught fish don’t pile up on the boat deck. They are handled One Fish At A Time and are iced and stowed in a matter of minutes while many net-caught fish are dead long before they even reach the deck of a boat. This difference in the way the fish are handled means that a hook and line caught fish makes for a premium-quality product with a fresher taste.

Troll-caught salmon are also harvested in the open ocean and therefore are “brights,” that is, they are actively feeding and therefore not undergoing the changes in morphology that a spawning salmon is undergoing. Once these changes in their bodies start taking place, a salmon will have an off taste. Net-caught fish are caught closer to rivers, where these changes in their bodies are taking place. They are not actively feeding. For these reasons, a troll-caught salmon is pound for pound the most valuable of the Alaska salmon, and is the most premium-quality fish available.

We really take great pride in what we do.
We really take great pride in what we do.

Reason #5: Fishermen’s cooperative members have a vested interest to produce the highest quality fish for our customer because they are the owners and the operators of the cooperative!

Cooperatives make the world a better place by adhering to the 7 cooperative principles. For us, these principles are sacred and we believe that they support the communities that we live in.

Check out our online store and get the world’s best seafood.

SE Alaska. The most beautiful waters on the planet.

 

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Troll-caught salmon

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Alaska Gold™ wild salmon are line-caught One Fish At A Time using traditional hook and line methods (aka trolling). Troll-caught salmon are known for ultra-premium quality and sustainability. By catching salmon on hook and line, fishermen have time to carefully handle the salmon and clean it with the utmost of care, producing the freshest taste. If you’ve had our salmon, you’ll know that it’s better than any salmon available and that’s because it is troll-caught. A troll-caught salmon is  the ultimate in Alaska seafood.

troll-caught salmon
Individually handled, troll-caught salmon are the best salmon available on the market.

Troll-caught salmon are caught on the open ocean, which means they are bright with shimmering silver skin color and have very high fat content and flesh quality. Troll-caught salmon are quickly bled using a micro-pipette to get out every speck of blood, stopping the degradation process that begins the moment a fish leaves the water. Troll-caught salmon are handled One Fish At A Time and are iced and stowed in a matter of minutes. This careful way in which they are handled means that a troll-caught salmon makes for a premium-quality product with a fresher taste. Troll-caught salmon are the choice for chefs wanting to serve the highest quality seafood.

No fish is handled with more care from the time it leaves the water until it is delivered to a customer than a troll-caught salmon from Alaska Gold Seafood. AlaskaGoldBrand.com is where fish caught by Seafood Producers Cooperative members can be purchased for convenient home delivery with free shipping. Seafood Producers Cooperative is a cooperative of quality-oriented hook and line fishermen and is widely regarded as the industry leader in quality standards.

 

line-caught salmon
Ocean-bright troll-caught salmon.

 

 

Troll-caught salmon
Cleaning salmon right after being caught. Photo courtesy of Alaska Seafood.

 

Alaska salmon
Action shot. One Fish At A Time. Photo courtesy of Alaska Seafood.