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Alaska Gold Seafood at the Food & Farm Film Fest in San Francisco

Our Seafood Producers Cooperative was recently featured at The 2018 Food & Farm Film Fest in San Francisco. We presented a film about our  producer-owned co-op, and the wild salmon our producers catch  “Tasting Wild Alaska” directed by Sitka’s Liz MacKenzie. We also enjoyed some other wonderful films that displayed the intersection of art and food.

The sold-out Roxie Theater was packed and bristling with energy. The funds raised by the Festival support Cooking Matters, a program that teaches low-income families how to shop for and cook delicious, healthy food.

Wild Alaska Salmon Video

 

Attending the festival for us was a reminder that food stories are people stories. Food and the people who produce and cook food are driven by love and passion.

We really admired James Q. Chan’s “Bloodline,” a  film about Top Chef Tu David Phu and the story behind his family’s culinary legacy, their lives as refugees from Vietnam, and how his parents taught him the secrets of fish and influenced Chef Tu to become who he is today.

Through the camera lens of filmmaker Liza Mosquito deGuia we met Tommaso Conte, chef and founder of D’Abruzzo, an award-winning New York City food vendor specializing in Abruzzese cuisine from Italy. Conte’s passion is the same passion that our seafood producers bring when they are fishing and taking the extra time and work into producing a spectacular fish for your plate.

“Great! Lakes,” a film  about a family-run small scale candy maker in Knife River, Minnesota depicts the craft of making memorable and special food by a family that stays authentic to who they are. We had some of their candy at the after-party and it was to die for.

These were just a taste of the films we saw at the festival. Going to the festival was a reminder to share more of our producers’ stories with you. Which we will. Stay tuned. And thanks for following our stories and supporting our organization.

Enjoy Thanksgiving!

The Folks at Alaska Gold Seafood

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The Most Underrated Alaska Seafood Item We Sell

Our Alaska Gold Easy Salmon sneaks by many of our Alaska Gold customers.

But a number of customers have caught on to this fantastic way to get a high-quality wild salmon in their routines at a reasonable price.

Our Alaska Gold Easy Salmon, , which is the same salmon we use for our coho salmon portions, is just minced into an easy-to-use ground salmon meat in one-pound packs.

Check out what others have said about our Easy Salmon, which is the same salmon we use for our coho salmon portions, just minced into an easy-to-use ground salmon meat in one-pound packs.

“We have loved regularly receiving Alaska Gold salmon for our family. We thought that we would try the Easy Salmon and see how we liked it, even though we love the fillets. We couldn’t be happier. It is so very easy and quick and extremely versatile. The taste is also delicious. It has made adding seafood into our diet even easier. Now, I always want my freezer stocked with this Easy Salmon! Once again, thank you Alaska Gold Seafood!!”

“Let me just say that my order was over the top fabulous the fish is amazing, the minced coho
made into salmon burgers was over the moon delicious.”

Easy Salmon Cakes Recipe
Easy Salmon Cakes

“I made my first batch of salmon cakes following the recipe I found on the Alaska Gold website and OMG! I was skeptical at first but I’m truly converted: the minced salmon is amazing with no variation in flavor whatsoever […] [T]he easy salmon is delicious and yes, easy to prepare. It took 30 minutes from preparation to sautéing! Dinner in a snap and tasty too!”

“I recently received my first delivery of Easy Salmon. I couldn’t wait to try the Easy Salmon Cakes recipe shown on the Alaska Gold website. The recipe was easy to follow and came out just like the photo – beautiful! My husband and I were amazed with the texture and fresh taste of the Easy Salmon. Ideas of using the Easy Salmon have been spinning in my head. So I came up with Easy Thai Salmon Meatballs with a red coconut sauce recipe. They came out delicious!.”

“First, I am on a very limited budget, but demand the best from my food. I am thrilled with the Alaska Easy Salmon I ordered last time. It is a versatile way to order the salmon as so many different dishes can be prepared with it. Of course, one can’t go wrong with a traditional salmon patty, but I also like to add some to my morning omelet. Even hubby, who does not like salmon, eats this salmon with gusto. Thanks Alaska Gold!”

 

 

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Why wild? Why Alaska?—– Wild Alaska Salmon

Salmon returning to Indian River in downtown Sitka, Alaska.

“The bears, eagles, and trees here in Southeast are the salmon […] These forests are where the ocean comes to die–and to be reborn.”

The Salmon in the Trees by Amy Gulick

If you’ve ever been to Southeast Alaska in the late summer, you know that it’s just teeming with life. Bears are out. Birds are flocking to the skies. Whale spouts aren’t difficult to spot. Snow-capped mountains, endless bays and inlets fill the landscape. The rivers are full of salmon returning to spawn. And these salmon are precisely the reason behind all of the other life that comes out to play during the Alaska summer.

The salmon are the fertilizer upon which all other things grow. As a keystone species in the Tongass Rainforest in Southeast Alaska, salmon bring marine nutrients inland and provide an important food resource for a variety of animals. They also increase the productivity of nearby plants and forests. Mammals from mice to grizzly bears feast on spawning salmon. So do bald eagles and ravens, as do many other birds.Birds and mammals fly off with or drag carcasses into surrounding forests, bringing marine-derived nutrients for the forests around salmon-bearing streams, which tend to be much healthier when salmon are present. 137 species in the Tongass Rainforest depend on wild salmon!

Wild Alaska salmon is the canary in the coal mine for the entire region. Wild salmon is the pulse of places like the Tongass Rain Forest in Southeast Alaska. And eating wild salmon caught by small boat fishermen from Southeast Alaska supports these coastal communities and ecosystems. 

 

Brown Bear.
Brown Bear.

Salmon, like other wild seafood, is the last commercially available wild meat. Watching a salmon jump up a ten-foot waterfall illustrates the wildness that’s part of us. It’s the pure joy. Pure life in its most elemental form. When we eat this wild salmon, we’re being infused with this wild energy. That is the essence of wild Alaska salmon. 

Despite thriving salmon fisheries in Alaska that could easily feed the entirety of the nation and then some, more than three-quarters of it is exported. We, as Americans, are not getting our recommended 2-3 heart-healthy seafood servings per week, while Alaska is literally the wild seafood breadbasket of the world. The good stuff literally swims away.   

Humpback whale tale.
Humpback whale tale. Photo by EmmaFrisch.com
Wild Southeast Alaska.
Wild Southeast Alaska.
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Baked Coho Salmon with Tamari Peach Salsa Recipe

Coho Salmon with Peach Salsa
Baked Coho Salmon with Tamari Peach Salsa Recipe. Photo by Food Network Star top finalist Emma Frisch at emmafrisch.com.

 

Here’s a Baked Coho Salmon with Tamari Peach Salsa Recipe from our friend and Food Network Star Top Finalist, Emma Frisch. For more recipes, visit her blog at emmafrisch.com. Emma lives in Ithaca, New York, where she is the Co-Founder and Culinary Director of Firelight Camps, an elevated camping experience.

Emma spent some time with us at the Sitka Seafood Festival and on fisherman Charlie Wilber‘s boat and learned about what is unique about what our hook and line fishermen do in getting salmon from the sea to our customer’s homes and she shares her stories along with the recipe in her post.

Baked Coho Salmon with Tamari Peach Salsa Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Yield: 8-10 portions
Ingredients:
1 Alaska Gold™ Coho Salmon Fillet 
Peach – 1, diced into 1/4-inch cubes (sub with 10 oz. peach jam)
Tamari sauce – 2 tablespoons (sub with soy sauce)
Brown rice vinegar – 2 teaspoons (sub with lemon juice)
Pickled ginger – 1 teaspoon minced (or sub with fresh ginger)
Garlic – 1 clove, minced
Jalapeño (optional) – 1/2 teaspoon minced
Sea salt – 1/4 teaspoon
Black pepper – To taste
Instructions:
1. Remove the Coho Salmon Fillet from the freezer in advance, with enough time to defrost in the
refrigeration for 24-36 hours. Remove and let it sit at room temperature for an hour. Wipe dry with
a paper towel.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the Coho
Salmon Fillet on top.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the diced peach, tamari sauce, brown rice vinegar, pickled
ginger, garlic, jalapeño, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Pour the tamari peach salsa over the fillet.
5. Bake the fillet for 10-12 minutes, until the flesh begins to flake and the thickest part of the salmon
is pink inside.
6. Remove the fillet from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Fisherman Charlie Wilber with chef Emma Frisch. Photo by EmmaFrisch.com.
Fisherman Charlie Wilber with chef Emma Frisch. Photo by EmmaFrisch.com.

 

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What’s the difference between king salmon and coho salmon?

Cooking king salmon and coho salmon.
Cooking king salmon and coho salmon.

Most people consider king salmon, also known as Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), the finest of the wild Pacific salmon. King salmon is known for its high content of healthy omega-3 oils and its big taste. A decadent item to feature at a white tablecloth, candlelit dinner, king salmon is about as good as it gets.

With less fatty oils than the king salmon, the coho salmon, also known as silver salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch),  has a lighter taste, which can be a virtue depending on what you’re preparing with the salmon. The coho salmon has a lot of other virtues, too. It’s milder tasting than a king salmon, which may appeal to some. Coho salmon also certainly pairs well with sauces. Many people find the coho salmon more versatile in cooking, making it possible to serve in a wider variety of ways. The coho salmon is also more of an any-day kind of dinner.

Both our wild Alaskan king salmon and coho salmon are available for home delivery here.

wild salmon
A whole king salmon and a whole coho salmon with their fillets.

 

 

Wild salmon fillets and portions
King salmon fillets (left) and coho salmon fillets (right) with portions below.

Looking at the nutritional values, we can see that the king salmon is much richer, while the coho salmon’s virtue is its lightness.

Coho salmon: (3-ounce serving) 120 calories; Protein 19 g; Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat 1g; Sodium 50mg; Cholesterol 48 mg; 680 mg Omega-3 Fatty Acids per 100 g serving

King Salmon:  (3-ounce serving) 200 Calories; Protein 21 g; Fat 12g; Saturated Fat 3g; Sodium 55mg; Cholesterol 75mg; 1300 mg Omega-3 Fatty Acids per 100 g serving

Though king salmon tend to be significantly larger than  coho salmon, its runs aren’t nearly as numerous. Because of the high demand for king salmon and the lower amount available, it is priced higher than the coho salmon. Compare pricing by checking out our offerings here for king salmon and coho salmon.

A 10-pound box of king salmon or a 10-pound box of coho salmon measures 15 x 10 x 6″. Our coho portions come in individually vacuum-sealed packages with six ounces net weight of coho salmon, while our king salmon comes in four and eight-ounce packages. We also have 6-portion boxes for both species, in addition to 10-portion boxes for the king salmon and 14 portion boxes for coho.  We have larger quantities of our wild salmon for restaurants and group buyers. We also sell coho salmon and king salmon fillets, which are the entire side of a fish. The size of one coho salmon fillet is roughly 18″ x 6″ x 0.5″ and they typically weigh between 1 and 2 pounds.

Wild salmon
King salmon and coho salmon with knife.
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Wild Salmon, Nature’s Perfect Protein

wild salmon health benefits infographic

Wild Salmon, Nature’s Perfect Protein

With abundant, sustainably managed runs in Alaska, wild salmon not only taste great but are loaded with healthy benefits that are life enhancing. Wild salmon are nature’s way of offering us a way to improve our health and wellbeing.  Delicious and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and D, B-complex vitamins, selenium, zinc, potassium, and iron, wild salmon represents a high-quality lean meat. It is nature’s perfect protein.

We have known for years that the Omega-3 fatty acids that salmon are known for are an essential nutrient and an integral part of every cell membrane in our bodies, creating healthier cells that reduce chronic diseases. Recent studies show that Omega-3s offer benefits for the heart, mind, and joints. A recent study by a Mayo Clinic team completed a study with 732,000 subjects that participants with higher intakes of Omega-3s had an 18 percent average drop in coronary heart disease. There are increasing studies revealing how important the Omega-3s in wild seafood are for heart health. All these studies recommend eating fish 2 times a week. The power of wild seafood and Omega 3s is not about solving a disease but about long-term benefits for our health.

We can even add cancer prevention and skin-protection  to the list of health benefits conferred by omega-3 fatty acids! Omega-3s are called “essential fatty acids” because they are essential for body functions. Our bodies cannot make these types of fats on their own, so that is why nature provides us with fatty fish like salmon. (While wild and farmed salmon have comparable levels of omega-3s, farmed salmon is generally much higher in omega-6 fats typically found in the vegetable oils used in home kitchens and in almost all take-out, prepared, and packaged foods. Most Americans eat way too many Omega-6 fatty acids and don’t get enough Omega-3s for the optimal balance.)

KPFilet&PortionsCool
Alaska Gold king salmon.

Fish, especially salmon, really is brain food. Omega-3s have been associated with improved “mental health” status, including a reduction in depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. It may be surprising to learn that the human brain is mostly composed of fat.  Fats, along with water, are the main components of brain cell membranes and nerves. Omega-3 fatty acids are types of fats that are involved with brain development in infants and with maintaining healthy brain function in adults. We know that populations with the highest fish consumption, such as Japan, Finland and Greenland, have the lowest rates of depression.  It’s possible that Omega-3 intake is a contributor. One study showed that a diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids may cause the brain to age faster and lose some memory and thinking capabilities.  People with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cells had lower brain volumes. These findings and associations add to previous observations regarding the lower risk of brain abnormalities in persons eating fish like salmon three times a week.

There is also emerging research that shows that seafood such as salmon might also play a role in cancer prevention. This is not surprising because omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and we know that cancer starts as inflamed tissue.

The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids also make them an effective alternative and supplement to the non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs typically given to arthritis patients. Most national and international arthritis associations now recommend the use of fatty fish such as salmon for the treatment of arthritic pain.

When we’re stressed, our anxiety hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, spike. “The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have anti-inflammatory properties that may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones,” says Lisa Cimperman, RD, of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In a study at Oregon State University funded by the National Institutes of Health, students who took omega-3 supplements had a 20% reduction in anxiety compared to the group given placebo pills.

One 3-ounce serving of cooked wild salmon can have more than 2,000 milligrams of omega-3s, double the daily intake recommended by the American Heart Association for people with heart disease.

Nutrients less frequently talked about in conjunction with salmon are vitamin D, iron, and zinc.  Seafood is one of the few naturally-rich food sources of vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin involved in calcium metabolism and bone health and responsible for repair and maintenance of the body…a huge task!  Additionally, vitamin D helps to regulate cell growth, decrease inflammation, and maintain healthy immune function.  Some of the richest seafood sources for this vitamin are fatty fish like salmon. Besides sunlight, salmon is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D. Salmon, along with whale and walrus flesh/fat and polar bear livers, most likely provided our sun-deprived northern populations with much needed vitamin D for centuries!

In addition to Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, there is increasing knowledge on the  health benefits of a little known compound that makes salmon red:  astaxanthins (pronounced “asta-ZAN-thins).  This naturally occurring carotenoid is found in algae, shrimp, lobster, and crab, but is by far richest in salmon. This compound is produced by certain kinds of algae. Small crustaceans eat this astaxanthin rich algae and then are eaten by wild Pacific/Alaskan salmon, thereby passing on the nutritious color pigments and thus causing the red-orange hue in the fish. For salmon, scientists believe that astaxanthin may help provide the endurance that spawning salmon need to swim upstream for hundreds of miles, leaping and jumping all along the way. For humans, astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant with broad health implications. Wild salmon are the richest human food source of astaxanthin by far. It is important to note that wild salmon have four times higher astaxanthin content than farmed salmon and contain natural astaxanthin instead of synthetic astaxanthin.  Natural astaxanthin is proving to have much more health benefits than synthetic.

In conclusion, salmon offers the heft of a steak but a lot more health benefits. Wild salmon runs in Alaska are plentiful, sustainably managed for future generations to fish the same way we are fishing now. When you get wild Alaskan salmon, you are supporting an American industry. When you get wild salmon from Alaska Gold Seafood, you are supporting a cooperative of quality-oriented family businesses that has had a relentless commitment to quality since 1944.

 

Author Cindy Brinn, RD
Author Cindy Brinn is a nutrition specialist.

A lot of this information was compiled and originally written by Cindy Brinn MPH, RD, CDE, BC-ADM, our health and nutrition expert. She practiced over ten years as a clinical dietitian specializing in nutrition support at large regional hospitals and small community hospitals.  In 1995 she started her career in behavior change and the application of modern nutrition therapy and diabetes management in an outpatient setting.  A well respected and sought after speaker, Cindy lectures frequently at local and regional conferences on food choices and chronic disease prevention and treatment.  Attendees describe her talks as “dynamic, inspiring and personally very applicable” Cindy’s many certifications include Registered and Certified Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, and Board Certified Advanced Diabetes Management.  She established and manages the ADA recognized Nutrition & Diabetes Education Clinic at St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, WA and continues to make professional presentations throughout the country.

 

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Line-caught salmon, the craft beer of seafood

Lance Preston, who trolls on the F/V Seaboy, a classic wooden troller, is a Seafood Producers Cooperative board member with a passion for premium-quality salmon and our fishermen’s cooperative. Here he is in own words describing why being a member of SPC is so important to him and why you get a quality fish from Seafood Producers Cooperative.

Lancestill
Lance Preston, Seafood Producers Cooperative member. Click here for his story on line-caught salmon from SPC.

 

Seafood Producers Cooperative is owned by the fishermen, so it’s our organization. As fishermen, we are responsible for the quality and we take great pride in what we do. Owned by fishermen, we have the opportunity to stress quality.

We produce the best Alaskan seafood that you can get. Only a small percentage of Alaskan salmon are caught by trollers using hook and line methods. It’s a boutique fishery. As Lance says, “Like your micro-brews, we’re a micr0-fishery.” Line-caught salmon, the craft beer of seafood. Fish come on board One Fish At A Time. We catch the premier species–king salmon and coho salmon. “White table cloth material.” Fish are landed on deck, pressure-bled using a micro-pipette, gutted, and iced within a half-hour. In contrast, a net-caught salmon might spend hours on deck before being handled.

At the end of the day, a co-op fish comes from fishermen who take pride in quality, because they own the organization.

Lance puts it elegantly: “I get to produce a quality product that is sustainably harvested in a well-manged fishery and belong to a cooperative that is taking care of us and we’re all taking care of each other. We’re all part of it. We are owners of the entire organization cooperatively. No one’s being exploited. We’re making a decent living. And I get to go fishing. What guy doesn’t like to go fishing?”

 

Lance-thumbsup
Thumbs up. Lance Preston on being a member/owner of Seafood Producers Cooperative.

 

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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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Alaska is a Big Place

Alaska is a Big Place

Alaska is a Big Place.

Our fish processing plant in Sitka is unique in that it is busy most of the year with a number of different fisheries, but there is a lull in October. During this lull, Dave Newman, our Fresh Production Supervisor, goes moose hunting near Hoonah.

When Dave’s out hunting, if he sees bear signs, he goes somewhere else. Much in the same way, if a fisherman pulls into a bay and there are some boats already there and it’s too crowded, the fisherman can pull into another bay to fish. There are plenty in Southeast Alaska.  Alaska is a big place! It’s just absolutely massive. And sparsely populated. Our  wild Alaska salmon, halibut and sablefish come from really pristine waters that aren’t tainted by run-off from cities or air pollution.

The North Pacific is home to some beautiful fish and Alaska is where that fish is delivered. Alaska is a big place.

Southeast Alaska. Rugged land, beautiful waters.

The jagged bays and rugged mountains around Sitka.
The jagged bays and rugged mountains around Sitka.
The kelp-filled waters and Mount Edgecumbe in the background near Sitka.
The kelp-filled waters and Mount Edgecumbe in the background near Sitka.
Sunset over Sitka, SE Alaska.
Sunset over Sitka, SE Alaska.

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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.