Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Kings Of Spring

It's subtle, but if you really put your ear to the ground, you may actually be able to hear the soft tip-toeing steps of spring quietly making its way back into our lives.  Ice is beginning to crack under the pressure of a growing warmth and trees are slowly regaining their upright posture.  Heck, even P.E.I. mussels may make an appearance as early as this weekend after spending the last two weeks buried under the freezing avalanche that was February.

The anticipation of sunnier days is so exciting that when I was told that there were a few early spring troll-caught Wild King Salmon available to the highest bidder, well I just couldn't help myself, I had to have them.  When I was told that they were Ivory Kings, I was even more excited.  So, in an effort to assist the ushering in of warmer weather and good vibes, and to get my hands on the earliest batch of Ivory King salmon I have ever seen, I am elated to announce that BlackSalt will be seeing our earliest ever batch of Wild Alaskan Ivory King Salmon.
SPC members the Eliasons represent 4 generations of fishing

Most will have to wait for May to get their hands on Wild King Salmon, which is traditionally when the season gets going, but even then ivory salmon will be hard to find and even harder to acquire.  This early in the season the king salmon are at the pinnacle of their flavor profile.  The salmon are meaty from heavy winter feeding and are far from entering the fresh river waterways in which they will later spawn.  This means their proteins are completely intact and their fat content is at its peak.  Later on in the coming months spawning runs will gradually wear the salmon down physically, muting their flavors and decimating their fat content.  In a sense, these few early fish could be some of the best tasting fish we see all season.

In addition to great flavor, these fish - or should I say fishermen - have great stories.  We have the Seafood Producers Cooperative (SPC) to thank for these beautiful, sustainable early king salmon.  The SPC consists of a group of fishermen who work the water one fish at a time using the hook and line method.  This method produces fish that are of the highest quality, mostly due to the extreme care that goes into the harvesting and handling of the fish.  The cooperative is comprised of 550 members, each individually representing a small boat and small operation, but with an aggregate goal of producing the finest product possible.  Supporting these types of fisheries is important because the money goes back to the actual fishermen, instead of supporting the deep pockets of industrial processors.  It's a win for the guest dining on superior seafood and for the communities that produced the fish.          
One fish at a time!

Winter, especially these last few weeks, has sunk its teeth deep into the earth and is reluctant to let go.  I am ready for the melt to begin, but I am not convinced it's time just yet to bury our heavy coats into the back of our closets.  It might be too early to say that spring is here, but it's never too early to eat great fish.  If you want to wait for the rest of the salmon, they will be here in a few months.  I, for one, am ready for better weather and better meals.  

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