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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Catch of the Summer

As he gutted his fresh catch and sliced into the fish, he heard the familiar question from Majid, his fishing buddy, resonate once more.  “Is it red or white?”  This time – for the first time - he was staring at 35 pounds of white flesh. 

“You’ll get a very good price for that salmon at a local restaurant”, remarked the fishing guide.  Selling his catch hadn’t even entered David’s mind.

And so along with our whale watching excursion, the LSI retreat of 2014 will be remembered as the summer that David reeled in a 35 pound rare white King (Chinook) salmon. 

Appropriately,  known as “Ivory Whites”, these salmon differ from the red King Salmon.  Among the species of salmon caught in our Pacific Northwest waters, only the King salmon has the white variety.  This small percentage explains their $12 to $20 per pound price tag.  Known for their red or pink flesh, salmon get this colouring from the carotene found in the shrimp and krill that they eat.  Ivory Kings have an extra enzyme that processes the carotene instead of storing it.  This unique pale salmon was typically headed for the canning heap, but in recent times this fish (when chefs can get it) is now found on the menus of prestigious restaurants from Seattle to New York.  With its milder tasting, melt-in-your-mouth, silky, buttery  texture, it has been described as a cross between Chilean Sea Bass and Sea Perch. 

According  to a New York Times article, Alaskan Feast, a purveyor in NY City, was one of the first companies to offer the fish.   ''When we brought it in three years ago,'' said Dan Kim, a salesman, ''it was really hard to convince people to try it. Then they tasted it.' Now, it is difficult to bring in enough.”

Culinary advice on how to cook this rare delicacy abound.  Some chefs roast it slowly in an oven while others like to poach it gently.  For the LSI staff and their families, a simple smattering of seasonings and onto the grill or into a steamer was the simplest and most delicious way to go. 

Thank you David!  We dined like “Kings” this past weekend.   

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