The Queen of King Salmon

Meet Trish.  We did.  She is a remarkable woman who traded in her life in Illinois when Alaska called her name.   She jumped aboard an offshore, power-troller fishing vessel in Sitka, and for five years learned a new trade.   She brings a conscience to the table; the dream of anyone who wants to source sustainable, superior seafood.

Today Trish has a processing plant in an old cannery in the north end of Ketchikan.  We visited.   She teaches and cajoles her fishermen and women to catch, kill and pack line-caught fish to meet her exacting specifications, and she pays handsomely for compliance with these rigorous standards.  She taught us too.  No nets.  No bruising.  Fish bellies packed with ice.

She and Alika, a whizz at removing pin bones, were elbow deep in fresh King Salmon (also known as Chinook) which comes in two colors; red and white.   Same species:  Onchorhynchus tshawytscha.  

We’re curious.  This obviously called for a taste test and Trish generously provided the raw material.   We cooked.

Red & White King Salmon with Kimchi Fried Rice and Shallot Lemon Sauce

Lightly season the salmon and allow to rest.

Roughly chop a generous ladle of kimchi and add it to a warm buttered skillet along with a shimmer of sesame oil.  Break in day-old, cooked sushi rice by hand.   Add a splash of juice from the kimchi jar and toss gently to combine.   Cook over medium heat without stirring until crispy on the underside.  Transfer to a warm oven.

Sauté the salmon in the hot skillet over high heat, skin side down until the skin is crisp and golden brown.  Turn and cook until upper side is seared.  Set atop the rice in the warm oven until the interior flesh reaches your version of perfect.

Lightly sauté a handful of finely chopped shallots in the skillet.  Deglaze the pan with a generous slosh of crisp white wine and the juice of a lemon, and reduce until syrupy.  Swirl in cubes of chilled butter until your conscience gets the better of you.  Spoon the sauce over the fish.  Done.

Red and White King Salmon with Kimchi Fried Rice and Braised Bok Choy

The flavors are surprisingly distinct.  The red is classic intense salmon – oily, rich, earthy, delicious.  The white is more toothsome, has an almost squeaky chew yet melts on the tongue, milder, nuttier.   We each had a favorite.

Meet Trish here!

On the loading dock at Ward Cove Cannery where Trish’s catch is brought in for processing

6 comments

  1. Connie Bentley says:

    It’s a bit odd to be home after our stunning trip up to Juneau. Can’t wait to get back for the Southbound journey. I loved learning about Trish and, since we are not fishing this year, I’ll reach out to her to replenish our fish freezer.
    You look very spiffy in your Xtra Tuff boots.
    Stay in touch!

  2. Diane Pawlowicz says:

    Love those boots! Anyone who can rock those boots and cook up a beautiful fish dinner like that is a special person.

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