King Salmon season from May to June on the Central Coast sends waves of excitement through our culinary community because no other fish compares to wild King Salmon. From the time the salmon smolts enter saltwater and for the next one to seven years of their active lives, they’re eating an opulent mix of oil rich algae, krill and smaller fish. This diet is one of the biggest reasons a farmed salmon cannot begin to match the texture, richness and complex flavor of a wild King Salmon.
The business of farming fish of any variety is profit oriented, and great care is taken to give the fish a diet that will enable them to grow big, strong and healthy, just like their free-swimming cousins. But an unnatural diet that includes plant-based proteins such as soy cannot compare to what a wild salmon consumes every day. You can taste the difference in every bite.
The wild salmon sold at the markets are caught before they begin their last trek back to the place they were originally spawned. This arduous journey changes the fish as it swims through harbors to freshwater streams, bouncing off rocks and dodging predators. They just get beat up.
An ocean-caught salmon has had this last part of his life interrupted. Fishermen catch it just before it swims upstream, right at its peak of flavor, much the same way a grape or apple is picked at just the right time. Once caught, they’re immediately placed in an icy slush to maintain their freshness and remain on ice as the boats return to the harbor and the waiting arms of fishmongers and private buyers.
The King Salmon we have at our markets are a food treasure and offer the cook a wide array of options in which it can be prepared. Although leaner than farm raised salmon, wild King has an orangey-red flesh that is deliciously succulent with a meaty texture that flakes off in big thick chunks on your fork. It is very high in omega-3s too, so it’s as good for you as it is delectable, not to mention sustainable.
King Salmon is as versatile as a three-handed piano player. Poached, broiled, grilled or even raw, there are many roads to epicurean bliss with the King.
RECIPES: Basic Fish Cooking Methods, How to Make Gravlax (Cured Salmon), Salmon with Mustard Herb Crust, Seared Salmon with Orange Glaze, Pan Roasted Salmon with Fava Bean Sauce, Honey-Citrus Lacquered Wild Salmon, Pasta with Smoked Salmon Aurora Cream Sauce, Salmon with Roasted Fennel and Red Onion, H & H Fish Packets, Crunchy Walnut Crusted Salmon Fillets, Hans’ Maple Soy Wild Salmon, Salmon Burgers, “Raw” Salmon Sushi Bar Style, Wine Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce
READ MORE ABOUT SUSTAINABLE FISHING: Here Comes the King! (Salmon That Is…)