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Our journey into the world of seafood will begin with the fish that represents the Pacific Northwest better than any other item, salmon. There are several kinds of salmon but there are three that are the most widely available, King, Sockeye, and Atlantic. The King is named so because it is the largest of the species, some fish reach 120 pounds, and because it tends to be the fullest flavored. Sockeye, a much smaller fish, has a distinctive, bright red sheen and is very near King in its flavor. And finally, Atlantic salmon is mentioned because it is amazingly widespread as a result of it being farm raised, although technically, Atlantic salmon is a big trout. However, it does provide an excellent alternative if neither King nor Sockeye are available.
The best tasting salmon will be the freshest taken from the coldest waters at the start of the spawning season. As salmon ready for their journey up a river they eat voraciously building an incredible reserve of body fat for their long journey. This is the time when they are at their absolute peak of perfection. More notable salmon runs include the Copper River run, the Yukon River run, (both in Alaska), the Fraser River run in Canada, and in the lower states the Columbia River run in Washington, and the Rogue River run in Oregon. If fish from these waters is available at your local market BUY IT! (See Buying Tips.)
Salmon is so versatile, working as well in your oven as it does on your grill that the culinary potential is almost endless. Consider that the best way to have a perfect piece of salmon is to grill it and serve it with a slice of lemon and you begin to realize that with salmon less is more. Pair it with a simple fruit salsa; poach it gently and serve it with fresh herbs simmered in butter; cut it into pieces and sauté it with a bit of olive oil and add it to your favorite pasta. The only limitation is your imagination!
Salmon with Strawberry-Pasilla Salsa
Thyme-encrusted King Salmon with Blackberry Gastrique