To limit the catch to only targeted species (and to avoid the non-targeted bycatch of vulnerable stocks), we troll wild salmon by hook-and-line (with species-specific lures) and harvest in terminal net fisheries (directing the catch in areas where only the targeted species is present). The five species of wild Pacific salmon – chinook, coho, sockeye, keta and pink – vary in size, colour, texture, and fat content but all share a superb taste, high protein content, and low saturated fat and high polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid content from their diet of the rich ocean nutrients of the North Pacific.
When fishing for salmon, each fish is individually caught and bled, dressed, washed and then held in a mixture of cold sea water and ice. The fish are then re-washed and frozen or belly iced with sub-zero temperature flake ice sealing in the quality and freshness. The end result of this process is a product with all the consistencies of a fish just caught
The largest of the salmon, chinook, are harvested in the Haida Gwaii ("islands on the edge of the world"), a remote archipelago located on the northwest coast of British Columbia between Vancouver Island and the State of Alaska. This fishery occurs from June through August as the chinook salmon complete the final leg of a 1,200 mile migration and four to seven year life cycle. The chinook's diet, which consists mainly of fish and invertebrates like squid, shrimp, crab larvae and other crustaceans, provides for a high fat content and a well-defined, rich-flavoured flesh ranging in colour from ivory to marbled to red.
The end of the chinook season signals the beginning of the harvest of northern coho, the largest of the coho family. Unlike the other salmon species which undertake a distant migration to the mid-Pacific, the northern coho, during its three-year life cycle, stays much closer to shore. Coho feed on herring, pilchards, squid, and crustaceans that provide for a firm, fine-textured and full-flavoured vibrant red-orange flesh that chefs covet for grilling and broiling.
In mid to late summer, sockeye salmon which range the furthest of all salmon are harvested as they migrate to the Skeena, Nass and Fraser Rivers, among the largest salmon-producing rivers in the world. An integral part of First Nations' traditions – the name is derived from the word for chief, "Sau-kai" – the sockeye's diet of shrimp and other crustaceans results in the most intensely red and highest oil content flesh of the five Pacific salmon species.
In the fall, keta salmon are harvested while migrating through Johnstone Strait, a deep and narrow glacier-carved passage located between the east coast of Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. Feeding on comb jellies, the finest keta is ocean caught when it is still "silver-bright" in colour and with a reddish-pink flesh that will turn white as the fish approaches and enters the river system. With a lower fat content, firm flesh and a distinctive flavor, keta appeals to those seeking a milder salmon taste.
Every second year marks the return of the Fraser River pink salmon, the smallest and most abundant of the salmon species. Harvested by both troll and net, the pink salmon feed on crustaceans, plankton and small fish which provides for a light rose pink flesh and a mild delicate flavor.
Alton Brown, Host of The Food Network's Iron Chef America on wild Pacific salmon:
How to Buy Buy good fish and cook it as simply as you can. Oily fish like wild salmon and sablefish are good beginner fish because they're quite forgiving of overcooking...as long as you don't incinerate them. I would also argue that sustainable seafood actually tastes better. And I'd argue that it's better for you nutritionally. Sustainability tastes good...real good. It tastes great in fact.
Hot Smoked Ocean Wise™ Sockeye Salmon with Charred Orange and Maple Syrup from Chef Quang Dang - West Restaurant:
If you have a commercial smoker such as a Bradley, the wood “pucks” or “biscuits” are specifically made for it. If you don’t though, you can buy wood chips and use a charcoal barbecue. Experiment with wood flavours—a combination of apple and alder is popular. Serves 6.
Special Equipment: Hardwood chips or pucks (alder, apple or cherry)
2 oranges, 2 cups (500 mL) brown sugar, 1 cup (250 mL) kosher salt, 1 Tbsp (15 mL) black pepper, 1 tsp (5 mL) ground juniper berries, 1 tsp (5 mL) ground coriander seed, 2 Ocean Wise sockeye salmon fillets, about ½ lb (230 g) each, 1 cup (250 mL) maple syrup
With a fine grater, zest the oranges and set aside—they will be grilled later. Make the salmon cure by combining the salt, sugar, spices and orange zest, and mix well. Completely crust all sides of the Ocean Wise salmon in the cure. Lay the fillets skin-side down on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Let sit in the fridge for 1 1/2 hours.
How to Prepare
Rinse off the cure under cold water and pat fillets dry with paper towel. At this point, you will need to set up your smoker. Place the Ocean Wise salmon into the smoker. Make sure that your smoker is hot, the internal temperature should be around 120–140°F (50–60°C) with full smoke. Brush the fillets with maple syrup and place into the smoker. Brush the Ocean Wise salmon with maple syrup every 5 minutes or so. They will need to smoke for 45 minutes, until the salmon flakes when touched with a fork.
Slice the oranges in half, place cut-side up under a broiler, and let roast until they are charred.
To Serve: Squeeze the juice from the broiled oranges onto the salmon just before serving.
Ivory Salmon with Chanterelle Mushrooms from Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill:
2 fillets of ivory (white spring) salmon with skin (3 oz/85 g each), Salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (more for drizzling), 1 tsp butter, 3 tbsp chanterelle mushrooms, 4 – 5 g green onions (sliced), 6 sun gold tomatoes (cut in half), 20 ml white wine, 60 ml vegetable stock, 1 tbsp piri piri sauce
How to Prepare
Preheat oven to 500 F. Season fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a large non-stick (oven-safe) skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, swirl to coat the pan and warm for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and place salmon pieces skin side down. Do not flip the salmon. Place the pan with the salmon in the top part of the oven for 6 to 8 minutes. After 6 to 8 minutes, turn the oven to high broil and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oven and place the salmon on a plate. In the same pan, place butter, mushrooms, tomatoes and green onions. Season lightly with salt. Place the pan on the stovetop and cook over medium-high heat until the mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat. Deglaze with white wine, vegetable stock and piri piri. Spoon the mushroom mixture and sauce over the salmon. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the fish and serve with fresh seasonal green vegetables.