Rare salmon breed coming to market courtesy of New Zealand King Salmon

A breakthrough innovation from New Zealand King Salmon will allow for a handful of discerning chefs and diners to comfortably enjoy a seafood rarity: Tyee salmon. 

The New Zealand-based company has developed a limited supply of what it calls Ōra King Tyee, or farmed Tyee salmon, available for purchase. The fish, which were raised in the Te Waikoropupu Springs in Takaka, can grow to weigh more than 13 kilograms and are the latest product to be shaped by New Zealand King Salmon’s nearly 25-year-old sustainable breeding program. 

“There are unique characteristics within our breed, that when combined with the ideal farming environment at Takaka, enable these salmon to grow to over 13 kilograms,” said Jemma McCowan, New Zealand King Salmon’s general marketing manager, in a press release. 

Ōra King Tyee is “an extremely premium, world-first product,” McCowan said, and is best suited for sushi dishes and sushi preparation. However, it’s not a product that can feature on every sushi plate – New Zealand King Salmon will be producing just 40 fish per month, the company explained. 

“Ōra King Tyee now makes it even more possible to have a luxury, yet sustainable sushi experience and we’re thrilled to be able to offer this to diners,” McCowan added.

Ōra King Tyee grow to be around four years of age before they are put up for sale, whereas the usual Ōra king salmon lifecycle of two years. An extended lifecycle promotes “a more developed flavor and oil profile,” according to McCowan. 

“The flesh is refined with dramatic white marbling and the natural oil content in the belly is notably high, drawing comparisons to bluefin tuna,” she said. 

An exclusive group of chefs who have experienced the company’s Ōra King Tyee have remarked on the product’s delicate flavor and clean, herbaceous palate.

“The size of the fillets and steaks are unlike anything I’ve seen and the textured layering of the flesh is simply beautiful. This fish opens up a whole new playing field to chefs,” Auckland-based chef Geoff Scott said.

Nathan Gould, Chef De Cuisine at James Beard Award-winning restaurant O YA in Boston, Massachusetts, agreed.

“Working with the Ōra King Tyee was incredible," Gould said. "The pure size of the fish made such a statement in our kitchen. Already known for high marbling, the Ōra King Tyee surpassed all expectations. Deeply marbled yet firm, this fish ate like no other."

Beginning in April 2018, a limited number of Ōra King Tyee will be offered to exclusive restaurants and special events around the world. Interested parties can register themselves for consideration for the product at www.orakingsalmon.co.nz/tyee.

Native to Canada, Tyee are a kind of king salmon noted for their extraordinary size.

New Zealand King Salmon will be exhibiting at this year's Seafood Expo North America event, held in Boston, Massachusetts from 11 to 13 March, at booth #2923. The Ōra King Tyee product will be showcased for tasting at SENA on Sunday, 11 March, with chef Gould preparing the fish.

The company recently reported an 81 percent increase in net after-tax profit for the first half of the fiscal year, but is bracing itself for an unfavorable second period, according to its latest industry update.


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