Copper River salmon frenzy is here

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
May 12, 2010

Let the frenzy begin.

The first batch of Alaska’s prized Copper River salmon is due to arrive on restaurant menus and in retail seafood cases in the Lower 48 by Friday morning, just hours after the fishery opens at 7 a.m. on Thursday.

Though its arrival isn’t as hyped as it was years ago when Queen Anne Thriftway and Larry’s Markets raced to get the first fish from the fishing grounds near Cordova, Alaska, to market in Seattle, Copper River salmon is already being heavily promoted at restaurants and retail outlets nationwide.

Anthony’s Restaurants announced that its diners will be among the first in the Pacific Northwest to devour Copper River sockeye and king salmon at select waterfront locations by Friday and at all locations by Sunday.

The 24-restaurant chain has four Copper River salmon entrées planned for its menu: Char Grilled Fresh Copper River Chinook Salmon Medallions, Alder Planked Fresh Copper River Chinook Salmon, Alder Planked Fresh Copper River Sockeye Salmon and Northwest Duet, which includes char-grilled salmon and halibut.

Anthony’s customers can also track the arrival of the first shipment of Copper River salmon on the company’s Web site, www.anthonys.com.

On the East Coast, Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York will menu Copper River salmon beginning Monday, and the fish will stay on the menu for the rest of the month, said Executive Chef Sandy Ingber. However, because availability of kings is expected to be tight due to a smaller-than-average run, the restaurant is pricing the fish at USD 43.95 per entrée for lunch and dinner, higher than in previous years.

Chef JJ’s Back Yard in Indianapolis is now taking reservations for its Copper River Salmon Grill & Swill, hosted on 27 May. JJ Boston, the restaurant’s chef-owner, will prepare the fish a number of ways and is also offering a “flight” of salmon so customers can compare preparations. Tickets to the event are $45 per person.

“This is some of the best, most delicate fish in the world, and I want to bring a little piece of my past to Indy,” said Boston, a Spokane, Wash., native.

Just like last year, Alaska Airlines is promoting its delivery of the first batch of fish to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in conjunction with the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association. This year, the carrier is taking the promotion a step further by hosting a celebrity chef cook-off at the airport and auctioning off prizes, including a trip to experience the fishery firsthand.

Alaskan Brewing Co. is also involved in a cross-promotional campaign with the association — a coupon for USD 5 off seafood redeemable at participating retailers will be attached to each case of Alaskan Brewing Co. beer sold in the Pacific Northwest.

The Copper River salmon fishery, which marks the unofficial start of Alaska’s summer salmon season, is set to kick off at 7 a.m. on Thursday for 12 hours. The next 12-hour opener usually begins at 7 a.m. the following Monday.

Last year’s May 14 opener yielded 20,216 sockeye and 1,549 chinook. Thursday’s weather forecast for Cordova, Alaska, calls for rain showers, with temperatures in the upper 40s and southeast winds at 10 to 15 mph.

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