Ōra King salmon likened in luxury to Wagyu beef in recent Bloomberg report

Published on
September 18, 2019

Nelson, New Zealand-based company New Zealand King Salmon Co. recently had its brand of net-pen raised king salmon, Ōra King, likened to a luxury item celebrated by chefs the world over – Wagyu beef.

A profile published by media outlet Bloomberg on 13 September declared Ōra King as the “Wagyu beef of the seafood world,” noting the fish’s “strikingly marbled meat” as well as its “sumptuous melt-in-your-mouth texture.” 

Ōra King salmon, which is produced from stock first imported from California in the 1900s and is available in specialty food stores for USD 30 (EUR 27) per pound, is often regarded for its elevated repute, Bloomberg said. Tim Hollingsworth, a chef at the Los Angeles, California-based restaurant Otium, told the news site he calls the product “prestigious” due to its high fat content, explaining that he prefers to use Ōra King belly for sashimi and raw bar specials, and cuts from the loin for roasted or grilled entrees. 

Miso mustard often accompanies smoked Ōra King salmon at Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s New York-based restaurant, he revealed to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, at chef Thomas Keller’s TAK Room at Hudson Yards, the fish is shaped into a tournedo and grilled for USD 42 (EUR 38). Jarrod Huth, TAK Room’s chef de cuisine, said he was drawn to the product because it’s available all year, unlike wild salmon, which hits the marketplace for less than six months at a time.

“Food raised in the wild is more exciting, and the flavor and texture of wild salmon are unmatched by anything produced in a controlled setting, although the Ōra King comes incredibly close,” Huth said to Bloomberg. 

“When you temper wagyu, the fat starts to melt; same with bluefin tuna belly. Now I’ve found it with Ōra King, and it’s exciting,” Huth added.

Each week, TAK Room serves 300 orders of Ōra King tournedos, Huth said, making the dish one of the restaurant’s most popular. To accommodate that order volume, Huth butchers 10 fish, he confirmed to Bloomberg. 

Ōra King is just one of the four premium salmon brands sold by New Zealand King Salmon. Southern Ocean, Omega Plus, and the New Zealand King Salmon label are also included in the company’s portfolio. Grown in sea farm pens in Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand, Ōra King salmon are considered “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program – the first farmed salmon to ever achieve such a ranking. 

Ōra King producer New Zealand King Salmon recently started eyeing expansion opportunities for its aquaculture operations into the open ocean, submitting an application to the Marlborough District Council for a 35-year resource consent to build open-ocean king salmon farms north of Marlborough in the Cook Strait back in August 2019. 

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for our company, our region, and the aquaculture industry,” CEO Grant Rosewarne said at the time. “We’ve named our first open ocean farming project Blue Endeavour to signify the future-focused strategy we’re putting in place to harness the ocean’s potential in a sustainable way. The pens on these farms will be so spacious that we’re calling them sea ranges.”

If the company’s application is approved, it hopes to open the farm by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, with the first harvest scheduled for 12 to 18 months later, SeafoodSource reported last month.

Photo courtesy of New Zealand King Salmon

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