Seeing a lot of Copper River Sockeye here in Cali. Gimmick?
Is this the real thing or at least a good deal at $9.99/lb? I thought Copper River salmon was always king/Chinook, and when I used to get it up in WA state, it was much closer to $20/lb.
Now Costco & Safeway have this CR wild *sockeye* salmon for 10 bucks. and these particular stores are ones that previously only rarely offered wild Alaskan/Pacific salmon, much less the heralded CR variety. FWIW, the filets they had at Safeway look very deep in color, much like the 'true' CR Chinook I had seen in the past.
So, is Copper River, AK, enjoying an enormous bumper crop this year, or is the moniker now just being thrown about liberally?
One of the commercial fishing magazines I subscribe to has run articles on Copper River Salmon several times including the current issue.
The article mentioned Pike's selling whole CR Kings for 29.99/lb. this season (May 07). King season is much shorter than Sockeye and the harvest is much lower for King compared to Sockeye.
In the past, CR Sockeye were not harvested to the extent they are this season. Alaska harvests tons of salmon, but since most of it is net caught, and packed in holds they don't look good. Recently, Alaskan fishermen (esp Copper River area) are handling their salmon much more gently and instead of ending up in a can, the fish are being exported as both whole and filets.
It is not a bumper crop, but rather a under utilized resource being utilized.
Is it a gimmick, yes, it is a marketing creation.
You mentioned Safeway, I used to find it amusing when Safeway would sell "Alaskan Silver Brites". Those were Dog Salmon aka Chum Salmon, named because of their Alaskan usage: dog food.
Copper River sockeye salmon is delicious! It has been marketed for many years, but it seems it was appreciated only by a small portion of the population. Copper River king salmon is also delicious, but they are much bigger than the sockeye. You can't go wrong with either one.
I went down to Pike Place Market this week and saw CR Sockeye for $12.99 a pound and if I remember right, the price went down last August to $9.99 at Costco. It seems as though after the first week of the "CR" madhouse, prices just keep going down!
I don't believe the name Copper River can be used unless it comes from the Copper River. So, unless you're dealing with something like "Salmon from Copper River Fish" where "Copper River Fish" is the name of the outfit selling it and not where the fish came from, then you're getting actual Copper River salmon.
Copper River Sockeye is my favorite Salmon and has been for years since I lived in Seattle.