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May 26, 2008 08:51 AM

Copper River Salmon

Where are the best places for Copper River Salmon in the D.C./Northern Virginia area?


And what is the general season for them?


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  1. If you're looking to buy it on the hoof, Whole Foods always has it when it's in season, which is getting to be right about now. I'd look at Monterey Bay Fish Grotto. Their current web page says "From Copper River Salmon to Bluefin Tuna, we offer some of the most delicate and hard-to-get seasonal fish anywhere." But call first if you want to find out for sure when they have it.

    1. Balducci's and Magruder's have carried it in the past. I've never gotten it at Magruder's, but they claim to have the best price on it:

      1. thanks everyone...but was hoping to eat it at a restaurant?

        any recs for places that prepare/cook it?

        2 Replies
          1. re: justaddwater

            I believe the season is over. It only lasts for three weeks, and my fishmonger had it last month. If it's on anyone's menu right now, it's probably frozen. You should keep your eyes peeled in late May and early June.

            By the way, it was running $70 a pound this year. Apparently the catch was down, and transportation costs for it soared. It has to be shipped same-day delivery, because it's such a fragile fish.

        1. Copper River is the shortest of the major river runs in Alaska, it just is the first. The copper kings only have about 10-13% fat content. The copper river is 200 miles and the fish only eat enough to make it up the run. The Yukon is an 800 mile river and the salmon running that river will ahve about 14% when caught out to sea, and the fat content raises as the fish move into the sounds and gets highest when the fish start upriver. We are talking fat% up to maybe 30% or more. This year, there will be not a lot of river salmon and more oean. You can tell an ocean Chinook because of its greenish top and silver bottom coloring. The river fish are brightly colored.

          The season for yukin fish is about 8 more weeks. Then there shouldbe a fall run as well.

          6 Replies
          1. re: deangold

            Thanks Dean,
            Where do you suggest shopping for fresh Chinook or Yukon Salmon in the northeast suburbs of DC?

            1. re: mdfoodlover

              Chinook is the species of salmon {I think, I run a restaurant, I am not a biologist :-)} whereas the Yukon is its home. SO you are looking for Yukon Chinook or Yukon King. Given the concerns for catch size, I would also be looking for salmon from the mouths of the river: Prince William Sound is one name to look for.

              Whole Foods has had Yukons before. I bet Black Salt will have it. It will probably run $20+ at retail. I pay $10 or more wholesale for the fish headed and gutted and air-freighterd in over night from Alaska. That comes out to about a cost of $15 or more per pound for fillet.

              If it came in by truck (the most common kind around) then it would go for a lot less but be a week or more older. There is also a ton of frozed and thawed Alaskan salmon in the market. Be picky and ask your fish monger what's what.

              1. re: deangold

                Just to make things more complicated there are 5 types of Alaska salmon each with at least 2 common names. The 3 most popular are king (chinnock), red (sockeye) and silver (coho). All make excellent eating. I prefer king but many prefer red. They say the river system they are native to effects the taste with the Yukon and Copper preferred. I have not compared. You can get good deals shipped directly to your house especially if you can buy in bulk. It is worth getting together with friends to work up an order over 20 pounds. Google Alaska salmon sales to find some companies.

                1. re: jfish

                  Frankly, by the time the fish gets here the differences between Yukon and Copper River aren't that big. More important is to decide on the species of salmon you want and find a good handler. Some absolutely great salmon comes from the Bristol Bay region, which isn't that close to either.

                  And avoid farmed Atlantic salmon -- a literal pale imitation -- at all costs.

                  A lot of the preferences king vs. red vs. silver (or, in parallel, chinook vs. sockeye vs. coho) is built outside of Alaska by folks who have tasted inconsistently handled fish.

                  My preferences: 1) red -- finer meat, deeper color, more consistent flavor throughout the fillet, better on grill, 2) king, more versatile prep options 3) coho, very good, solid all around fish, 4) chum (or dog), high oil, needs to be fresh, 5) pink, has to be very fresh. They deteriorate as soon as they leave the sea.

                  Chum is also sold as "silverbrite."

                  1. re: repete

                    On the difference between Yukon and Copper, I would respectuflly have to disagree. Yukon Sockeye has fat content similar to Copper King. That is a noticible difference. I get fish air frieghted overnight the day it is landed thru a local distributor, the same distributor many of DC's best restaurants and some selct retailers use. With this sourcing, you can taste the difference. If you get salmon thru the more common distributors who truck their fish in from Alaska, the fish can easliy be a week old by the time it is ready to be sold to the end user here in DC.

                    By the way, Chum is also known as Keta (KEE-ta). I like both King and Sockeye, but the King is very rich and as a result I like to have it less often than the sockeye.

            2. re: deangold

              The Copper is more like 350 miles and the reason it has the best salmon is because of the superior care given to those fish as far as handling by the fisherman, and moving to market quikly which is quite impossible with Yukpn fish , Though I will say the Yukon has great kings , I myself prefer the Copper kings. Isnt it true that Kings on the Yukon are not bled or even put on ice and that they are not a sustainable run