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Apr 6, 2011 04:57 PM

What is the best Salmon and where to eat it?

My head and my heart tell me I'm coming to visit Canada again because of the majestic scenery, and the hospitality and friendliness of the people - but my stomach tells me it's really to eat more salmon! Last visit I was amazed by the bewildering choice of varieties - here we only get one - farmed, full of antibiotics, artificially colored, and lacking in taste.
So, I'll open a can of worms (or should that be a can of salmon ;-)) and ask the locals - what's be best eating salmon? - I prefer mine raw, but if cooked I like it just seared and served very simply.
So, my question to the foodies of BC is: where is the best place to eat fresh, wild salmon in Victoria or Vancouver?

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  1. The best piece of salmon I've ever had was cooked at Refuel. In July, they get their salmon from Fred and Linda Hawkshaw up in Terrace. The Hawkshaws fish with impeccable standards. I had sockeye if I'm not mistaken, though all five species of commercial Pacific salmon are found in the rivers up there. Check this blog post out:

    Not sure when you're coming up to Vancouver, but if you're in town when this salmon is around, you will not be disappointed at all.

    1 Reply
    1. re: peter.v

      Thanks for the advice. I looked at the web site and it makes my mouth water! Can't wait. The sights and sounds of travel are great, but it's the tastes that linger!

    2. When are you coming? Obviously fresh, wild and in season are what you want but that isn't right now.
      There isn't one variety that is better than another IMHO. Spring , Coho, Sockeye and even Pink when prepared properly are all excellent.
      You will normally find Spring or Sockeye on the menus here when they are in season and that is often dependent on the fishing openings allowed by the government due to low stocks in the last while. If I had to choose one I would go for Spring as it is richer and much less dry than Sockeye.

      As for places to try in Vancouver: C Restaurant is famous for top quality sustainable fish and seafood and many of our better sushi bars will have nice salmon sushi and sashimi.

      6 Replies
      1. re: eatrustic

        We will be there towards the end of June. If we want to do DIY sushi, where would we find a good fishmonger (is that what you call them in Canada?) who sells fresh salmon?

        1. re: evamelb

          The two places in the city with the highest standards for Salmon are Longliner Seafoods in Granville Island Public Market

          And Finest at Sea on Arbutus St

          Finding *Fresh* Salmon is very dependent on a number of circumstances though and there may be none when you're here-only Frozen at Sea which is often better quality.

          1. re: Sam Salmon

            Thank you for this. It looks as though these are places I can buy fresh salmon - not restaurants? I prefer to prepare my own - i.e. sliced thinly and eaten raw.

            1. re: evamelb

              Frozen salmon, if bought from the right source (i.e. Finest at Sea), is nearly as good as the fresh stuff. It is flash frozen at sea so there has been no decay, really.

              Sockeye is my favourite. Dry? Only if overcooked. It has the most distinctive flavour IMO.

              1. re: evamelb

                sorry to sound clinical but remember that salmon, including line caught, fresh, wild, etc are susceptible to parasites, including worms. The "fresh" fish you see in sushi restos in Vancouver and elsewhere has been flash frozen at sea to kill these.

                1. re: J and V

                  Eek, this brings back memories of dissecting salmon in first year biology which cured me of both a science major and sushi eating (since recovered from the latter).

                  Just to throw in the mix, for cooked eating I prefer both coho and spring/chinook to sockeye. Alas, evenm now you'll be forced to experiment... Btw, there's also a Finest at Sea on Granville Island next to the Lobster Man. I think that's the location where they take in the fresh fish and also where they smoke it.

        2. We've eaten on both Island and Mainland. Your best bet is to go to the docks and get it from the fisherman, the whole thing. Not sure about Vancouver, the Granville Island docks and Steveston docks are sometimes a bit of a "scam",the public doesn't get the best stuff. I had no problem out on the Island.
          Then, you go cook it yourself. Freshly caught salmon is hard to mess up (don't overcook) and you don't have to do anything to it really.

          If you are eating it raw, go to the shops or the docks and get the flash frozen ones, unless you like risking parasites.

          6 Replies
          1. re: EatsFats

            Parasites?????? Sorry, you lost me there....what parasites?

              1. re: evamelb

                Salmon are susceptible to parasites due to the fact that they spend part of their lives in or around fresh water. As mentioned above that is why all salmon (and I believe most fresh water fish) used for sashimi or sushi is frozen briefly to kill any hitchhikers.

                1. re: eatrustic

                  At a good sushi place, "briefly" is the operative word: I think 24 hours of freezing time will kill any klingons. This isn't enough to degrade the flesh.

                  As Sam points out, the quality of frozen fish is affected greatly by packaging and freezing speed. Holding temperature is another factor. Length of time in the deep-freeze also matters. Suffice it to say that properly handled and briefly frozen fish is often virtually indistinguishable from "fresh."

                  SInce the OP is arriving at the end of June, there will likely be fresh stocks—I've usually been able to find fresh salmon at that time anyway. I agree with eatrustic: spring/chinook is killer, but sockeye and coho are delicious too.

                  1. re: BobtheBigPig

                    24 hrs. is not long enough to kill parasites. Time and temperature of freezing DO matter - you need at least 7 days at less than 21 deg. C for most parasites. Not 100% sure what kinds of parasites are present in salmon and what specific time/temp. is needed to kill them but Sockeye do have them.

                    Any time you go through a freeze/thaw cycle with fish you will have degradation of quality/texture - there is no way around this one. The quality change may be hard to detect for an avearge person but it's there.

                    1. re: Pollo

                      true you need to 'deep' freeze for a longer period to actually ensure you kill the 'parasites'. and there is definitely a detectable difference between fresh and frozen fish.
                      some fishing vessels are able to freeze at sea. you can tell how soon it was frozen by the concave of the 'belly'. some believe to be better if you freeze sooner rather than later.
                      scary, but i've seen japanese ayce places slice up regular salmon from the store and serve it as their sashimi.
                      i agree. imho, sockeye is overrated. but really depends how you cook it and how you like it.
                      the truth is most reputable restaurants will get the first picking of the best and freshest salmon. the rest is passed on to consumer for a little more.

            1. "Obviously fresh, wild and in season are what you want but that isn't right now."

              OK, so when is it?

              2 Replies
              1. re: paulista1950

                That depends on commercial openings-if runs are strong enough then openings mean commercial fishermen can catch fish until the quota is met-this applies to troll, seine and gillnet boats.

                Then there's a short window when Fresh fish is available-if you're in the right place @ the right time you'll be able to buy some.

                To further complicate things run strength is determined in small test fisheries-vessels are chartered for this purpose and can legally sell what's caught to defray expenses.

                So that's another source of Fresh fish that comes and goes quickly.

                This applies to all five commercial species all of which return to different places @ different times.

                Maybe now you can see now why it's easier to catch/bleed/gut/freeze fish ASAP thus producing a quality uniform product instead of trying to flog something that's been sitting on ice for a week.

                1. re: Sam Salmon

                  Wow! Tks for the reply, I'd have never imagined it was so complicate.