Copper River fishery opens for business

Fishmonger Abby Copeland holds up a Copper River king salmon at City Fish Co. in Pike’s Place Market. Photo by Kinsey Justa/for The Cordova Times

On the eve of Alaska’s famed Copper River opener seafood chefs from Seattle to Anchorage were ready with gourmet recipes to celebrate the arrival of the first sockeye and king salmon.

With the price yet unknown, the online Anchorage marketer FishEx was posting $46.95 a pound for fresh Copper River sockeye salmon fillet premium portions, about $12 a pound higher than that of Seattle’s famed Pike Place Fish Market.

And while most restaurants were still waiting to confirm the price and likely date of arrival of those first sockeyes and kings, the upscale downtown Anchorage restaurant Orso had already added a gourmet wild Alaska sockeye salmon pan seared entrée to its menu for $29.95.

Copper River Seafoods, an annual participant in the chefs Copper River salmon cook-off on the tarmac of Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport, along with Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Trident Seafoods, was also bracing for a new family friendly taste of salmon event at 49th State Brewing Co. in downtown Anchorage on Saturday, May 19.

Tickets were just $15, but early purchase was encouraged because of limited space. Along with award-winning dishes by five well-known Alaska chefs, the event will feature live music, door prizes and the introduction of the brewery’s new beer, “Fish On!”

Chef Laura Cole of 229 Parks Restaurant & Tavern, a semifinalist for Best Chef Northwest by the James Beard Foundation, is one of the five chefs for the Anchorage event. An outspoken advocate for fishermen, farmers, producers and processors, Cole’s kick-off party offering will be Copper River salmon and spot prawn sea lettuce dashi with pickled plums, tomatoes, green onion, cilantro, sesame, crispy salmon skin and azuki beans.

Also on the menu are a pecan and maple crusted wild Alaska salmon with mushroom potato hash, a crème brulee salmon, sockeye belly hand roll, and a salmon mi-cuit, a decadent textured sous-vide sockeye dish with whipped mascarpone, salted baguette and aromatics.