Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Costco Wholesale celebrates wild salmon from Alaska's Copper River

Fresh wild sockeye salmon from the Copper River in Alaska with diced organic tomatoes, red wine, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, fresh oregano and fresh mint. The side dish, top, is organic baby spinach sauteed with chopped garlic, chicken stock and sake.

At Costco Wholesale in Hackensack on Monday, comparing the natural color of wild Copper River sockeye salmon, bottom, and artificially colored farmed Atlantic salmon. The wild fish also tastes more robust.


The June 2014 edition of the Costco Connection magazine tries to answer salmon lovers' questions about why sockeye from the Copper River in Alaska are held in such high regard.

The Copper River isn't the longest salmon river in the world, but it probably has the best marketing.

"The Copper River is a very fast-moving glacial river, so the salmon have to store up a lot of oil content to get up the river," said Scott Blake, CEO of Copper River Seafoods (Pages 48-9).

"If you look at other river systems, they're very short in comparison, so salmon that go into those rivers don't produce [as much] oil," Blake added.

Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon from Costco Wholesale on an egg-white omelet with Aleppo pepper and Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto, also from Costco. 

One of year's first runs

The seafood executive says the Copper River has other advantages:

"It has one of the first commercially harvested salmon runs of the year in Alaska, so it's available before other wild salmon hit the market; and Copper River's location near a port and proximity to Seattle make fast transportation plausible," Blake says.

"Today, Copper River salmon fetch some of the market's highest prices, making it a cornerstone of the Alaskan economy," according to the Costco members' lifestyle magazine.

Copper River salmon gained its ascendancy in the late 1980s, when Jon Rowley, a Seattle-based seafood and marketing consultant, introduced the fish and their fishers to high-end restaurant owners and chefs, the magazine notes.

In 2013, commercial fishers pulled 1.8 million coho, sockeye and king salmon from the Copper River, which is nearly 300 miles long, according to Alaska fish and game officials.

Salmon prices at Costco

Now, fresh Copper River sockeye fillets are selling at the Hackensack warehouse store for $14.99 a pound, twice the price of artificially colored farmed Atlantic salmon.

But that's only $1 a pound more than they were selling in June 2012.

On Monday, we picked up a package with two sockeye salmon fillets weighing a total of 2.10 pounds that yielded about eight serving pieces, enough for four with leftovers.

I roasted the relatively thin serving pieces for 12 minutes in a 375-degree oven, and they were cooked medium.

I topped them with a reduced mixture of organic diced tomatoes, garlic, red wine, lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh oregano, then added chopped fresh mint.

A breakfast of Copper River sockeye salmon with a wedge of cheese-and-garlic frittata, and mashed sweet potatoes. For dinner tonight, half of a piece of leftover salmon was delicious eaten cold over an organic spring mix salad.

Three recipes

The Costco magazine article includes three recipes, Ceviche-Inspired Wild Alaskan Salmon, Lomi Lomi Salmon and Southeast Grilled Salmon.

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