Copper River Salmon is some of the most sought-after salmon in the world with a reputation for the highest quality. Although we reside in the Midwest, we're lucky to have relationships with the small family fishermen who catch these beautifully colored, firm-textured, and amazing-flavored salmon coming out of pristine Alaskan waters. The good news is that with spring comes the Copper River Salmon season, with the most highly coveted of them all, Copper River King Salmon, making its splash first. As Jack Gridley, longtime VP of Meat & Seafood and my predecessor, would often say, “Look for the first fish to arrive at Dorothy Lane Market mid- to late-May, so long as Mother Nature, boats, and planes all play well together.”
What makes the salmon from Alaska’s Copper River so special? The fish have spent years at sea preparing themselves for the long journey home to spawn. Once they reach the Copper River Delta near Cordova, Alaska, the fish must wait till the tides are just right to start their journey of 300 miles of glacier-fed rapids twisting through the Wrangell and Chugach Mountains at 1,200 feet altitude, where they will mate. Because the journey is so long, they must store extra fat and oils in order to survive. This high fat and oil content is why Copper River Salmon is recognized as the world’s best eating salmon. Don’t be fooled by imposters—make sure you are getting the real thing!
• The Copper River King Salmon (Chinook), available mid- to late-May, has the highest amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids of all of the salmon species. This succulent salmon boasts a high oil content and firm texture that melts in your mouth. This is the most prized of them all!
• The most abundant species of salmon out of the Copper River Delta is the Copper River Sockeye Salmon (red salmon), available May through July. The sockeye is known for its natural deep red flesh. It’s robust and rich in flavor with a firm texture that makes it a perfect summer BBQ favorite.
• The last great salmon of the season is the Copper River Coho Salmon (silver salmon), available July through September, with its approachable, mild flavor and delicate texture. These large fish have become a fall favorite.
Above dates are approximations and may fluctuate as these species are protected by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game to ensure sustainability for many years to come.
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