Welcome to salmon season.
The much-hyped Copper River king salmon hit Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market on Sunday, where fillets fetched an impressive $75 per pound. You get a bit of a break if you buy in bulk: An entire Cooper River king salmon costs nearly $56 per pound.
The coming of the Copper River salmon to Seattle is an annual event, beginning when flights from Alaska Airlines land at Seattle Tacoma International Airport with around 22,000 pounds of fish.
Alaska Airlines then hosts a cooking competition with the first fish to leave the plane (the chefs participating in the cook off this year were John Sundstrom, Stuart Lane, and David Yeo). The event also acts as the inauguration of salmon season in fish markets starting with Pike Place, becuase the Copper River wild Alaskan salmon fishery is the first of the year to open.
The fish market eagerly awaited the arrival of the Copper River salmon; once it landed in Seattle, the fish was escorted down a red carpet to a waiting crowd of it's admirers, including the chefs.
Copper River is supposedly the most delicious variety of salmon: Their natural habitat is a 300-mile long ice cold, glacier-fed river filled with violent rapids. The salmon that spawn there must gain weight to complete their journey, meaning when they when finally make it to the fish market, their meat is fattier, and nearly neon orange in color.
The coveted fish will only be on sale at the market for the next week or so, as well as at some iconic Seattle restaurants like David Yeo's Wild Ginger. The fish is truly an indulgence: A dish made with the Copper River salmon can range anywhere from $30 to $60.
Sadly, scientists are predicting that many species of this beloved fish native to California may be inching closer to extinction, their populations dwindling by 50 percent in the next 50 years. Thankfully, Pike Place Fish Market is committed to selling nothing but sustainable seafood.