This past weekend we had the pleasure of hosting the winners of our FareStart live auction item! They were treated to a custom Copper River King Salmon menu from Executive Chef Paul Duncan, with wine pairings by our Wine Director Chip Croteau. They enjoyed a sunny dinner on the deck of our first floor Boathouse during the opening weekend of Copper River!
Now all of our guests can enjoy this menu and help support FareStart! Today through June 4, 2017 order our 3-Course Copper River menu for $85 in the first floor Boathouse, and Ray’s will donate proceeds to FareStart to help fund its vital job training programs.
30 years ago this May 26, Ray’s Boathouse burned to the ground leaving little left but a few tables, chairs and our iconic Ray’s sign. We rebuilt and came back stronger than ever. Now 30 years later we are commemorating this defining day in our history with a Fire Celebration at Ray’s!
Bring the whole family to join us Friday, May 26 to Sunday, May 28 in the upstairs Cafe!
Enjoy our ‘smoked & blackened’ Cafe menu items, commemorative fire photos, and take in the gorgeous views that were shrouded in smoke 30 years ago.
Not so fast. We’ll be waiting on edge all day today to find out if the salmon are out there. Yesterday, the fishing fleets headed a couple of hours away from Cordova, AK to the mouth of the Copper River delta. Most scouted the area yesterday looking for the best spots to set nets. Then, 7am this morning, Alaska Fish and Game gave the call. Fishing is on!
They’ll have 12 hours to fish. Some will offload fish at nearby tender boats, but most will race back to Cordava to offload their catch where they’ll receive more money for the catch.
Variables to make a successful fishing trip are countless. Ocean swells, tides, air temperatures, water temperatures, wind, rain, river flow, sediment, delta sandbars, (they change all of the time), number of boats fishing. It keeps going. Not an easy way of life.
How about some bullet points?
The Copper River is 290 miles long. It’s the tenth largest in the United States.
The ruggedness of the river, with its vast gorges and steep falling grade, make it necessary for the salmon to become fat and strong in order to swim upstream and spawn. Hence why they are so delicious.
It’s known for its miles of sprawling deltas.
On the sandbars, you’ll see massive groups of bald eagles, sea lions and the occasional bear waking up from the winter hibernation.
1983 Ray’s partnered with Jon Rowley and became the first restaurant in the Pacific NW to serve Copper River Salmon. We’ve served Copper River salmon ever since. (I was 2 years old then).
Ray’s has again partnered with Ocean Beauty Seafoods for Copper River season. They’ll make sure we have a few king salmon to prepare your dinner Friday evening. We have to be patient though… It’s a tight timeline for a long journey. Fish is caught, sent to processing, trucked to the small Cordava airport, loaded on to an Alaska Airlines plane to Anchorage then down to SeaTac. From there they go to Ocean Beauty’s facility in Seattle, and finally to Ray’s Boathouse. All in a matter of about 30 hours!
Along with Ocean Beauty, we have a new partner this year, Michael and Nelly Hand. Drifters Fish is their company name. They will be fishing and giving us updates direct from the boat! Hopefully we’ll be able to serve king salmon caught by them Saturday evening. So for that, we wish the Hand’s a safe and prosperous day on the ocean.
I’m really excited this year to share as much info as I can with you. Keep checking in with social media. And make your reservations. This fish goes fast!
Fresh fish season is rollin’! The 2017 salmon season opens today.
What do you know about salmon? We may turn to the ol’ “interwebs” to discover salmon is full of the omega fat we prefer to eat, and that king salmon is the biggest in the family. You’ll read that they are born from eggs and immediately escape the fresh water river into the salty ocean. Then salmon return back to the same river to spawn as big fatty adults. After swimming around in the great Pacific Ocean for years, how do they know where to come back? Maybe by a built-in magnetic field, or a strong sense of smell they follow. All are still theories; we just don’t quite know.
So if a salmon’s life cycle begins and ends in the same place, what does that do for their genetic make-up? Each river has its own type of salmon profile. The taste, fat content, color and size all attribute from the characteristics of their native river. Copper River for example, provides an extremely fatty, darker colored salmon. Some of these reasons are due to the size of the Copper River, how strong the river flows, and how rugged it is. The vast gorges make for a difficult river to swim up. For that, the Copper River salmon need to grow stronger and store more fat to swim deep into their spawning grounds. All of these salmon share the same strong genetics and pass them down to the next generation.
There have been many chefs at Ray’s and they’ve spent their time perfecting salmon preparation. We utilize almost all salmon species for their many characteristics. For smoked salmon, we love to use Coho or Keta from the Yukon River. They accompany our in-house smoking process so well. Periodically you’ll find the deep red flesh from Sockeye available, and always King salmon. King salmon fetches a fair price for its grand size, its beautiful scales, and the strong flavor it provides, thus being the most popular of them all. I wonder how Coho feels about this? That’s for another segment.
Fisherman will be out searching for King salmon to start the season.Coho, Sockeye, Keta, and Pinks will follow. Salmon runs fresh through the summer and as always, we’ll provide you with wild salmon from the Northwest all summer long. The flavor profile will change based on time of year and region from which the fish originates. So come taste it often and become a “real” Northwest salmon expert.
Until next time…
Steve Hauch, Executive Sous Chef
Hispanic Heritage Month Specials with Chef Gus
Ray’s Executive Sous Chef Gustavo Guerra hails from Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco, Mexico and he’s graciously whipped up his Pollo en Mole Oaxaqueño in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month! This limited quantity dish will be available in the Boathouse and Café starting Friday, September 15 until it’s gone! Pollo en Mole Oaxaqueño pan seared chicken …