Fresh Fish Series: NW salmon season has arrived!

WildSalmon

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

Featured: Olympia Oysters and Schramsberg sparkling wine, extended through Valentine’s day!

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Feb 10-14 while they last, savor your chance to taste a rare Northwest treasure: the Olympia oyster!

The Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) is one of the rarest, most treasured of our Pacific Northwest native species. James Beard, champion of American cuisine, called the petite Olympia “the most distinguished of the oysters” for its distinctive sweet taste and coppery finish.

Ray’s, in conjunction with Seattle oyster enthusiast and historian Jon Rowley, first introduced this treasured oyster to the restaurant world in 1983.

“Up to that point,” Rowley recalled, “Olympias had only been available in jars, if you could find them at all. Then Clam Cove Oyster Company brought us some live ones. I sent out a letter to the people who worked in the food press, and we served nothing else that night — just Olympia oysters and Schramsberg sparkling wine. It was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to.”

After two near-brushes with extinction (first from over-harvesting in the gold rush era, then in the 1920s and 30s threatened by pulp mill pollution), the Olympia oyster, which takes five years to reach maturity, is available in limited supply thanks to careful cultivation and sustainable harvesting!

Take advantage of a six-pack of shucked Olympia oysters from Taylor Shellfish with a glass of Schramsberg sparkling wine for $29. Make it a memorable Valentine’s weekend, or just try it because it’s not something you’ll find here every day! See you soon!