Some of you longer-term Lardmouth blog followers may remember the post I did about Jarret Stevens of Bristol Bay Salmon Company back in February of last year, http://lardmouth.com/2013/02/25/he-braves-the-sea-for-you-me/
For those of you unfamiliar with Jarret and his family’s twenty-plus year history of salmon fishing, I’ll go ahead and let Jarret explain…
“Bristol Bay, Alaska, is cradled by the Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea. It is the final destination of the migrating wild Alaskan sockeye salmon which work their way into the Naknek, Egegik, and Kvichak rivers each summer. My family has fished for sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay since the 80′s on our boat, the Vortex. Nothing can be more exciting than to witness the greatest natural migration of salmon in the world as they come into the cold waters of Bristol Bay!
I founded the Bristol Bay Salmon Company because of my passion for fishing, respect for the high quality of the Alaskan sockeye salmon, and our desire is to bring this incredible food source to the people of southern California. Extreme care is taken to preserve the superior quality of the salmon for our customers. Each fish is carefully inspected by our processor so only the very best of our catch is filleted, vacuum sealed, and flash frozen within hours of their harvest.
Once you discover the wild sockeye salmon you’ll not only find it to be incredibly delicious, buy extremely healthy. Sockeye salmon has enormous amounts of long chain omega 3′s that are essential for the maintenance of a healthy mind and body. You’ll be pleased to know that the wild salmon is certified by the marine stewardship council as a sustainable resource.”
Cool huh? I’m every bit as much of a fan of Jarret and his gorgeous salmon today as I was last February. In fact now that I’ve delved deeper into the Bristol Bay story, I’m even more excited about this incredible food source. Recently Jarret and I spent some time on the phone discussing what makes his salmon so special.
Bristol Bay Salmon Company has a unique relationship with one of the five big salmon processors in Alaska, Leader Creek. As a part of their direct marketing program, fishermen who sell to and then purchase back salmon from Leader Creek are required to meet some very stringent standards.
First they must bleed the fish, then they are required to float them in sea water in the ship’s hold at a constant temperature of 35 degrees to qualify for the ‘premium’ grade. This designation allows Leader Creek fishermen to participate in their special direct marketing program, which is awesome because it means we can purchase our salmon from the fisherman who caught it, rather than from a huge retail market like Costco. Fishermen who sell to the other processors are allowed to pack their fish tightly in their ship’s hold, which causes compression and ultimately lowers the quality of the salmon’s flesh.
In addition, unlike salmon that doesn’t meet the ‘#1 grade’ standard, Jarret’s fish is never frozen more than once. In fact it’s filleted, deboned, vacuum sealed and frozen the same day it’s caught. Whereas the salmon purchased from the ‘big guys’ like Trader Joe’s is frozen twice before you purchase it… yuck!
So as the month of June rolls around again, Jarret is gearing up to head back up to Alaskan waters to begin this year’s season. Because he under-bought last year and left some of his wholesale customers without salmon, this year he purchased back more than he’s sold. That’s good news for you and me, as he’s offering a great deal on the 2013 catch. Salmon that Jarret normally sells for $15 per pound, he’ll be offering for $11 per pound when purchased as a 20 pound case. Time to get all your friends together and stock up for summer grilling, and on the double as time is running out and Jarret will only be at the Hillcrest and Vista farmer’s markets one more weekend!
Finally, he excitedly shared a fun and community-oriented plan for when he returns at the end of the summer. In an attempt to create a more relaxed and social venue for exploring the joys of all things salmon, Jarret is collaborating with a friend who has an urban farm in North Park to offer salmon ‘cook outs’ featuring local chefs working their magic on this year’s catch, games, garden demonstrations, music and a potluck-style dinner where he plans to discuss a ‘buyer’s club’ meet-up to allow customers to purchase salmon without the hassle of crowds and parking at the farmer’s market. Jarret says there will be no charge for the event, and salmon will be offered for sale. Fun!
Once you’re in possession of your Sockeye haul, try this summer-friendly recipe for Salmon Pesto Ceviche!