King salmon season has arrived and will last through July. It's worth seeking out this delicious reminder that Pacific wild salmon is nothing like the disappointing farmed salmon that's often a staple of banquet meals.
"When you get a piece of fresh king salmon, it really is like eating a filet mignon," said Jim Wholey, president of Wholey's Seafood, on the phone the other day.
The "best of the best" is the Copper River king salmon, confirmed Henry Dewey of Penn Avenue Fish Co. The sockeye is the smaller variation with bright red flesh. In the photo above, fishmonger Tim Reynolds holds up a king salmon.
"When you're fileting a king salmon and the light is right, you can see the oils poppin' off," he said. And the higher concentration of oil in the kings and sockeyes may mean increased health benefits from omega-3 for cardiovascular health.
The wild fish look healthier themselves. "Look at these bones," said Mr. Reynolds. From the same part of two different salmon, the spindly ones on the right are from a farmed fish and the thicker ones are from a king salmon. "They're the alpine, mountain-climbers of fish."
These fish come at a price. The photo shows today's price for Copper River king and sockeyes at Penn Avenue Fish Co.
Down the street at Wholey's, king salmon today is $23 a pound. Compare that to farmed salmon at about $10 a pound or Scottish salmon at $16 a pound.
Melissa McCart photos