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Yukon River salmon: Hail to the new king

July 9, 2007 |  1:16 pm

Salmon1 When my friend Jon Rowley talks about salmon, I listen. Rowley is the seafood consultant who introduced the world to Copper River king salmon back in 1983, taking a fish that had previously mostly been canned and revealing to eaters everywhere its rich texture and superlative flavor. The annual arrival of Copper River fish in restaurants and markets is now a highlight of late spring for seafood lovers all over the country.

Now Rowley says he’s found something that might be even better — the salmon from Alaska’s Yukon River. Because the fish need to swim more than 2,000 miles to spawn, they have extraordinarily high levels of fat stored up. At a recent blind tasting of Copper River and Yukon salmon in Seattle, chefs and seafood industry folks favored the Yukon by about 2 to 1, Rowley says.

You can find it at Bristol Farms and at some restaurants. It’s pricey — the first arrivals will be about $30 a pound — but if you love salmon, it's worth the splurge. The flesh is very firm and the flavor is rich. I oven-steamed mine (on a cookie sheet in a 250-degree oven over a baking pan of boiling water; it takes about 25 minutes, but the color stays the same and the taste stays very pure). Looks like Rowley is on to something ... again.

-- Russ Parsons

Photo by Jon Rowley