We say “fishing is unpredictable” a lot. Although we might know in theory when to expect a certain species, more often than not there is some complicating factor at play! Take for example, last year’s chinook salmon season.
Summer 2020 Chinook Surprise
Last summer’s salmon season was disappointing for a lot of BC fishing families. Salmon is obviously a big deal at Skipper Otto, so this was causing stress not only for our fishermen but for us too. All five species of salmon are beloved by our members and since we emphasize eating with the ecosystem, if a certain species isn’t abundant one year, our members happily eat whatever is. But we know that salmon is a favourite and we always do our best to ensure there is plenty to go around.
Our fishing families had been going out and fishing for salmon with little to show for it all summer but that changed on the last chinook opening in August. It was a 9.5 hour overnight opening in Alberni Inlet from Aug 30 to 31st. Five of our small boats had caught limited amounts of chinook salmon 4 days earlier in the same location. But with salmon, it’s all about timing… The night of Aug 30th everyone started catching large numbers of big (8-10 lb) chinook salmon!
Eating With The Ecosystem
The boom-and-bust cycle of abundance and scarcity that happens with salmon openings is a fact of life for those fisheries. When the fish are plentiful, it’s a cause for celebration, but it doesn’t change the difficulty of dealing with those fish all at one time on shore. If these fishing families were trying to sell this windfall of salmon to a buyer through a packing boat on the fishing grounds that day, chances are they would get turned away, or have the price they were to be paid dropped out from under them. At Skipper Otto, we operate differently. We worked with our processor to expand and handle all that volume of thousands of pounds of chinook salmon from each fisherman. And we didn’t play games with pricing. We paid our fishermen as we had agreed upon prior to the opening. Truth be told, we ended up with more chinook salmon than we would have preferred. We love having a mix of salmon species with different flavour profiles and at different price points but sometimes you just have to roll with what nature throws at you.
We did just that. And, guess what? We have a large supply of chinook that was offloaded on August 31st in Port Alberni after a night that salvaged the season for those five fishing families. For that reason, we are hopeful that we can tempt you to make chinook a part of your seafood eating over the coming months while we wait for the 2021 salmon season to kick off this summer.
Chinook: The King Of Salmon
If you’re not familiar with chinook, it’s frequently regarded as the most premium of the Pacific salmon species. That’s why you also see it referred to as king salmon. They have a rich flavour and a buttery-smooth texture thanks to their high levels of heart-healthy fat, and are suited to almost any method of cooking – or, not cooking!
As the weather heats up, we love chinook for homemade sushi or poke. Poke bowls in particular are a great choice because everyone can make their own to their tastes. Try Celine’s famous poke bowl sauce recipe for a real treat!
Celine’s (Famous) Poke Sauce
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp chili flakes
½ tsp freshly grated ginger
1-2 tbsp water to thin, if desired
Combine all ingredients in a bowl or jar and mix well. Pour over poke bowls, which can be made with any grain as a base, your favourite vegetables, and of course, some raw chinook salmon cut into cubes!
For more chinook recipes and inspiration, check out this post: https://skipperotto.com/chinook-salmon-recipes/
Chris - April 16, 2021
How Chinook Salmon Saved Summer 2020
Chris - April 16, 2021