Culinary Field Notes


Albacore are some of the most abundant pelagic fish in the North Pacific. Highly migratory, these fish swim in massive schools that move north up the Pacific coast. They reach the waters of Oregon and Washington in mid summer, where they’re harvested by a fleet of small boat fishermen. These albacore are prized for their dense, sweet meat that shine in a variety of preparations. Ours are all line-caught and frozen at exacting specifications to ensure they are sashimi-grade—perfect for your favorite poke, sushi, or sashimi. We love our albacore seared rare, over a bed of brown rice, with sautéed greens and a teriyaki drizzle.   Season: July–OctoberCaught through a partnership with Seafood Producers Cooperative

Spot Prawns

The spot prawn is Southeast Alaska’s hidden gem. It is not only one of the world’s most sustainably harvested shrimp—caught in pots by small-scale family fishermen with almost no bycatch—but it’s also one of the world’s gastronomic treasures. Beneath its brittle shell, spot prawns have firm, rich, sweet tail meat, akin more to a cold-water lobster than the shrimp often found at your grocery store or seafood market.  Spot prawns make stunningly delish shrimp cocktails, the toothsome meat setting off the heat of the horseradish.  They toss well with angel hair pasta, wine, crème, and lemon zest.  Rumors swirl in Sitka that they’re paired with halibut and king salmon to make a North Pacific version of bouillabaisse that leaves dinner party guests speechless.  Season: OctoberCaught by Fishing Vessel El Tiburon

King Salmon

Wild Alaskan king salmon are the gourmet’s salmon because of their large, luscious flakes and high fat content—sometimes twice that of sockeye and coho. King salmon store this fat for their journeys up North America's longest river systems. When you eat a wild Alaskan king, you're tasting the anticipation of this river journey in the fish's flesh. Like a well-marbled steak, this fat melts into the salmon, giving king salmon unrivaled mouth feel. And remember, these are the good fats: the natural, marine-derived Omega-3s that heart doctors celebrate. Because of this fat, king salmon are perfect for grilling and searing, with just salt and pepper. King salmon needs little else.   Season: July and August Caught by Fishing Vessels El Tiburon, Loon, April L, Bella Dawn, Mary Carl, Sunfish, Amnicon, Lorelai Bell, Valle Lee, and Dryas

Sockeye Salmon

Whereas the flavor of king and coho creep gently over the tongue, sockeye explodes on the palate.  Its robust and bold profile holds up to spicy and savory sauces—for those who've never entertained the idea, curried or soy-marinated sockeye over brown rice is a true joy of Alaskan life. Sockeye salmon is equally good roasted and sauteed.  Much of sockeye’s flavor comes from the salmon's natural history. Unlike other salmon, sockeye spend their first few years of their lives living in Alaska's lakes, eating low on the food chain. These culinary habits carry over into the ocean, where they eat nutritionally dense zooplankton and microscopic crustaceans.  The density of their own food sources produce the bright, rich flesh that make sockeye stand out among the other premium species. Season: June, July, August Caught by our friends at Taku River Reds, with the Fishing Vessels Sunfish, Heather Anne, and Kirstin Anna

Coho Salmon

Coho salmon are the most versatile salmon species. They're mild, and easy to use in a host of different preparations and styles.  In July, at the beginning of Southeast Alaska’s salmon season, 4- and 5-pound coho dominate the fishery: these smaller fish, with their smaller flakes and delicate texture, resemble a full-bodied trout almost as much as salmon. By August and September, though, several months of feeding in the rich waters of Southeast Alaska produce 8-, 10-, and even 15-pound fish. These late season coho reflect many of the culinary qualities of king salmon, producing big, fat fillets that grill perfectly on a warm fall day, paired with sauteed autumn vegetables and an apple cider reduction. Coho is even better suited for baking or poaching. There's nothing quite like a poached coho fillet, with a caper or tomato vinaigrette to enhance and highlight this salmon's natural refinement.  Season: July through September Caught by Fishing Vessels El Tiburon, Loon, April L, Bella Dawn, Mary Carl, Sunfish, Amnicon, Lorelai Bell, Valle Lee, and Dryas

Keta Salmon

Keta salmon are Southeast Alaska’s second most abundant salmon. Until about a decade ago, they were harvested for a single reason: their prized roe, Ikura. Since that time, fishermen have begun to target them for a growing number of fresh and frozen markets, both domestic and abroad, which find the fish’s firm, lean meat and subtle flavor delightful. Keta’s one of our favorites with spice rubs, sauces, and marinades. You haven’t had salmon until you’ve had Chef Ali’s keta salmon with espresso bbq sauce. Season: June-September Caught by Fishing Vessels Mary Carl, April L, and Loon


With dense, fat flakes, halibut are the world's most-prized white fish. They're perfect for baking and sautéing. They're nice on the grill too. You also haven't had a fish fry until you've had a halibut fish fry. (Chef’s Choice: Beer-battered, with New Glarus Brewery’s Spotted Cow) With its proximity to the Continental Shelf, Sitka is one of the world's great halibut ports. And unlike many other places in the North Pacific and North Atlantic, all of Sitka's halibut are caught one by one on hook-and-line.  Season: March through November Caught By Fishing Vessels Sunfish, Valle Lee, and Oceanaire

Black Cod

Black cod, also called sablefish, is an oddity of the natural world. Most demersal—or bottom-dwelling—fish,  like halibut, tend to be lean. But not black cod. Black cod has a higher fat content (and more Omega-3s) than king salmon. The result is a fish that tastes like nothing else in the ocean. Until about a decade ago, almost all of Sitka's catch went to Japan, where it's a prized delicacy. Increasingly, black cod is found on the West Coast and Hawaii, but rarely, if ever, does it make its way to the Midwest. Black cod's high fat content and buttery flesh define its preparation. It's great steamed, broiled, and grilled. It pairs perfectly with soy, citrus, and chile, all of which cut the fish's richness while enhancing its delicate texture. Like all Sitka black cod, yours are caught one by one on hook-and-line, often several thousand feet below the boat deck.  Season: March through November Caught by Fishing Vessels Oceanaire and El Tiburon

Black Bass

For our fishermen, these locally abundant and under-utilized pelagic rockfish find their home close to our docks in Sitka, meaning they offer the perfect opportunity for a day-boat fishery for our fishermen who prefer to spend their nights at home with their families. For our members, these black bass resemble a cross between a snapper and a branzini. Their small, delicate flakes and mild flesh make them perfect for baking, roasting, or sautéing. We love them baked with tomatoes, capers, and lemon or sautéed and nestled over angel hair pasta. Season: Year round Caught by Fishing Vessels Taku Wind, April L, and Point Break


A lingcod is neither a ling nor a cod. Discuss.  Well, actually, it is a greenling, a voracious bottom-dwelling predator that’s a favorite of sport fishermen (and home cooks) in Southeast Alaska. As a food, we like to think of them of Pacific cod’s more voluptuous relative, with a semi-firm, lean white flesh that’s nearly as dense and meaty as halibut. Like halibut, lingcod offers a wonderful option for pan-searing, sautéing, and frying. For a decadent preparation, lingcod poached and served over wilted spinach and boiled red potatoes can be mesmerizing.  Season: March through June Caught by Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Mary Carl, and Amnicon

Pacific Cod

Cod is a fish of lore and legend. The pursuit of it helped settle the Americas and the trade of it helped establish the global economy.  As a food, its mild, briny, white flesh makes it as versatile as any of Sitka’s fish: cod supports a suite of stews and soups; pan sautéed with olive oil and crusted with an herbed panko, it can be a highlight of even the most elegant dinners. In between, it makes wonderful cakes and patties and pairs well with everything from the spicy to the sweet.  Season: Year-round

Dungeness Crab

Dungeness crab-or, simply, Dungy-is the great crab of the Pacific Northwest.  Though the crab takes its name from a small town on the coast of Washington, its ecological range extends from the Southern California to the Aleutian Islands. It loves sandy flats and warm days on the beach. (OK, maybe just the former.) In Southeast Alaska, Dungy are pot-caught by an inshore fleet of small-scale fishermen. The season consists of a summer and a winter fishery. Compared to other crab, dungy meat is light and flaky, accented by a subtle sweetness and a light brine that brightens the meat.  It’s unmatched steamed, with drawn butter, or folded into a light pasta and sauce. Its shells offer an unequaled beginning for a rich crab stock. Season: July-August and November through January


It's hard to find a whitefish that Alaskan's love more than the Yelloweye. Yes, many of us find yelloweye more tasty than halibut! Also called red snapper, Yelloweye’s vibrant red skin and flaky white flesh is similar to the prized gulf snapper, but that’s being pretty generous to our friends down south. Alaskans know yelloweye for its firm flake and incredibly sweet meat. Its firm texture allows it to hold up well in soups and chowders and makes an unrivaled beer-battered fish. Season: Nearly year-round, though we fish ours in late winter. Caught by: Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Ilona B, Wilma Mae


Quillback is named for the distinctive spines running along its back. Once you brave filleting these small spiny fish, you are rewarded by a succulent white flesh. Quillback is wonderful seared or fried for fish tacos, but we think the true beauty of Quillback comes in the form of a simple ceviche. Season: Nearly year-round Caught by: Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Ilona B, Wilma Mae

Dusky Rockfish

The mild sweet flesh of the Dusky rockfish is perfect for converting those who don't think they enjoy fish. One of the most sustainable species of Alaska’s rockfish, Duskies are open-water swimmers and grow quickly. We love duskies because of their versatility: bake ‘em, fry ‘em, or saute ‘em. They are a welcome addition to seafood stews and are superb blackened as well. Season: Nearly year-round Caught by: Fishing Vessels Valle Lee, Ilona B, Wilma Mae